This article argues that in her novel, At the Full and Change of the Moon (1999), Dionne Brand uses archives/archiving as a trope by which to trace slavery's aftereffects on the Caribbean and its diasporas. African diasporic authors and critics have long emphasized the necessity of what Erica Johnson has recently termed the “neo-archive”: works of art and literature that “create history in the face of its absence.” Brand, significantly, adopts the practice not only for purposes of historical recovery, but also to document the psychological and emotional risks of such work. At the Full suggests that though neo-archives can reconstruct silenced histories, such reconstructions cannot always provide catharsis. For instance, Brand's character Eula desires a coherent record of her family's past, yet this desire is thwarted by the scarcity and illegibility of written documents. Her longing for documentary proof only serves to emphasize how much of her history has been lost forever, and her efforts at reconstruction become a source of grief. I argue that Brand's novel suggests that other means of dealing with painful histories—such as compartmentalization or attempting to forget—should be recognized as survival strategies for African diasporic subjects. At the Full depathologizes these strategies, offering them a place within the neo-archive and incorporating them into the history of black life in the New World.

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