Dionne Brand's memoir, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging, touches on the author's childhood in Trinidad and adulthood in Canada but is equally concerned with understanding and intervening in the larger histories among which Brand situates her identity. A lush work of memories, poetry, and criticism, the work presents vignettes from the author's life alongside her meditations on writing, history, mapmaking, and most important for this essay, the archives. Brand's memoir is replete with supporting materials that range from ffteenth-century journals and letters to contemporary critical theory, from geographers' logs to films and pop culture. Her sources are rich and varied, and they can be broken down into three general types: the historical archives written during the “age of exploration” and the slave trade; the contemporary archives of newspapers and journals; and the creative archive of postcolonial writers, or what I am calling the neo-archive. Brand's memoir participates in an entire genre of postcolonial and in particular Caribbean literature that addresses the colonial archive. She thus provides a singular overview of the neo-archive by bringing many of these texts into dialogue with one another, and she explores as well the dialogue between such texts and the dozens of archival fragments she incorporates into her self-portrait.

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