Abyssal Shores: The Caribbean Coastline Untold Restricted; Files Only

Verstraet, Charly (Summer 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/z029p601c?locale=en


Abyssal Shores is an interdisciplinary work that draws upon ecocritical and spatial, decolonial and postcolonial, diaspora and transnational studies to investigate Caribbean literature and art. More specifically, this dissertation considers how Caribbean writers and artists from 1939 to the present reclaim agency over the landscape they were alienated from in neo/colonial discourses on the region. This dissertation analyzes the representations of the Caribbean shoreline from its global consumption as a tropical paradise to a place of historical and cultural formation. In the tourist discourse, the Caribbean is associated with the beach trope, which erases other narratives about the region’s landscape. The Caribbean environment has a depth that holds the memory of the region and its people, connecting history and geography through the landscape. If academic scholarship has noted the relationship between ecocritical and cultural studies in the Caribbean, the overwhelming area of investigation has focused on water. The shoreline, by contrast, has been largely ignored by research. My thesis attempts to remedy this gap, exploring how Caribbean cultural producers claim subjectivity and sovereignty in representing the shoreline. I argue that Caribbean coastal areas should be studied not only in their flat horizontality but also, and particularly, in their profound verticality. Abyssal shores proposes an in-depth examination of the shore to reflect how Caribbean writers and artists reinscribe an imaginary proper to the region. Chapter 1 highlights Patrick Chamoiseau’s L’empreinte à Crusoé(2013) and acknowledges the shore as asite of (dis)connection and (dis)empowerment, where colonial narratives must be told again. Chapter 2 examines the imagined Caribbean of global discourses in the works of Suzanne Césaire, Jamaica Kincaid, Edouard Glissant, and Edouard Duval-Carrié. Chapter 3 investigates how Aimé Césaire and Péan Stanley turn the beach from a site of diasporic trauma to a transcendental place.Abyssal Shores tackles the intricate balance between telling and untelling the Caribbean coastline, suggesting that literature and art dismantle a hegemonic perspective of the shore in order to transmit the continually growing layers of Caribbean cultural and historical representations. 

Table of Contents


Literature on the Shore: Tracing Patrick Chamoiseau's Robinson Crusoe

This Is Not the Caribbean! Global Representations of the Caribbean Shoreline

Between Memories and Dreams: Reading the Shore in Aimé Césaire’s and Stanley Péan’s Caribbean Diasporic Narratives

Epilogue: The Caribbean Shore in the World

Works Cited

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