Migration and Diaspora in Contemporary Caribbean Literature

‘No Nation Now but the Imagination’

Authored by: David Chariandy

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745

10.4324/9780203830352.ch29

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Abstract

Contemporary Anglo-Caribbean literature exhibits an essential if also complicated relationship with the experiences and language of migration. Clearly, the historical events that have shaped the modern Caribbean, including the traumatic displacement of African peoples through transatlantic slavery, the desperate voyages of Asian peoples through indenture, and even the precarious and sometimes deeply alienating journeys of Europeans through the fraught enterprise of colonial settlement, have each, in very different ways, contributed to Caribbean literature’s preoccupation with ‘routes’ (as well as ‘roots’). Moreover, as many scholars have noted, a significant body of Caribbean literature, from the ‘boom’ years onward, has been written by migrants and their descendants living outside of the Caribbean itself, and either directly represents experiences of immigration and socio-cultural dislocation, or else ‘recollects’ the landscapes of the Caribbean from a geographical remove. The result has been a body of literature exhibiting an extraordinarily robust and heterogeneous archive of discourse on involuntary displacement, courageous journeying, the pining for home and the ambivalence of return, as titles such as The Pleasures of Exile, A Long Way from Home, The Enigma of Arrival, Middle Passages, Never Far From Nowhere, ‘The Schooner Flight’, Coolie Odyssey, Crossing the River, In Another Place Not Here and Travelling Mercies only begin to suggest. At same time, Caribbean literature as a relatively new field of academic study has inevitably found itself both influenced by, and significantly impacting upon, broader efforts in contemporary scholarship to map both the historical and newly heightened flows of peoples, capital, technology, and cultures across regional and national borders.

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