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Asylum Speakers

Caribbean Refugees and Testimonial Discourse

April Shemak

Publication Year: 2010

Offering the first interdisciplinary study of refugees in the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States, Asylum Speakers relates current theoretical debates about hospitality and cosmopolitanism to the actual conditions of refugees. In doing so, the author weighs the questions of truth valueassociated with various modes of witnessing to explore the function of testimonial discourse in constructing refugee subjectivity in New World cultural and political formations. By examining literary works by such writers as Edwidge Danticat, Nikl Payen, Kamau Brathwaite, Francisco Goldman, Julia Alvarez, Ivonne Lamazares, and Cecilia Rodr!guez Milans, theoretical work by Jacques Derrida, Edouard Glissant, and Wilson Harris, as well as human rights documents, government documents, photography, and historical studies, Asylum Speakers constructs a complex picture of New World refugees that expands current discussions of diaspora and migration, demonstrating that the peripheral nature of refugee testimonial narratives requires us to reshape the boundaries of U.S. ethnic and postcolonial studies.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-ix

This project evolved from the ideas that I began exploring in my dissertation and I am thankful for the numerous people who have supported me as I shaped them into a book. My dissertation advisor Sangeeta Ray provided endless guidance...

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Introduction: The Poetics of Hospitality: Refugee, Migrant, Testimony

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pp. 1-44

In her 2007 memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat recounts the events surrounding the death of her eighty-one-year-old uncle Joseph Dantica, who died while being detained by U.S. immigration...

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1. Inter-dictions and Limbo Citizens: Haitian Boat Refugee Narratives

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pp. 45-87

As I have discussed, the politics of hospitality configures the asylum-seeking process as a site of struggle over refugees’ articulations. A poetics of hospitality foregrounds the place of language in deploying the state laws of hospitality...

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2. False Witnessing: U.S. Coast Guard Photography of Haitian Boat Refugees

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pp. 88-130

In a speech given on June 1, 2007, in which he outlined his immigration reform proposal, President Bush described a moment from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s commencement ceremonies at which he gave the keynote...

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3. Silent Subjectivities: Testimony and Haitian Labor Refugees

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pp. 131-176

In chapters 1 and 2, I analyzed the implications of witnessing the conditions of Haitian boat refugees on the open seas. As I discussed, the U.S. government has systematically cast Haitians as economic migrants, thereby disqualifying...

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4. Corporate Containment: Refugee Seafarers on the Seas of Transnational Labor

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pp. 177-212

After spending months trapped aboard a nonfunctioning ship in Brooklyn Harbor, Esteban Gaitán, the protagonist of Francisco Goldman’s novel The Ordinary Seaman (1997), tells those he meets when he ventures into Brooklyn...

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5. Crossing the Threshold of Asylum: Dominican and Cuban (Post)Refugee Narratives

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pp. 213-240

The majority of this book focuses on the instabilities of refugee subjectivities and the difficulties New World refugees confront in attempting to gain legitimacy in a host nation. As I have discussed, the modes of articulation that refugees are required to navigate...

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Epilogue: Diverted Testimonies: New World Refugees in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 241-249

It is difficult to imagine how to end a book about refugees, especially when so many of the refugees that I have discussed in Asylum Speakers have not arrived at a destination but remain in limbo. The conditions of New World refugees...

Notes

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pp. 251-285

Bibliography

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pp. 287-303

Index

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pp. 304-310


E-ISBN-13: 9780823248865
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823233557
Print-ISBN-10: 0823233553

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Caribbean American authors -- History and criticism.
  • Refugees in literature.
  • Emigration and immigration in literature.
  • Refugees -- Caribbean Area -- Social conditions.
  • Refugees -- United States -- Social conditions.
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