Gathering Places: Place as Archive in Irish, Indian, and Caribbean Literature Restricted; Files Only

Early, Shanna (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8336h195z?locale=en
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Abstract

“Places gather,” observes philosopher Edward S Casey. He continues, “Minimally, places gather things in their midst—where ‘things’ connote various animate and inanimate entities. Places also gather experiences and histories, even languages and thoughts.” The gathering tendency, Derrida explains, is an essential characteristic of the archive: “The archontic principle of the archive is also a principle of consignation, that is, of gathering together.” Scientists, historians, and literary scholars such as Jeffrey Jerome Cohen have begun to think of how places operate as organic archives of human and natural history. “Gathering Places: Place as Archive in Irish, Indian and Caribbean Literature” argues that some authors from Ireland, India, and the Caribbean represent place as a counter-archive to the institutional archive, making space for the often-elided histories of marginalized people and situating human history within the broader context of natural history. It explores how literature imagines places that gather personal stories and alternate histories, potentially challenging formal archives and the systems of power in which they are enmeshed. This dissertation works across genres and national borders, focusing on the work of Sebastian Barry, Seamus Heaney, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Jamaica Kincaid, and Derek Walcott. The texts I study represent natural spaces and entities that partner with humans to build knowledge and store memory. I argue that these authors imagine and give voice to possible histories, searching outside the limits of institutional archives for other sites of authorization, which come through places that gather the histories they posit in their texts. I contend that these literary engagements with place-archives gesture toward an understanding of the past that extends beyond anthropocentric perceptions of history, promoting a more ecologically ethical view of the world.

Table of Contents

Introduction

An Archive to Shelter In………………….……………………………………………………….1

 

Chapter One

“An Archive of Silences”: Archives, Asylums, and Remembering Landscapes in The Secret Scripture……………………………………………………………………..………24

 

Chapter Two

Bottomless: Ireland’s Archiving Bogs……………..…………..…………………..…………….59

 

Chapter Three

Shaping Water: Archiving Rivers in The God of Small Things and The Hungry Tide……………………………………………………………………………..……………102

 

Chapter Four

Paradise and Palimpsest: Tourism and History in Kincaid’s and Walcott’s Island Archives……………………………………….……140

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