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Postcolonial Archipelagos

Essays on Hispanic Caribbean and Lusophone African Fiction

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Kristian Van Haesendonck

Writers from different postcolonial regions are usually classified according to their different nationalities or linguistic areas, and have rarely been brought together in one volume. Moving in a new direction, Postcolonial Archipelagos crosses not only geographical but also linguistic boundaries, by focusing on two contexts which seemingly have little or nothing in common with one another: the Hispanic Caribbean, and Lusophone Africa. Kristian Van Haesendonck thus opens new ground, in two ways: first, by making connections between contemporary Caribbean and African writers, moving beyond the topos of slavery and negritude in order to analyse the (im)possibility of conviviality in postcolonial cultures; and secondly, by exploring new ways of approaching these literatures as postcolonial archipelagic configurations with historical links to their respective metropoles, yet also as elements of what Glissant and Hannerz have respectively called "Tout-Monde" and a "world in creolization". Although the focus is on writers from Lusophone Africa (Mia Couto, José Luis Mendonça and Guilherme Mendes da Silva) and the Hispanic Caribbean (Junot Díaz, Eduardo Lalo, Marta Aponte, James Stevens-Arce and Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá), connections are made with and within the broader global context of intensified globalization.

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Chapter 7. Travelling concepts I: From the Caribbean to Europe

Extract

Chapter 7

Travelling concepts I: From the Caribbean to Europe

We are all Caribbeans now in our urban archipelagos (James Clifford)

7.1 Composite cultures

Visiting Césaire

Visiting the island of Martinique, Charles de Gaulle once said that “Entre l’Europe et l’Amérique, je ne vois que des poussières”.1 It may not be obvious at first glance that the general thus stretched his own definition of the Europe he dreamt of – a geographical region that stretches from the Ural to the Atlantic – far beyond the borders of the imaginable. After all, was it not a fact that a colonial part of Europe was still located on the margins of the Americas? Indeed, except for some anti-colonialist voices, those “motes of dust” were not to jeopardize the Elysée’s colonial agenda in the Caribbean. Although in 1964, at the time of De Gaulle’s visit to Martinique, the heat of the struggle for decolonization was over – the independence of Algeria was already a fact – his statement carried at least an imperialist undertone.

Today, almost half a century later, the word “imperialism” sounds old-fashioned and is considered part of the past of one particular cluster of former empires: Europe. In the context of the Caribbean, the term now evokes images quite opposed to those of an attractive region where masses of tourists arrive daily in hopes of recovering a bit of paradise lost. Two specifically popular destinations for tourists...

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