Caribbean Genesis: Jamaica Kincaid and the Writing of New by Jana Evans Braziel

By Jana Evans Braziel

Philosophical exploration of Jamaica Kincaid’s whole literary oeuvre.

By exploring the breadth of Jamaica Kincaid’s writings, this e-book finds her work’s transmutations of style, in particular these of autobiography, biography, and heritage in relation to the forces of construction and destruction within the Caribbean. Jana Evans Braziel examines Kincaid’s preoccupation with family tree, genesis, and genocide within the Caribbean; her diversifications of biblical texts for her literary oeuvre; and her authorial deployments of the diabolic as frames for either rethinking the barriers of style and changing notions of subjectivity, objectivity, self, and different.

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Extra resources for Caribbean Genesis: Jamaica Kincaid and the Writing of New Worlds

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Pour qu’il y ait morale, il faut que disparaisse de la conscience le noir, l’obscur, le nègre. Donc, un nègre à tout instant combat son image” (“Moral consciousness implies a kind of scission, a fracture of consciousness into a bright part and an opposing black part. In order to achieve morality, it is essential that the black, the dark, the Negro vanish from consciousness. Hence a Negro is forever in combat with his own image”) (194; emphasis mine). This construct is one dialectically and institutionally imposed on the “black man”—a force that negates his own being, a force that is epidermalized through the diasparities of power inherent 30 CARIBBEAN GENESIS in colonialist and racially hierarchized systems of hegemony and dominance.

Kincaid’s theorizations and representations of blackness—like Levinas’ Temps et l’Autre (Time and the Other) (1947), and like Fanon’s Peau Noire, Masques Blancs (Black Skin, White Masks) (1952)—are decisively philosophical and political. While I secondarily discuss Kincaid’s philosophical encounters with Heidegger and Levinas in this chapter, the intellectual engagement with Fanon remains primary. Where Fanon’s “The Fact of Blackness” critiques the paralyzing gaze of whiteness for blackness, Kincaid’s “Blackness” eludes such paralysis and displaces the fixed sociopolitical definitions of blackness and black identities.

I was told to stay within bounds, to go back where I belonged” (114–15). Fanon’s essay incorporates many voices—those dominant, those subterfuge—and it is a manifest attempt to break down barriers, boundaries, and genres: an attempt to be and to talk back. “Genres are not to be mixed. I will not mix genres. I repeat: genres are not to be mixed. ” Noting the fundamental and constitutional divisiveness of genres, Derrida further notes that genres as genres are defined by difference: As soon as the word “genre” is sounded, as soon as it is heard, as soon as one attempts to conceive it, a limit is drawn.

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