Tropical Gothic: arts, humanities and social sciences

Anita Lundberg, Katarzyna Ancuta, Agnieszka Stasiewicz-Bieńkowska


The Gothic is undergoing a pronounced resurgence in academic and popular cultures. Propelled by fears associated with massive social transformations produced by globalisation, the neoliberal order and environmental uncertainty – tropes of the Gothic resonate. The gothic allows us to delve into the unknown, the liminal, the unseen; into hidden histories and feelings. It calls up unspoken truths and secret desires.

In the tropics, the gothic manifests in specific ways according to spaces, places, cultures and their encounters. Within the fraught geographies and histories of colonisation and aggression that have been especially acute across the tropical regions of the world, the tropical gothic engages with orientalism and postcolonialism. The tropics, as the region of the greatest biodiversity in the world, is under enormous stress, hence tropical gothic also engages with gothic ecocriticism, senses of space, landscape and place. Globalisation and neoliberalism likewise impact the tropics, and the gothic imagery of these ‘vampiric’ capitalist forces – which impinge upon the livelihoods, traditions and the very survival of peoples of the tropics – is explored through urban gothic, popular culture, posthumanism and queer theory.

As the papers in this special issue demonstrate, a gothic sensibility enables humans to respond to the seemingly dark, nebulous forces that threaten existence. These papers engage with specific instances of Tropical Gothic in West Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Southeast Asia, northern Australia, and the American Deep South.

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