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Between Myth and Nation in the Caribbean
During the colonial period in Guyana, the country’s coastal lands were worked by enslaved Africans and indentured Indians. In Creole Indigeneity, Shona N. Jackson investigates how their descendants, collectively called Creoles, have remade themselves as Guyana’s new natives, displacing indigenous peoples in the Caribbean through an extension of colonial attitudes and policies.
Looking particularly at the nation’s politically fraught decades from the 1950s to the present, Jackson explores aboriginal and Creole identities in Guyanese society. Through government documents, interviews, and political speeches, she reveals how Creoles, though unable to usurp the place of aboriginals as First Peoples in the New World, nonetheless managed to introduce a new, more socially viable definition of belonging, through labor. The very reason for bringing enslaved and indentured workers into Caribbean labor became the organizing principle for Creoles’ new identities.
Creoles linked true belonging, and so political and material right, to having performed modern labor on the land; labor thus became the basis for their subaltern, settler modes of indigeneity—a contradiction for belonging under postcoloniality that Jackson terms “Creole indigeneity.” In doing so, her work establishes a new and productive way of understanding the relationship between national power and identity in colonial, postcolonial, and anticolonial contexts.
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.
Le thème de la réclusion, cette forme de violence directe qui consiste à limiter la mobilité physique d’un sujet, traverse la littérature. En effet, l’expérience de l’enfermement, de cet espace-temps intermédiaire créé par la contrainte, a inspiré l’œuvre de plusieurs auteurs. Peu importe la forme que prend l’enfermement, fictif ou réel, dans des contextes de violence explicite ou implicite, les écritures de la réclusion mettent au jour les liens entre le politique, le social et le traitement qu’en fait l’art. Les auteurs de cet ouvrage explorent l’expression de la réclusion, que ce soit dans la littérature hispano-américaine postdictatoriale, en particulier dans le roman Le fourgon des fous de l’écrivain uruguayen Carlos Liscano, en contexte antillais dans l’œuvre de Patrick Chamoiseau, dans les classiques africains, dans Lefeu ou la démolition de l’écrivain autrichien Jean Améry, dans les aveux de comploteurs guinéens, dans le contexte du Centre de rééducation civique de Tcholliré au Cameroun ou encore dans l’œuvre du célèbre auteur d’origine togolaise Kossi Efoui. Une entrevue inédite avec ce dernier conclut par ailleurs l’ouvrage, qui offre un cadre large et varié pour réfléchir aux violences institutionnelles faites aux collectivités et aux individus, à leurs modes de fonctionnement et à ce qu’en fait l’art, la littérature en particulier.
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.