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Sex and the Citizen

Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean

Edited by Faith Smith
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 304
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    Sex and the Citizen
    Book Description:

    Sex and the Citizenis a multidisciplinary collection of essays that draws on current anxieties about "legitimate" sexual identities and practices across the Caribbean to explore both the impact of globalization and the legacy of the region's history of sexual exploitation during colonialism, slavery, and indentureship. Speaking from within but also challenging the assumptions of feminism, literary and cultural studies, and queer studies, this volume questions prevailing oppositions between the backward, homophobic nation-state and the laid-back, service-with-a-smile paradise or between giving in ignominiously to the autocratic demands of the global north and equating postcolonial sovereignty with a "wholesome" heterosexual citizenry.

    The contributors use parliamentary legislation, novels, film, and other texts to examine Martinique's relationship to France; the diasporic relationships between the Dominican Republic and New York City, between India and Trinidad, and between Mexico's capital city and its Caribbean coast; "indigenous" names for sexual practices and desires in Suriname and the Eastern Caribbean; and other topics. This volume will appeal to readers interested in how sex has become an important register for considerations of citizenship, personal and political autonomy, and identity in the Caribbean and the global south.

    Contributors: Vanessa Agard-Jones * Odile Cazenave * Michelle Cliff * Susan Dayal * Alison Donnell * Donette Francis * Carmen Gillespie* Rosamond S. King * Antonia MacDonald-Smythe * Tejaswini Niranjana * Evelyn O'Callaghan * Tracy Robinson * Patricia Saunders * Yasmin Tambiah * Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley * Rinaldo Walcott * M. S. Worrell

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3132-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Sexing the Citizen
    (pp. 1-18)
    Faith Smith

    What does it mean to beCaribe, Antillais, West Indian, Kréyol, Kwéyòl, Créole, Creole,and why are responses to this question tied so insistently to the sexed bodies, practices, and identities of the region’s people? The contributors to this volume address this question by looking across the Caribbean, including its extended diasporic and coastal parameters. They examine parliamentary legislation, novels, film, and the visual arts. They speak from within but also challenge the assumptions of feminism, literary and cultural studies, queer studies, and anthropology. Literary texts, ethnographic interviews, and scenes from the classroom test claims made about agency, the reach...

  5. Contemporary Package Deals

    • Buyers Beware, “Hoodwinking” on the Rise: Epistemologies of Consumption in Terry McMillan’s Caribbean
      (pp. 21-36)
      Patricia Saunders

      InConsuming the CaribbeanMimi Sheller analyzes the patterns and ethics involved in consuming commodities from the Caribbean. She argues that the ethics of consumerism has far-reaching implications that stretch from the tables of Europeans to sugar plantations in the Caribbean and to the countries in Africa where human beings were stolen and brought to the shores of the Americas. In Sheller’s view, the bodies being consumed to produce goods for the British Empire and the bodies involved in consuming these goods are more intricately bound than we have cared to admit. She notes that

      in relation to the Caribbean,...

    • “Nobody Ent Billing Me”: A U.S./Caribbean Intertextual, Intercultural Call-and-Response
      (pp. 37-52)
      Carmen Gillespie

      On the Caribbean island nation of Barbados there is a place called Farley Hill. Farley Hill is a windswept landscape perched on one of the highest points on the island. From there, unlike from most locations on the island, you cannot hear but you can see the sea. The trees of Farley Hill are never still, and it is cool and dark, even at noon. Beyond the trees, there is a cane field, the primary source of income for all of the previous owners of the Farley Hill plantation. The house, now roofless, is home only to tourists, Sunday picnics,...

    • Novel Insights: Sex Work, Secrets, and Depression in Angie Cruz’s Soledad
      (pp. 53-72)
      Donette Francis

      This essay examines contemporary Caribbean women’s writings to consider their novel insights about sexuality and female citizenship. The ethos of this fiction articulates a feminist poetics that I define asantiromance,which writes beyond the conciliatory happy ending by foregrounding the intimate lives of Caribbean women and girls to underscore that neither familial home, national homeland, nor immigrant nation functions as a safe space of belonging; and female characters therefore often dwell in liminal spaces of vulnerability. Centering the sexed female body, these novels demonstrate that from their very inception Caribbean states, because of not only the constraints of globalized...

