Archipelagic American Studies
This chapter focuses on the Caribbean archipelago as a geopolitical and historical unit. An archipelago actually combines groups of islands and their corresponding networks of ports, fortifications, plantations, and cities, as well as their social, cultural, and productive systems. The first section of the chapter analyzes an example from a corpus of maps produced by European cartographers in which the Caribbean is represented as the “Mexican archipelago,” to meditate about how colonial archipelagoes were imagined in the context of interimperial competition during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the second part of the chapter, a short story by Tiphanie Yanique from the US Virgin Islands provides an example of how this archipelagic colonial imaginary is transformed into a decolonial archipelago in early twenty-first-century literature. The chapter closes with reflections on the implications and utility of rethinking the Caribbean and Caribbean studies from a colonial and decolonial archipelagic perspective.