Bodies and Bones
Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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There are so many people to thank because they have
made this journey possible with love and dignity.
I thank my parents, June and Aubrey Shields, my aunts Shirley Watts and Hazel Wentt, and my uncles Philip Wentt and Anthony Shields, and my godmother Pauline “Jesse” Ezechiels, all of whom provided for me in material and spiritual ways and encouraged me to pursue dreams of...
Introduction: Reading Caribbean Resistance through Feminist Rehearsal
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Sunlight on the sea floor is a familiar image of the Caribbean, but the pages of the region’s history run red. “Drowned women’s bones fused to coral” underlies a history of the sea, one that subaquatically links the stories of the various territories of the Caribbean. The language of bones permits an examination of the structures of resistance...
1 Rehearsing with Ghosts
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Fred D’Aguiar’s 1997 novel Feeding the Ghosts captures the horror of enslaved bodies becoming bones. The novel, a poetically written history, chronicles the 1781 Zong Massacre in which medical- doctor-cum-ship-captain Luke Collingwood threw 132 captured Africans overboard near the Jamaican coast. Collingwood’s desire to profit from insurance claims rather than risk docking with sick,...
2 Their Bones Would Reject Yours
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Haiti and its revolution have become for the world a site of—to borrow the words of a Wilson Harris title—“infinite rehearsal.” Haiti’s act of independence, signed on January 1, 1804, begins with liberty—or death—but continues with General Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s exhortation to newly independent Haitians to neither forget ...
3 Hope and Infinity
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The Haitian Revolution is one example of the belief in possibility and transformation against overwhelming odds. The triumph of enslaved people over Napoleon’s forces, armies that had subjugated a wide swath of Europe, was hardly imaginable. The story is not just inspirational to Haitians and to the whole Caribbean, but it represents the ...
4 Signs of Sycorax
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The previous chapter explored twentieth-century challenges to representations of the Haitian Revolution as solely a heroic romantic male enterprise. In this chapter, I explore contemporary manifestations of Caribbean women who rehearse The Tempest’s archetypal character Sycorax, Shakespeare’s silenced female figure. Sycorax appears...
5 Rehearsing Indigeneity
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Pauline Melville’s first novel, The Ventriloquist’s Tale, offers a model for rehearsing the ramifications of gender, globalization, and transnationalism as they relate to the rights of indigenous peoples. Set in the South American—though culturally and historically Caribbean—country of Guyana, The Ventriloquist’s Tale focuses on the...
Conclusion: Rehearsing and Proxy-formance
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My conception of rehearsal emerged while writing about the three masculinist representations of the Haitian Revolution, two of which are plays, discussed in chapter 2 of this volume. I extended theatrical understandings of rehearsal to help myself understand how we deal with the past. How I dealt with the past. These three texts written...
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Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2014