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Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora
In Creole Renegades, Bénédicte Boisseron looks at exiled Caribbean authors—Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, V. S. Naipaul, Maryse Condé, Dany Laferriére, and more—whose works have been well received in their adopted North American countries but who are often viewed by their home islands as sell-outs, opportunists, or traitors.
These expatriate and second-generation authors refuse to be simple bearers of Caribbean culture, often dramatically distancing themselves from the postcolonial archipelago. Their writing is frequently infused with an enticing sense of cultural, sexual, or racial emancipation, but their deviance is not defiant.
Underscoring the typically ignored contentious relationship between modern diaspora authors and the Caribbean, Boisseron ultimately argues that displacement and creative autonomy are often manifest in guilt and betrayal, central themes that emerge again and again in the work of these writers.
Migrant Caribbean Identities in Literature and Film
Creolizing the Metropole is a comparative study of postwar West Indian migration to the former colonial capitals of Paris and London. It studies the effects of this population shift on national and cultural identity and traces the postcolonial Caribbean experience through analyses of the concepts of identity and diaspora. Through close readings of selected literary works and film, H. Adlai Murdoch explores the ways in which these immigrants and their descendants represented their metropolitan identities. Though British immigrants were colonial subjects and, later, residents of British Commonwealth nations, and the French arrivals from the overseas departments were citizens of France by law, both groups became subject to otherness and exclusion stemming from their ethnicities. Murdoch examines this phenomenon and the questions it raises about borders and boundaries, nationality and belonging.
Christian Text and Queer Narrative in the Fiction of José Lezama Lima and Reinaldo Arenas
The queer presence that animates and informs the fiction of José Lezama Lima and Reinaldo Arenas, two of the most prominent Cuban writers since the Revolution, nonetheless haunts their work by its absence. Eduardo González draws on the Christian concept of the Fall from grace and the possibility of redemption, on the work of selected Western canonical authors, and on several contemporary films to show how the chosen texts by the two writers both replicate and are enhanced by these sources and illustrate the interplay of word, image, and belief in the story line and moral tale that González develops.
The Dollar and “Special Period” Fiction
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, during an economic crisis termed its “special period in times of peace,” Cuba began to court the capitalist world for the first time since its 1959 revolution. With the U.S. dollar instated as domestic currency, the island seemed suddenly accessible to foreign consumers, and their interest in its culture boomed.
Cuban Currency is the first book to address the effects on Cuban literature of the country’s spectacular opening to foreign markets that marked the end of the twentieth century. Based on interviews and archival research in Havana, Esther Whitfield argues that writers have both challenged and profited from new transnational markets for their work, with far-reaching literary and ideological implications. Whitfield examines money and cross-cultural economic relations as they are inscribed in Cuban fiction. Exploring the work of Zoé Valdés, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Antonio José Ponte and others, she draws out writers’ engagements with the troublesome commodification of Cuban identity.
Confronting the tourist and publishing industries’ roles in the transformation of the Cuban revolution into commercial capital, Whitfield identifies a body of fiction peculiarly attuned to the material and political challenges of the “special period.”
Esther Whitfield is assistant professor of comparative literature at Brown University.
Chicana and Chicano Cultural Studies in the 21st Century
The interdisciplinary essays in Decolonial Voices discuss racialized, subaltern, feminist, and diasporic identities and the aesthetic politics of hybrid and mestiza/o cultural productions. This collection represents several key directions in the field: First, it charts how subaltern cultural productions of the US/ Mexico borderlands speak to the intersections of "local," "hemispheric," and "globalized" power relations of the border imaginary. Second, it recovers the Mexican women's and Chicana literary and cultural heritages that have been ignored by Euro-American canons and patriarchal exclusionary practices. It also expands the field in postnationalist directions by creating an interethnic, comparative, and transnational dialogue between Chicana and Chicano, African American, Mexican feminist, and U.S. Native American cultural vocabularies.
