While scholarship on Suzanne Césaire has illuminated the critical role of ecopoetics in her writing, the strong psychoanalytic resonances that underpin her theory of Caribbean aesthetics and identity remain underexplored. This essay suggests that these resonances must be read alongside her reflections on aesthetics—specifically, the relationship between art and nature—in order to elucidate a fuller picture of Césaire’s ecopoetic theory of Caribbean subject formation. The author examines Césaire’s writing on art and civilization within the context of her explicit engagement with surrealism and her more camouflaged engagement with Freudian psychoanalysis. Taken together, these threads reveal Césaire’s vision of Caribbean art as a collaborative rather than conquest-oriented relation between the self and the environment. The essay ultimately argues that Césaire’s investigations of aesthetics, visuality, and psychoanalysis led her to an ecologically grounded theory of Caribbean subject formation articulated through her vision of a totalité-vie (life-totality) that is accessed through artistic production.
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Research Article| November 01 2022
Mimicking Seas and Malefic Mirrors in Suzanne Césaire: An Ecopoetic Theory of Caribbean Subjectivity
Natalie Catasús is a poet and scholar working at the intersections of Caribbean literature, visual culture, and memory studies. She is currently a 2022–23 fellow with the American Association of University Women; her dissertation examines Caribbean texts in which “drifting” figures practice makeshift creative methods for survival. Her research on the Cuban balseros and pedagogical work are featured in the Smithsonian Learning Lab and the National Humanities Center’s digital educational library.
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Small Axe (2022) 26 (3 (69)): 52–66.
Natalie Catasús; Mimicking Seas and Malefic Mirrors in Suzanne Césaire: An Ecopoetic Theory of Caribbean Subjectivity. Small Axe 1 November 2022; 26 (3 (69)): 52–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-10211850
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