- Coloniality of Diasporas: Rethinking Intra-Colonial Migrations in a Pan-Caribbean Context by Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel
Rosamond King, Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel, Caribbean, Caribbean Literature, Diaspora, Migration, Immigration, Colonialism, 17th Century Caribbean, 19th Century Caribbean, Postcolonial Literature, Pirates, Archipelagos, Filipino Literature
An important addition to the critiques of postcoloniality, the Coloniality of Diasporas: Rethinking Intra-Colonial Migrations in a Pan-Caribbean Context specifically details the cogent critique that theories of postcoloniality, transnationalism, and global migration that “take sovereign nation-states as the point of departure” are inappropriate for the contemporary realities of Caribbean territories, many of which exist outside of full self-governance (1). Author Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel further argues that migration between a territory that continues to exist under “extended colonialism” and the nation that colonizes it is substantively [End Page 348] different from other types of immigration in which one is not already a citizen of the country they travel to. She uses a comparative approach, adeptly navigating the diversity of the region while analyzing works in English, Spanish, and French, across centuries as well as geographic and political boundaries.
Coloniality of Diasporas is divided into three sections which progress in chronological order. “Colonial Archipelagic Dislocations,” Part I, examines texts from the 17th to the 19th centuries that address the presence or absence of international identification in the Caribbean and Philippine archipelagos. Comparative research in the academy does not often go beyond regions, and when it does, it typically includes North-South and North-North comparisons, but rarely South-South comparisons. In this section, the author challenges Latin American Studies paradigms that rarely accommodate the particular histories of the Caribbean, and Caribbean Studies models that are typically monolingual.
The second section, “Caribbean Colonialities,” compares the literary “returns” of Aimé Césaire and Luis Muñoz Marín, and addresses the racialization outside of the Caribbean of Frantz Fanon and Piri Thomas. “Extended Postcolonialities,” the book’s final section, revisits creolization, one of the most discussed theories of Caribbean identity, and proposes the concepts of créolité, mulataje, gender, and sexile as more relevant to Caribbean experiences.
In Chapter 1, “La gran colonia: Piracy and Coloniality of Diasporas in the Spanish and French Caribbean in the Seventeenth Century,” the author “circumvents the modern and romantic reappropriations” of pirates in general and pirates of the Caribbean in particular. She examines the figure of the pirate, the buccaneer, the corsair, the filibuster, and the privateer in Infortunios de Alonso Ramírez (1690) and Nouveau voyage aux isles de l’Amerique (1693–1705) by Père Labat are examined. Martínez-San Miguel’s conclusion is that “[i]n each of these narratives the protagonist is represented as a loner that questions the colonial system, yet he is not interested in proposing an alternative collective imaginary” (22). Her readings thus interrupt the assumption that nationalism has consistently been the primary and preferred alternative to colonialism. Similarly, in Chapter 2, the focus is on antiheroes whose engagement with filibusterismo led to anticolonial yet nonnationalist behavior. “Archipiélagos de ultramar: Filibusterismo and Extended Colonialism in the Caribbean and the Philippines” argues that the protagonists of Cuban Cirilo Villaverde’s novel Cecilia Valdés and Philippine José Rizal’s novel El filibusterismo, like the histories of the Caribbean and Filipino archipelagos, are “often illegible/unreadable within a field of Latin American literary studies that still privileges a notion of literature as a national construct” (71).
Chapter 3 begins the second section by analyzing two canonical Caribbean texts: Cahier d’un retour au pays natal and Cantos de la humanidad forcejando, by Aimé Césaire and Luis Muñoz Marín, respectively. Martínez-San Miguel argues that [End Page 349] these long poems are colonial epics, “a poetic-literary form whose main objective is the recognition of the humanity of the colonial subject instead of the articulation of a collective national identity” (79). While Cahier proposes race as a unifying identity, and Cantos proposes uniting around class, the chapter...