Contributors include Norma Alarcón, Arturo J. Aldama, Frederick Luis Aldama, Cordelia Chávez Candelaria, Alejandra Elenes, Ramón Garcia, María Herrera-Sobek, Patricia Penn Hilden, Gaye T. M. Johnson, Alberto Ledesma, Pancho McFarland, Amelia María de la Luz Montes, Laura Elisa Pérez, Naomi Quiñonez, Sarah Ramirez, Rolando J. Romero, Delberto Dario Ruiz, Vicki Ruiz, José David Saldívar, Anna Sandoval, and Jonathan Xavier Inda.
The Cultural Production of the Female Body in Eighteenth-Century Peru
Deviant and Useful Citizens explores the conditions of women and perceptions of the female body in the eighteenth century throughout the Viceroyalty of Peru, which until 1776 comprised modern-day Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Mariselle Meléndez introduces the reader to a female rebel, Micaela Bastidas, whose brutal punishment became a particularly harsh example of state response to women who challenged the system. She explores the cultural representation of women depicted as economically productive and vital to the health of the culture at large. The role of women in religious orders provides still another window into the vital need to sustain the image of women as loyal and devout—and to deal with women who refused to comply. The book focuses on the different ways male authorities, as well as female subjects, conceived the female body as deeply connected to notions of what constituted a useful or deviant citizen within the Viceroyalty. Using eighteenth-century legal documents, illustrated chronicles, religious texts, and newspapers, Mariselle Meléndez explores in depth the representation of the female body in periods of political, economic, and religious crisis to determine how it was conceived within certain contexts. Deviant and Useful Citizens presents a highly complex society that relied on representations of utility and productivity to understand the female body, as it reveals the surprisingly large stake that colonial authorities had in defining the status of women during a crucial time in South American history.
Nation, Time, Language, and Space in Hispanic Literatures
The Dialectics of Exile: Nation, Time, Language and Space in Hispanic Literatures offers a theory of exile writing that accounts for the persistence of these dual impulses and for the ways that they often co exist within the same literary works.
The Cultural Politics of Catastrophe in Latin America
In the aftermath of disaster, literary and other cultural representations of the event can play a role in the renegotiation of political power. In Disaster Writing, Mark D. Anderson analyzes four natural disasters in Latin America that acquired national significance and symbolism through literary mediation: the 1930 cyclone in the Dominican Republic, volcanic eruptions in Central America, the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, and recurring drought in northeastern Brazil.
Taking a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the disaster narratives, Anderson explores concepts such as the social construction of risk, landscape as political and cultural geography, vulnerability as the convergence of natural hazard and social marginalization, and the cultural mediation of trauma and loss. He shows how the political and historical contexts suggest a systematic link between natural disaster and cultural politics.
Araceli Cab Cumí, Maya Poet and Politician
Discarded Pages is Cab Cumí's life narrative accompanied by her essays, poems, personal narratives, and political and public policy papers. Titled in honor of Cab Cumí's earliest writings which she had thrown away thinking them of little value, Discarded Pages showcases her expressions and thoughts within the context of her eventful and unusual life. In addition to translations of her work, Cab Cumí's original Spanish and Yucatec Maya writings are included in the book.
Representations of Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature
Exploring the prevalence of madness in Caribbean texts written in English in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly Baker Josephs focuses on celebrated writers such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott as well as on understudied writers such as Sylvia Wynter and Erna Brodber. Because mad figures appear frequently in Caribbean literature from French, Spanish, and English traditions—in roles ranging from bit parts to first-person narrators—the author regards madness as a part of the West Indian literary aesthetic. The relatively condensed decolonization of the anglophone islands during the 1960s and 1970s, she argues, makes literature written in English during this time especially rich for an examination of the function of madness in literary critiques of colonialism and in the Caribbean project of nation-making.
In drawing connections between madness and literature, gender, and religion, this book speaks not only to the field of Caribbean studies but also to colonial and postcolonial literature in general. The volume closes with a study of twenty-first-century literature of the Caribbean diaspora, demonstrating that Caribbean writers still turn to representations of madness to depict their changing worlds.