This essay examines the relationship between debt and memory that is emerging in contemporary calls for reparation and Caribbean Canadian literature. CARICOM's and Ta-Nehisi Coates's discussions of reparatory justice, as well as David Chariandy's Soucouyant and Ramabai Espinet's The Swinging Bridge, characterize the black Atlantic's colonial history as an outstanding debt. Collectively, they demonstrate that this past continues to overdetermine the transnational present. This assertion challenges cultural studies' tendency to parse “the colonial,” “the postcolonial,” and “the transnational” as distinct historical phases in a teleologic progression, and exposes the polarization of history and memory, archive and body, that increasingly undergirds diaspora studies' memory-work. Although the concept of “diasporic memory” has scholarly traction, it also places enormous pressure on diasporic bodies to demonstrate specific forms of counter-memory. Rather than supporting this binary or the ethical distinctions it relies on, Chariandy and Espinet underscore embodied memory's fragility and offer an unexpected archival alternative in diasporic characters' financial records.
L. Camille van der Marel; Amortizing Memory: Debt as Mnemonic Device in Caribbean Canadian Literature. Small Axe 1 November 2017; 21 (3 (54)): 17–39. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-4271953
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