This article argues that the concept of bricolage in the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss is part of a greater poetics, an underdog or “dark horse” poetics that advocates for “the culture of the weak” and embodies an activist historiography. This reexamination of Lévi-Strauss's work is illuminated by a call-and-response between his Tristes Tropiques and Antonio Benítez-Rojo's The Repeating Island. A close reading reveals that the work of Benítez-Rojo extends one central discursive trope established by Lévi-Strauss—that of the cultural “transformation group.” For Benítez-Rojo, the Caribbean is itself a transformation group that shares many invariant features that “repeat” in the Caribbean. One such feature is the presence in the Caribbean of epic cultural “machines of a certain kind” that work to “defuse the violence” created by the plantation machines. This essay articulates the necessity of establishing a genealogy for activist historiography.

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