Fictional writing has an important mnemonic function for the Afro-Caribbean community. It facilitates an encounter between contemporary societies and their historical origins. The representation of diasoric trauma in the novels of Fred D'Aguiar, John Hearne, and Caryl Phillips challenges territorial understandings of nationality and raises awareness of the eurocentric basis of Western historiography. Slavery is a recurring motif of the nine novels analysed in this study. They narrate the fates of silenced victims who all share the traumatic experience of racial violence even if otherwise separated through time, space, gender and age. These charismatic fictional characters facilitate an empathic access to the history of slavery that goes beyond the anonymity of traditional historical sources. Their most private and intimate sorrows make the traumatic conditions of slavery appear much less remote and reveal their suffering. The euphemistic and distorting selection of the events that has been passed down by the dominant culture is thus countered by the dominant culture is thus countered by a relentless display of historical violent. These literary images establish an important symbolic repertoire and introduce power founding myths of the diaspora.
About the Author
Fatim Boutros is an independent scholar focusing on diaspora studies, trauma studies, and visual cultures. After various positions as lecturer at the Universities of Erlangen and Bamberg, he became a research fellow of a Research Training Group funded by the German Research Foundation. His current postdoctoral project on jazz photography in the 1930s and 40s was initiated during a John W. Kluge Center Fellowship at the Library of Congress which was funded by the Bavarian American Academy.
Table of Contents
1 The Lost Roots: Imagined African Homelands
2 The Foundational Dislocation: The Middle Passage
3 Positioning Self and Other: Cultural Interaction in Slave Societies
4 Aspects of Continuity: Post-Abolition and Postcolonial Interaction
5 Bridges to the Past: The Influence of Slavery on the Contemporary Diaspora