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Abstract

For a rare and rigorous comparative analysis of how sex and sexuality function “as tools of pleasure and politics” in the Caribbean region and diaspora (1), critics must turn to Rosamond King’s Island Bodies: Transgressive Sexualities in the Caribbean Imagination (2014). King’s monograph is refreshing, not simply because of its focus on the Caribbean continuum of sexuality from the 1970s until the present, but because of its impressive comparative depth in terms of structure and content. The comparative approach adopted by Island Bodies achieves a balanced attention to the Caribbean diaspora and region, while also engaging popular culture, politics, and literature from the Anglophone, Francophone, Hispanophone, and Dutch Caribbean. In addition, King’s comparativism is evident in her focus on “heterosexual and nonheterosexual experiences” (9) while attending to the transgression and restriction of sexuality within the Caribbean imaginary and public discourse. Acknowledging that the ideal Caribbean citizen is defined primarily as a male heteronormative subject, King centers on the production and depiction of four sites of transgression: “unconventional genders, homosexuality, women’s sexual agency, and interracial relationships” (9). Throughout Island Bodies, King thoughtfully engages and builds upon the work of other critics who have contributed substantially to the critical articulation of sexuality studies such as Jacqui Alexander, Jafari Allen, Kamala Kempadoo, and Omise’eke Tinsley.

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