  6. Diasporic Citizenship

    • Against the Rules of Blackness: Hilton Als’s The Women and Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother (Or How to Raise Black Queer Kids)
      (pp. 75-86)
      Rinaldo Walcott

      The title of this essay pays homage in part to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s 1991 essay “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay.” Sedgwick’s essay is a reading of revisionary psychoanalysis and psychiatry in the post–DSM III excision of homosexuality as pathology. She argues that the attempt to normalize adult homosexual bodies is simultaneously an attempt to render gay bodies not present, and she suggests that this is done through an attempt to pathologize youthful sexualities. Sedgwick’s critique of “the new psychiatry of gay acceptance” (23) is cautioned by her readings of medical discourses on gender-disordered youth or youth who...

    • Francophone Caribbean Women Writers: Rethinking Identity, Sexuality, and Citizenship
      (pp. 87-100)
      Odile Cazenave

      In a number of recent articles, I have examined the implications of age, space, and gender for the postcolonial Francophone novel. Notably, in “Francophone Women Writers in France in the Nineties” I look at Francophone women authors and what it means to be writing a postcolonial novel within France—how Caribbean women writers in that instance have shifted their gaze, no longer necessarily directing it only toward the Antilles, and how some of the more recent narratives address the question of French Caribbeans living in the metropole and in the United States.

      In “Écritures des sexualités dans le roman francophone...

    • Indian Nationalism and Female Sexuality: A Trinidadian Tale
      (pp. 101-124)
      Tejaswini Niranjana

      The otherness of the Indian, or sometimes “Eastern,” female body is a common enough trope in Orientalisms of various kinds and has been the focus of much postcolonial feminist theoretical intervention in recent years. A more central preoccupation among feminists in India in the last decade or two has been to understand the gendered nature of our (non-Western) modernity and its specific concern with maintaining Indianness or cultural authenticity in the midst of social transformation. Attention has been drawn to the reformulation of patriarchal authority at different moments in the history of anti-imperialist struggle and to the recomposition of “Indian...

    • Caribbean Migrations: Negotiating Borders
      (pp. 125-135)
      Evelyn O’Callaghan

      In her studyWhat Women Lose,María Cristina Rodríguez unpacks literary accounts of migration—what Alison Donnell calls the condition of “elsewhereness” (“What It Means to Stay”)—by Caribbean women writers. However, it is increasingly tricky to distinguish between Caribbean and migrant or diasporic Caribbean writers, since contemporary writers from the region tend to spend extended periods of time “lsewhere”(Europe or North America) as temporary, permanent, or “trategic” igrants. But returning to Rodríguez’s title, it is necessary to clarify that she also speaks to what Caribbean women are seen togain“elsewhere,” mainly in the British and North American cities...

    • Reflections on She Web
      (pp. 136-140)
      Susan Dayal

      In 2000 I was invited to contribute images of my artwork toSmall Axe,then published by the University of the West Indies Press in Kingston, Jamaica, for a special issue entitled “Genders and Sexualities.” I was excited about being included, and I looked forward to seeing the result of this kind of collaboration.

      My artwork in the period 1989–99 dealt with women’s attitudes toward their bodies and their images as women. I cannot neatly categorize this work, but these pieces consist of wearable sculptures, or costumes, accompanied by self-portrait photos in which I am wearing and performing the...

  7. Desiring Subjects and Modernity

    • Threatening Sexual (Mis)Behavior: Homosexuality in the Penal Code Debates in Trinidad and Tobago, 1986
      (pp. 143-156)
      Yasmin Tambiah

      Sexual behaviors and their organization have been subjected to serious contestation since the 1980s in legal terrains of states in the global south. Scholars of challenges faced by postcolonial societies have demonstrated how definitions of the reproductive and sexual roles of (especially female) citizens in “state” texts, such as constitutions and other law codes, have had important implications for the self-representation of a postcolonial state. Nationalist leaders concerned with the development of postcolonial states have negotiated between, on the one hand, embracing a secular, scientific model for modernization that draws on post-Enlightenment schemes of reasoning and knowledge and, on the...

    • Sexual Awakenings and the Malignant Fictions of Masculinity in Alfonso Cuáron’s Y tu mamá también
      (pp. 157-167)
      M. S. Worrell

      In “The Truth of Fiction” Chinua Achebe contends that the human desire and capacity for fiction can emancipate us from orthodox ideological enslavement and recalcitrant literal-mindedness (141, 151). Although Achebe articulates the epistemological and ethical merits of the art of fiction, he contends that the gulf betweenbeingand knowing necessitates the construction of fictions, some of which demand one’s total and unconditional fidelity (141). Achebe considers the human capacity for fiction an existential requirement for dealing with the apparent obscurity toward which human experience tends. This does not mean that all of our fictions, however appealing, are useful or...

