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Routes and Roots

Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures

Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey
Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Routes and Roots
    Book Description:

    Routes and Roots is the first comparative study of Caribbean and Pacific Island literatures and the first work to bring indigenous and diaspora literary studies together in a sustained dialogue. Taking the "tidalectic" between land and sea as a dynamic starting point, Elizabeth DeLoughrey foregrounds geography and history in her exploration of how island writers inscribe the complex relation between routes and roots. The first section looks at the sea as history in literatures of the Atlantic middle passage and Pacific Island voyaging, theorizing the transoceanic imaginary. The second section turns to the land to examine indigenous epistemologies in nation-building literatures. Both sections are particularly attentive to the ways in which the metaphors of routes and roots are gendered, exploring how masculine travelers are naturalized through their voyages across feminized lands and seas. This methodology of charting transoceanic migration and landfall helps elucidate how theories and people travel, positioning island cultures in the world historical process. In fact, DeLoughrey demonstrates how these tropical island cultures helped constitute the very metropoles that deemed them peripheral to modernity. Fresh in its ideas, original in its approach, Routes and Roots engages broadly with history, anthropology, and feminist, postcolonial, Caribbean, and Pacific literary and cultural studies. It productively traverses diaspora and indigenous studies in a way that will facilitate broader discussion between these often segregated disciplines.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6418-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: Genealogies of Place
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Note on the Text
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION Tidalectics: Navigating Repeating Islands
    (pp. 1-48)

    In the poem from which this epigraph is drawn, Tobagonian writer Eric Roach inscribes “a shoal of sea-beleaguered lands” bequeathed to the contemporary Caribbean subject. They are “difficult . . . to inherit” due to their violent history of colonization and their complex layering of native and diaspora populations. For Roach, the islands are a space where “indigenous blood still stains the grass,” signifying the corporal residue of history, its localization and merger with natural space, and the landscape’s propensity to absorb and reflect human history. “Those whom bondage bit to bone” are legible for historical recuperation because their artistic...

  6. I The Sea is History:: Transoceanic Diasporas

    • CHAPTER 1 Middle Passages: Modernity and Creolization
      (pp. 51-95)

      One of the most important Caribbean contributions to the conceptualization of space and time is an originary narrative of transoceanic diaspora. While western scholars are increasingly turning to the Atlantic as a paradigm of transnational crossings and flows, the conceptual implications of this oceanic model have been deeply explored in the Caribbean, where tidalectics reconceptualize diaspora historiography. As I’ve explained, tidalectics foreground a cyclical model of history and resist the teleology of a Hegelian dialectical synthesis.¹ Drawing upon land /sea cartography, tidalectics foreground historical trajectories of dispersal and destabilize island isolation by highlighting waves of migrant landfalls into the Caribbean....

    • CHAPTER 2 Vessels of the Pacific: An Ocean in the Blood
      (pp. 96-158)

      A tidalectic methodology of reading island literatures brings together the rooted discourse of terrestrial belonging with the fluidity of transoceanic migration, foregrounding the process of diaspora and highlighting the complex relationship between national and regional identities. Although Pacific Island discourse is generally associated with indigenous sovereignty and a historic relationship to the land, to read these cultural productions tidalectically one must engage with the vital counter-narrative of transoceanic routes and diaspora. In fact, this chapter shows that contestations over land sovereignty in the Pacific are often mitigated through maritime origins; thus regional aquatic routes often sustain local roots. Like their...

  7. II Indigenous Landscapes and National Settlements

    • CHAPTER 3 Dead Reckoning: National Genealogies in Aotearoa/New Zealand
      (pp. 161-195)

      This chapter explores the role of whakapapa, or genealogy, in contemporary Maori discourses of Aotearoa/New Zealand, a corporeal historiography or “meta-physics” that offers a dynamic and relational approach to the nexus of space and time, often symbolized by the spiral. This book focuses on these epistemologies of space-time because the recent scholarly emphasis on discourses of diaspora and globalization (routes) have largely overlooked indigeneity (roots). More alarmingly, it has become increasingly common to dismiss sedentary and rooted conceptions of space and nation and to define them as necessarily conservative and essentialist discourses that produce ethnic violence.¹ This is a dangerous...

    • CHAPTER 4 Adrift and Unmoored: Globalization and Urban Indigeneity
      (pp. 196-228)

      While the last chapter examined the natural and botanical metaphors invoked by the roots of Maori diaspora and resettlement, here I focus on the repercussions of the presumably unnatural routes of indigenous urbanization and globalization in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The terms “globalization” and “indigeneity” may seem to be diametrically opposed. On the one hand, globalization invokes a specifically unnatural formulation of fractured, heterogeneous, and hierarchical social spaces that are constituted by the logic of transnational capital. Discourses of indigeneity, on the other hand, seem inextricably bound to natural, rooted, precapitalist, and communal formations that are at once constituted by the objectives...

    • CHAPTER 5 Landfall: Carib and Arawak Sedimentation
      (pp. 229-268)

      I conclude this book by examining the ways in which the indigenous Caribbean is employed in anglophone island literature to validate the process of landfall or cultural sovereignty in the wake of transnational globalization. This chapter marks an important shift in Caribbean literature because the region is often characterized in terms of diaspora, despite the fact that there has been a remarkable increase in the production of fictional texts that nativize Caribbean landscapes. The recent shift from diaspora to indigenous narratives can be likened to the conceptual system of “moving islands” where a “multiple reference orientation” (Lewis 1994, 148) brings...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 269-272)

    I would like to conclude this book with a few comments on how the geopoetics of routes and roots remap the dynamic relations of space in ways that help us deepen our concepts of time and its ruptures. In the story “Middle Passage Anancy” from which this epigraph is drawn, the trickster spider becomes a witness to the “Dance of the souls of the dead slaves,” a “spectacle of memory and history exploding out of the waves and all over the bubbling Atlantic” (1992, 13). The spectacle causes a “roots change” (14) in Anancy’s character, a recognition of how this...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 273-296)
  10. References
    (pp. 297-324)
  11. Index
    (pp. 325-334)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-336)