"Caribbean"?

What does “Caribbean” mean? Is it just a geographical description, or a cultural definition, an aspiration, a state of mind? I’ve been thinking about the question of “Caribbeanness” a lot lately, and a few days ago I jotted down some of my thoughts over at my personal blog. Here’s some of what Lloyd Best wrote on the subject back in 1971, in his seminal essay “Independent Thought and Caribbean Freedom”. This most recent bout of musing was triggered off by this post over at David “Oso” Sasaki’s blog, in which he wonders how best to define “Caribbean” for the purposes of Global Voices–i.e. whether territories like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Belize should be covered by GV’s Caribbean editor (our own Georgia Popplewell) or their “rest of the Americas” editor, David himself.

I’d be very interested to hear what readers think–not just on the specific Global Voices division-of-turf question, but on the bigger question of what “Caribbean” really means, or can or could mean–in its widest sense. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below–and, Caribbean bloggers, why not post something on the subject at your individual blogs? There’s obviously no hard and fast answer, but a round of collective self-searching might produce some fascinating, unexpected results.