Publication Date

2013-06-21

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2015-06-22

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2013-05-08

First Committee Member

Patricia J. Saunders

Second Committee Member

Tim Watson

Third Committee Member

George Yúdice

Fourth Committee Member

Jerry Philogene

Abstract

This dissertation examines the ways in which contemporary Caribbean visual artists and writers are creating archives of memory that address the erasures of subaltern perspectives characteristic of colonial, and postcolonial, archives. From an interdisciplinary perspective this project looks at the artwork of visual artists Christopher Cozier and Roshini Kempadoo, Dorothea Smartt’s and M. NourbeSe Philip’s poetry and the fiction of Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz. Their creative work configures modes of archiving ‘counter-memory’, that is, memory that contradicts or revises official history. By looking at different forms of counter-memory across genres and geographies I aim to demonstrate common aesthetic concerns based on the visual and issues of visibility. What connects all these examples of counter-memory is their complex and multifaceted engagement with, and re-figuring of, the archive to open up alternative approaches to historical knowledge. By themselves archiving instances of counter-memory, their critical intervention can challenge and alter ways of knowing the past that are, in turn, revealing of current issues of social inequality. Ultimately, this process provides a potentially shared space for authors and readers/viewers to participate in, and share, the affect that these new aesthetics of archiving can potentially provoke. The scope of counter-memory in this dissertation reflects the interrelationship between individual and collective memory. The literary texts and artwork analyzed here show the inclusive possibilities of some representations of collective counter-memory where individual voices retain their individuality and find a space in a collective body of remembrance that accommodates their relationship to a given history or culture.

Keywords

Caribbean literature; aesthetics; archives; Caribbean visual arts; counter-memory; mourning

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