cover of book

Immaterial Archives: An African Diaspora Poetics of Loss
by Jenny Sharpe
Northwestern University Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-8101-4157-5 | Cloth: 978-0-8101-4158-2 | eISBN: 978-0-8101-4159-9
Library of Congress Classification PR9210.5.S473 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 810.99729

In this innovative study, Jenny Sharpe moves beyond the idea of art and literature as an alternative archive to the historical records of slavery and its aftermath. Immaterial Archives explores instead the intangible phenomena of affects, spirits, and dreams that Caribbean artists and writers introduce into existing archives. Through an attention to the transformative powers of African diaspora cultures, Sharpe examines how the visual art of Frantz Zéphirin and Edouard Duval-Carrié, and literary writings of M. NourbeSe Philip, Erna Brodber, and Kamau Brathwaite rework the conventions of archival knowledge. Through these works, Immaterial Archives explores silence as a black female space, Afro-Creole sacred worlds as diasporic cartographies, and the imaginative conjoining of spirits with industrial technologies as disruptions of enlightened modernity. Organized around the categories of “Silence,” “The Invisible,” “Word Holes,” and “DreamStories,” which are derived from the creative works themselves, Immaterial Archives contends with our understanding of the archive as written record, visual image, sound recording, and digitized copy. This book is essential reading for scholars and students in black cultural studies, Caribbean studies, feminist studies, and postcolonial studies.

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