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Reviewed by:
  • Locating Guyane ed. by Catriona Macleod and Sarah Wood
  • Sophie Fuggle
Locating Guyane. Edited by Catriona Macleod and Sarah Wood. (Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 53.)Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2018. 248 pp., ill.

France's largest yet often most overlooked department, Guyane or French Guiana, has recently begun to attract global attention. The department was brought to a standstill during spring 2017 as a result of a significant social movement. Flights into and out of Guyane were suspended and the planned Ariane rocket launch had to be postponed. The basis for the movement was ongoing lack of investment in education and industry and, among other grievances, continued privileging of space-station activity offering little sustained benefit to local communities. In 2018 the focus shifted to the proposed project for a commercial goldmine à ciel ouvert. The mine has been promoted as assuring job creation and improved infrastructure yet there is increasing local opposition led by indigenous youth and environmental campaigners. I cite these two significant recent movements as key to understanding the growing importance of Guyane within French geopolitics. Although this collection of essays regrettably does not reference either, it does make a strong, compelling case for greater focus on Guyane within French and francophone studies. As such it is likely to become a key reference text in its questioning of Guyane as a complex, unique space which eschews easy comparison or conflation with the French Antilles, not least due to the multiple communities that exist along its borders with Brazil and Suriname. The collection assembles a series of engagements with Guyane that provide different approaches to notions of space and place from historical and contemporary perspectives drawing on literature, anthropology, linguistics, and queer studies. These perspectives, and the editors make no apology for this, are drawn from those located outside and their specific encounters with the space. Richard Price opens with a charmingly whimsical account of decades of fieldwork in Guyane and Suriname. Kari Evanson considers the different narratives produced by the grand reportages of Albert Londres and Marius Larique, who visited the penal colony in the early twentieth century. Silvia Espelt-Bombin provides a careful exposition of the geopolitical stakes of the territory in the seventeenth century and the role of the Amerindian population in France's claim on the space. At the heart of the collection, Sarah Wood's chapter on the memorialization of Félix Éboué first as statue then as airport brings together the book's different threads and questions via the figure of Éboué and his ongoing re-imagining to fit both French and Guyanais narratives. The collection avoids a chronological organization of material and the thematic presentation is unusual, allowing for the emergence of and return to different themes throughout. This can make for disconcerting reading, but it also works to refuse easy definitions or categories with which to locate Guyane. This reader's main criticism of the book lies perhaps with the disproportionate attention given to Léon-Gontran Damas as an almost unique source of what might be termed, following Bill Marshall, a 'queer' or 'queering' of Guyane. This focus can be read as a desire to apply categories and frames of queerness from outside with less attention, beyond Carnival, given to identities and practices taking place in Guyane itself. [End Page 327]

Sophie Fuggle
Nottingham Trent University


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