    • Living and Loving: Emancipating the Caribbean Queer Citizen in Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night
      (pp. 168-180)
      Alison Donnell

      Published in 1998, Shani Mootoo’sCereus Blooms at Nightintertexts both with Caribbean literary works and with the political and ethical debates relating to the regulation of Caribbean sexualities in disturbing and yet productive ways. The text issues a roll call to some of the most sensitive issues around sexuality in the Caribbean—same-sex loving, transgender identities, incest, and rape—many of which remain almost silent within literary critical discourses. I seek here to explore the ways in which this novel not only raises interesting and troubling questions about how sexual identities come into being and the attitudes toward sexual...

    • Le Jeu de Qui? Sexual Politics at Play in the French Caribbean
      (pp. 181-198)
      Vanessa Agard-Jones

      In April 2007 the Paris-based gay magazineTêtupublished an article by Martin Barzilai provocatively titled “La douleur des makoumés: Homophobie en Martinique” (The sorrow of the faggots: homophobia in Martinique).¹ The piece appears under a photograph of black male bodies, shown from the neck down, in motion, presumably dancing. They are clothed in vaguely “tribal” wear: all are bare-chested, and the man at the center of the shot wears a leopard-print armband and a leather and raf-fia belt, slung low. The caption identifies the photograph as a scene from Carnival, taken at a party called “Jungle Juice,” where during...

  8. Reimagining Pasts and Futures

    • Our Imagined Lives
      (pp. 201-213)
      Tracy Robinson

      A pressing demand of Caribbean feminism now, I believe, and I am speaking particularly to the English-speaking Caribbean, is to mark out as we see them the shapes of women’s imagined lives. If the contemporary Caribbean is, as I have suggested elsewhere (see “Fictions”), mired by fictions of women’s citizenship, then in addition to, and not at the expense of, the labor Caribbean feminists already engage in, part of feminism’s ongoing and collective project is to piece together with theforce of imaginationrich descriptions of our aspirations for women, including ourselves.

      I am speaking of full lives, with all...

    • New Citizens, New Sexualities: Nineteenth-Century Jamettes
      (pp. 214-223)
      Rosamond S. King

      The abolition of chattel slavery caused upheaval everywhere and every time it happened, literally creating new citizens out of people previously categorized as property. This was certainly the case in Trinidad when emancipation became official in 1834. By the late nineteenth century the transformation of Trinidadian colonial society was well under way, with the transition from Spanish to British colonial powers, the arrival of Indian and Chinese indentured workers to take over plantation labor, and the rise of the black Creolejametteclass.¹ Not surprisingly, the new black citizens in this colony inhabited citizenship in new ways and created new...

    • Macocotte: An Exploration of Same-Sex Friendship in Selected Caribbean Novels
      (pp. 224-240)
      Antonia MacDonald-Smythe

      In St. Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica the intense friendship shared by young adolescent girls is typically described as amacocotterelationship¹ This relationship is characterized by exclusivity, devotion, and intense emotional passion. Best friends, secrets-sharing and inseparable, the young girls demonstrate the intensity of their affection through constant hugging and kissing. Although there is no English translation for this Kwéyòl (French Creole) word, the macocotte practice also exists in other Caribbean countries.² In all instances this bonding space is defined by expressions of pleasurable intimacy, the sensuality of frequent bodily contact, the tenderness of devotedness, and the “rightness” and the...

    • What Is a Uma? Women Performing Gender and Sexuality in Paramaribo, Suriname
      (pp. 241-250)
      Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley

      “So yu tel, mi tel, so tel di huol a wi fain out se a di wan stuori wi a tel: Uman stori. Di siem ting uova and uova. Bot it no iizi fi get op tel piil yu bizniz na!” writes Carolyn Cooper in her description of the work of the Jamaican theater collective Sistren (Noises91). Published in her 1993 monographNoises in the Blood,this innovative Jamaican-language essay proclaimed Creole to be not only a subject that academics might theorize about but also a medium in which to write theory. Like the women of Sistren, Creole speaks...

    • Colonial Girl: And What Would It Be Like
      (pp. 251-256)
      Michelle Cliff
    • Bibliography
      (pp. 257-284)
    • Notes on Contributors
      (pp. 285-288)
    • Index
      (pp. 289-292)