Abstract

In May 2022 the novel Diego Garcia, coauthored by Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams, was published, to immediate critical acclaim. As its title suggests, the text reflects on the violent history of the annexation of the Chagos archipelago. However, the novel's aim is not simply to raise awareness on this issue but also to engage in an in-depth consideration on how to care for and write about other people's political struggles. Indeed, in Diego Garcia, literary experimentations actively express the text's political concerns and reflections on solidarity. This article argues that some of the clues for understanding Diego Garcia's aesthetic innovations as a methodology for social justice can be found in Soobramanien's debut novel, Genie and Paul (2012), a postcolonial rewriting of Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's famous novel Paul et Virginie (1789). The two novels share a profound interest in denouncing inequality as a consequence of capitalism and colonialisation, and importantly also share a geographical location within the Mascarene archipelago. The article turns to the archipelagic thought and its Glissantian filiation to explicate these correspondences and develop the concept of archipelagic memory as a reading methodology for grasping together both the texts’ political intentions and aesthetic innovations. In doing so, it argues that archipelagic memory is an aesthetic of memorialization, which cultivates equality by drawing connections between local events and global systems, and demonstrates that the text's considerations of Indian Ocean geopolitics illuminate the archipelago's potential as a methodology of political solidarity.

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