[Many thanks to AICA Caraïbe du Sud for bringing this item to our attention.] Les gens de l’or—Mémoire des orpailleurs créoles du Maroni was first published by Ibis Rouge Éditions (French Guiana) in 1988. A new edition was made available in October 2019 (Plon). The new edition includes a preface by Richard Price. It is described as: “A poetic, rigorous and original look at créolité and the entire Caribbean world through the study of gold panners in French Guiana. A testimony to a lost lifestyle, told with love and finesse.”
Description (Richard Price): This work is first and foremost vintage ethnography. But at the same time, the study by Baj-Strobel—rigorous, personal and poetic—takes a new and convincing look at créolité and the entire Caribbean world. By a detour through the Guiana forest, it places us in a position to approach what is essential in these island societies, both submissive and resistant, both drawn into themselves and open—in their own way—to the world [le Tout-Monde]. It is the testimony of a lost way of life, told with love and finesse. We discover a whole new society, tiny, strange, and ultimately full of charm. Through stories, songs, music, and meticulous accounts of work and days, we understand why these men went out in search of gold and we also grasp the marvelous metaphysical implications of this ultimate quest. By focusing on the gold panners, the author weaves a framework that extends to the entire Caribbean region. Through the hundred years of history that she recounts, we can see the processes of creolization that have been reproduced from the first outlines of community life on the island plantations to the reinventions of identity by Caribbean migrants that we find today in Toronto, Miami, or Paris. It is a testimony to the continuous process of creolization, to migration, and to reconstruction.
Michèle-Baj Strobel is an ethnologist and educator in Art History. She has lived and worked in Senegal, French Guiana, Martinique, and Laos. She is the author of numerous books on ethnology and travel.
For more on the 1988 edition, see https://www.ibisrouge.fr/fr/livres/les-gens-de-l-or