The Tropical-Urban Imagination: Ancestral Presences in Caribbean Literature

Hannah Lutchmansingh


This paper examines certain choices that Caribbean-born women make in forming and or rejecting connections to various foreign communities. Migration is examined as a stimulus to creative vision. By analyzing the literary evocations of Caribbean women’s struggle with issues of displacement, refusal and their desire to find a place of their own, this paper explores the psycho-social impacts of empire and exile on black female bodies. In the selected narratives, there is the possibility for liberation that is afforded through a spatialization of memory, which bears the potential to confront and exorcise buried hurts and anxieties. As such, specific focus is given to the correlation between material and spirit dimensions in Erna Brodber’s novel, Myal (1988) and Patricia Powell’s short-story, “Travelling” (2015). The inquiry demonstrates how a return to timeless and all-pervasive ancestral presences may lead to an awakening from spiritual paralysis of essentialist and material ideologies. Moreover, the project scrutinizes how a comingling of carnal and divine realms influences woman’s quality to forgive. This pursuit is achieved through a methodological approach of qualitative content analysis. Fittingly, it draws on mythic notions of time and collective memory, as espoused by Wilson Harris in The Womb of Space.


Caribbean; literature; spirits; haunting; diaspora; identity

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