This essay discusses the process of field formation within Caribbean studies in relation to the building of archives, challenging Eurocentric conceptualizations of history and history making as well as counterdominant tropes about the region and the people who have inhabited it. It explores the purposes served by such archival projects and in so doing interrogates how and why certain social phenomena are more easily captured within the vindicationist ethos surrounding archive building. While many of the early archives that were created were easily and explicitly mobilized toward the projects of political and cultural nationalism, one archive in particular—the emergent archive of violence—cannot be effortlessly rallied toward these ends. Instead, archives of violence bring into relief the limits of the anticolonial and immediately postcolonial focus on the nation-state as the primary locus of vindication. They also encourage us to return our vision more pointedly to the transnational geopolitical spheres that both constituted the frame of reference for earlier internationalists and Pan-Africanists and infuse the social and political worlds of contemporary Caribbean people. Using reparations as a framework for thinking can move us in that direction.
Deborah A. Thomas; Caribbean Studies, Archive Building, and the Problem of Violence. Small Axe 1 July 2013; 17 (2 (41)): 27–42. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-2323301
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