Archipelagic American Studies
This essay argues that “trash” is a key category for understanding processes of cultural devaluation and decapitalization. It investigates what it frames as despised forms in a specific literary archive: the vast production of Caribbean pulp fiction published in the post-WWII period. Examining the circulation of archipelagic trash in the circum-Atlantic region, the essay traces the boom in representations of white trash subjectivities in postwar Caribbean plantation family sagas, from their incipient manifestation in the early works of Edgar Mittelholzer to their mutation in the burgeoning popular fiction market of Christopher Nicole. The essay considers Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) as an archetypal archipelagic form that not only encompasses the wide circum-Atlantic region (Jamaica, Dominica, England) but also elucidates the political vision of the white trash Caribbean pulp fictions. Wide Sargasso Sea exposes a white trash political mythos that thus far had remained buried in the calm waters of an archipelagic Caribbean.