A reevaluation of Édouard Glissant that centers on the catastrophe of the Middle Passage and creates deep, original theories of trauma and Caribbeanness
While philosophy has undertaken the work of accounting for Europe’s traumatic history, the field has not shown the same attention to the catastrophe known as the Middle Passage. It is a history that requires its own ideas that emerge organically from the societies that experienced the Middle Passage and its consequences firsthand. Glissant and the Middle Passage offers a new, important approach to this neglected calamity by examining the thought of Édouard Glissant, particularly his development of Caribbeanness as a critical concept rooted in the experience of the slave trade and its aftermath in colonialism.
In dialogue with key theorists of catastrophe and trauma—including Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, George Lamming, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Derek Walcott, as well as key figures in Holocaust studies—Glissant and the Middle Passage hones a sharp sense of the specifically Caribbean varieties of loss, developing them into a transformative philosophical idea. Using the Plantation as a critical concept, John E. Drabinski creolizes notions of rhizome and nomad, examining what kinds of aesthetics grow from these roots and offering reconsiderations of what constitutes intellectual work and cultural production.
Glissant and the Middle Passage establishes Glissant’s proper place as a key theorist of ruin, catastrophe, abyss, and memory. Identifying his insistence on memories and histories tied to place as the crucial geography at the heart of his work, this book imparts an innovative new response to the specific historical experiences of the Middle Passage.
In Reimagining the Middle Passage: Black Resistance in Literature, Television, and Song, Tara T. Green turns to twentieth- and recent twenty-first-century representations of the Middle Passage created by African-descended artists and writers. Examining how these writers and performers revised and reimagined the Middle Passage in their work, Green argues that they recognized it as a historical and geographical site of trauma as well as a symbol for a place of understanding and change. Their work represents the legacy African captives left for resisting “social death” (the idea that Black life does not matter), but it also highlights strong resistance to that social death (the idea that it does matter).
Exploring the presence of water and its impact on African descendants,Reimagining the Middle Passageoffers fresh analyses of Alex Haley’sRootsand the television adaptations; the history of flooding in Black communities in literature such as Jesmyn Ward’sSalvage the Bonesand Paule Marshall’sPraisesong for the Widow, in blues songs, and in television shows such asTreme; and stories of resistance found in myths associated with Marie Laveau and flying Africans.
This bold, innovative book promises to radically alter our understanding of the Atlantic slave trade, and the depths of its horrors. Stephanie E. Smallwood offers a penetrating look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market.
Smallwood’s story is animated by deep research and gives us a startlingly graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. Ultimately, Saltwater Slavery details how African people were transformed into Atlantic commodities in the process. She begins her narrative on the shores of seventeenth-century Africa, tracing how the trade in human bodies came to define the life of the Gold Coast. Smallwood takes us into the ports and stone fortresses where African captives were held and prepared, and then through the Middle Passage itself. In extraordinary detail, we witness these men and women cramped in the holds of ships, gasping for air, and trying to make sense of an unfamiliar sea and an unimaginable destination. Arriving in America, we see how these new migrants enter the market for laboring bodies, and struggle to reconstruct their social identities in the New World.
Throughout, Smallwood examines how the people at the center of her story—merchant capitalists, sailors, and slaves—made sense of the bloody process in which they were joined. The result is both a remarkable transatlantic view of the culture of enslavement, and a painful, intimate vision of the bloody, daily business of the slave trade.
Most times left solely within the confine of plantation narratives, slavery was far from a land-based phenomenon. This book reveals for the first time how it took critical shape at sea. Expanding the gaze even more deeply, the book centers how the oceanic transport of human cargoes--infamously known as the Middle Passage--comprised a violently regulated process foundational to the institution of bondage.
Sowande' Mustakeem's groundbreaking study goes inside the Atlantic slave trade to explore the social conditions and human costs embedded in the world of maritime slavery. Mining ship logs, records and personal documents, Mustakeem teases out the social histories produced between those on traveling ships: slaves, captains, sailors, and surgeons. As she shows, crewmen manufactured captives through enforced dependency, relentless cycles of physical, psychological terror, and pain that led to the the making--and unmaking--of enslaved Africans held and transported onboard slave ships. Mustakeem relates how this process, and related power struggles, played out not just for adult men, but also for women, children, teens, infants, nursing mothers, the elderly, diseased, ailing, and dying. Mustakeem offers provocative new insights into how gender, health, age, illness, and medical treatment intersected with trauma and violence transformed human beings into the world's most commercially sought commodity for over four centuries.