The Italian theater director, Eugenio Barba, founder of Odin Teatret, wondered: “But, beyond the islands […] what is it that exists? What and who is to be found there?” (Barba 1986:470). To this, he answers: “There are people who live in a nation, in a culture. And there are people who live in their own bodies” (1986:471). This concern, which was first applied by Barba to the dramatic experience, and is at the base of his Anthropology of Theater and Spectacle, works better when we reflect not only on the identity of the other, over there (beyond), but rather on the precise identity of the one who asks, situated here. In the Forward to the second edition of Truth and Method, Gadamer attempted to solve this concern based on Heidegger’s idea of horizon, which: “denotes the basic being-in-motion of Dasein that constitutes its finitude and historicity, and hence embraces the whole of its experience of the world. Not caprice, or even an elaboration of a single aspect, but the nature of the thing itself makes the movement of understanding comprehensive and universal” (Gadamer 2004:xxv). This assertion leads to the idea of the co-existence of a variety of partial horizons, each immersed in a totally encompassing horizon where human life and intellect play out. Consequently, the comprehension of the other is conceived as a system of relations that, as well as dissolving the theory-praxis dichotomy, can also form a network out of the utility of knowledge.
This dossier explores the cultural production of the non-insular, mainland and diasporic Caribbean; a Caribbean space beyond the islands, one that we see as oscillating between a set of imaginaries drawn along pan-regional historical-cultural lines and national projects, that often leave these Caribbean spaces at the margin. Our research discusses the mainland Caribbean, seen as a series of networking trans-insular regional territories, that constantly challenge and explore hegemonic identities, cultural expressions and expectations. Mainland Caribbean spaces, often represented within both continental and national discourses as in some way “out of place,” “on the margins,” or even “empty,” display a rooted identity as well as rhizomatic interregional connections (Glissant 1997). Rooted identities, constructed in cultural texts through ideas and tropes of belonging, display their rhizomatic connections through complex regional performances where rootedness repeats and interacts in multiple layers and with overlapping patterns of identity. By using a transdisciplinary and multilingual approach, our research reveals both these specific connections as well as the shared identities that go beyond national identifications, to construct a regional, mainland Caribbean dialogue.
In this sense, ideas such as the ones put forward by Portuguese [End Page 3] philosopher Boaventura de Sousa Santos are very appealing. He argues that a “diatopic hermeneutics” intends to “offer a translation process between orders of knowledge belonging to diverse cultural systems, as well as comprising a model for intercultural dialogue” (in, Vergalito 2009:20). In order to achieve this, we must strive to end cultural waste (brought about by western modernity) through the recovery of forgotten, marginal or disqualified cultural fragments; thus leading to the achievement of a comprehensive, liberating, multidimensional and intercultural “cosmopolitan reasoning.” This path to understanding the other and to a fusion with self from the fragmentary, is of primary importance, as it is at the very center of the encounter of the horizons of others:
Diatopical hermeneutics is based on the idea that the topoi of an individual culture, no matter how strong they may be, are as incomplete as the culture itself […] The objective of diatopical hermeneutics is therefore not to achieve completeness […] but on the contrary, to raise the consciousness of reciprocal incompleteness to its maximum possible by engaging in the dialogue, as it were, with one foot in one culture and the other in another. Herein is its diatopical character.(De Sousa Santos 2002:273)
It is from this context of diatopical dialogue that we approach the Caribbean. The writers and editors of this volume work and reside in different parts of the Caribbean and the diaspora, and came together sponsored by the research project “Representaciones literarias...