Abstract

Abstract:

Critical literature on David Chariandy's Soucouyant has explored the dementia suffered by the protagonist's mother, Adele, as a metaphor for the erasure of Black experience from cultural memory and dominant historical narratives and as a response to the traumatic effects of imperialism. This essay builds on these critical insights using a postcolonial ecocritical lens to argue that in Chariandy's novel, dementia is both an effect and symptom of the multiple sites of chemical exposure that disproportionately impact low-income communities of color. From Adele's and her husband Roger's origins in Trinidad to their home and work environments in Canada, the family's multiple encounters with byproducts of industrial production are inseparably linked to legacies of colonialism and racism. This reading traces the roots of Adele's trauma to environmental and cultural disruptions wrought by the United States' military occupation of Trinidad during World War II. We also examine SoucouyantS critique of Canada's discourse of neoliberal multiculturalism as well as the novel's relevance to Indigenous-Black solidarity movements against racism, white supremacy, and injustices in Canada. In its attention to epistemologies of memory and the multigenerational effects of (neo)colonialism, Soucouyant is a literary intervention in support of local and global decolonization struggles for social, environmental, and ecological justice.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1920-1222
Print ISSN
0004-1327
Pages
pp. 81-104
Launched on MUSE
2019-07-23
Open Access
No
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