Given the importance of literature to various forms of social cohesion, it is not surprising that the European and US empires that have dominated the geopolitical existence of the insular Caribbean have not readily invested in literary infrastructure throughout the archipelago. The impact of empire on infrastructure for the production of Caribbean literature remains underexamined at large, however. Accounting for the political and economic dimensions of the literary power produced by empire would contribute to the denaturalization of such power, and, this essay argues, decolonize the terms of literary value. The author illuminates the centrality of literary infrastructure to Caribbean literary history through a reparative critique of Pascale Casanova’s theory of the world literary marketplace in dialogue with reflections by a contemporaneous set of highly influential authors from the francophone, hispanophone, and anglophone Caribbean: Aimé Césaire, Lino Novás Calvo, George Lamming, and V. S. Naipaul.
The Void, the Distance, Elsewhere: Literary Infrastructure and Empire in the Caribbean
Katerina Gonzalez Seligmann is an assistant professor of literature at Emerson College. She is currently completing her first book, “Writing the Caribbean in Magazine Time.” Her essays appear in South Atlantic Quarterly, MLN, Global South, and Inti. She coedited, with Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, “Con-federating the Archipelago,” a special section of Small Axe 61 (2020), and she translated the poetry collection Spinning Mill (2019) by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias.
Katerina Gonzalez Seligmann; The Void, the Distance, Elsewhere: Literary Infrastructure and Empire in the Caribbean. Small Axe 1 July 2020; 24 (2 (62)): 1–16. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8604442
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