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Most recently, Vietnamese fishermen, refugees of a war in their country, resettled on the Gulf Coast because that geography most closely resembles their homeland. Demographic dislocations reshape the land captured from Native peoples, which was shaped by plantation economies and are now examples of contemporary exploitative relations. The US South is being remade and reckoning with its place in the global south. As Trefzer, Jackson, Mckee, and Dellinger articulate it:. These writers highlight the symbolic, historical, and condition-based nature of the global south by paying attention to spaces of extreme inequality in wealthy areas.

First, the local and the global are entangled and collide with increasing frequency. Second, the global in the local reveal historical, economic, and political layers. Third, like the Souths that Ward illuminates, the Caribbean is a similarly layered space.

PDF Bodies and Bones: Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging (New World Studies)

The extreme economic divide between rich and poor, native and tourist make known entrenched power relations. In addition to colonial legacies, recent environmental disasters in Barbuda, St. These landscapes devastated by recent hurricanes look like isles of the dead—emptied of people, flora, and fauna. Williams, Ward, and almost all the contributors to this volume speak in one way or another about how the dead animate the present—remembering them, telling their stories, and coming to terms with their legacies. The recovery of the dead and their legacies might be better understood as a symbolic and temporary reinstatement of a type of knowledge and power that could not exist in the past.

Such recovery while essential is a thorny issue because reclamation of home speaks to layered longings that run the gamut from misremembering to romanticizing home. Our cover image reflects the complexity located in longing. Taken from Michael C. His pictures of my homeland struck me with waves of longing. Like many in the series, this image is unpeopled, but the jhandi—or flags on bamboo poles—and the boat indicate human, specifically Hindu presence.

I felt insignificant and humbled by the vastness of the waters, trees, and sky around me, but I also felt imperiled in the tiny skiff. This image transports me to the memories that trouble me from my childhood. I recently shared this recollection with my parents. This experience is vivid in my mind. We went back and forth and I believe out of pity, they tried to find a space where gathering tamarind could have happened.

No, it could not happen there. They traversed the landscape of their minds to support a memory I was so certain of, to no avail. A memory I held dear was a fiction or could not be remembered as fact. This was a lesson. Had I read about a girl collecting tamarind in a book? The stories we tell ourselves, the stories we invent to understand our relationship to home reveal what we long for and what we are haunted by. What does the tamarind tree tell me? Primarily, it indicates that my relationship with Guyana is a distant and nostalgic one. Spatial and temporal distance from my home saddens me because I no longer know the codes—from comportment to cuisine—of belonging there.

I can no longer define home in those terms—food, behavior, or even memories. Yet my invented memories push me to understand the stark bitter and beautiful realities of the place. The precarious nature of home is visible around the world. Global insecurity manifests in environmental catastrophe and people fleeing war and violence from Kenya to Syria to St. Martin and Puerto Rico. Terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Australia, France, Britain and the United States exacerbate the feeling that violence is inescapable. Furthermore, exorbitant housing costs, curtailed health, education, and voting rights in the United States imperil home for people in this country.

The combination of white supremacy, misogyny, populism, celebrity cults, and a willful ignorance of global interconnectivities has turned Western democracies increasingly right-wing and authoritarian, with kakistocracies making visible the corruption and mismanagement that have been popularly identified as the condition of the developing world.

Embedded in these turns is an increasingly aggressive and nationalist masculinity distorting politics around the world.

The ascension of such openly crooked and misogynistic regimes is not new, but these unholy alliances imperil home for most people on this planet. Precarity is gendered, specifically feminized. Historically, laws and customs curtailed the participation of female-identified people in their nations. Women disproportionally feel the effects of poverty that make home a challenge when combined with other issues that impact home—from failing economies, political instability, violence, lack of healthcare and education.

Women artists and activists, who came to TOSH to discuss the gendered nature of home, shared that women and children were the people most impacted by the policies of governments and aid agencies. TOSH convened more than 20 participants from over 10 countries to share their personal, professional, and political stories of making home.


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In this volume, I assemble a sample of that diversity, and the writers here provide a rich assortment of perspectives, primarily about the Anglophone Caribbean, where narratives of home are told through personal reflection and scholarly engagement. This special issue consists of seven essays that speak of degrees of home and haunting, ranging from autobiographical, reflective pieces to traditional scholarly articles examining place, returning home, sexuality, global care chains, and specters of belonging.

Trouillot is preoccupied by history and the policies generated in its wake. To this end, she uses the creative arts to confront historical dehumanization in her writing. Writing is fundamental to how Trouillot makes sense of the world.

In addition to the ritual remembering that the tree invokes, Trouillot delves into many critical topics from the often white, but certainly Western humanitarian impulse, to motherhood, and to being without an official identity because one has no documents. Marie-Ange pieces together fragments of the traumatized and haunted—the diaries and memories of her mother along with her own remembrances.

Part of the answer seems to be in constructing archives that blend official and personal intergenerational stories. Ellen makes the reliquary figures with dirt from the family cemetery and with medicinal twigs and herbs from her work as a healer. She analyzes the multiple functions that the dolls embody, from figurative stereotypes deployed to protect black children in the Jim Crow south to spirit workers.

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Bodies and Bones | The University of Virginia Press

Caring for the dolls becomes a ritual act that connects the generations. Williams herself is a guardian of these ancestral containers whose power to protect extends beyond history and geography. From two different locales and points of reference, graves become significant as a link to geography, architecture, and demography. Many African diasporic spiritual practices, particularly those with spirit possession, accept same-gender-loving relationships to varying degrees. The writer asks us to rethink how we understand and imagine queer Caribbean experiences of belonging.

Wallace shares the brutal, but true story of the Gully Queen, a transgender Caribbean woman beaten and killed, when the gender assigned to her at birth is revealed.

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She is homeless. Negotiation in the Caribbean is not only part of the discourse on gender and identity but continues to be part of regional engagement with the past. Haunting becomes a constituent part of palimpsest and highlights the historical dimension of Caribbean belonging in two distinct but overlapping geographies—Jamaica and Guadeloupe. Semaj-Hall argues that circular migrations encapsulate her dub identity. Her attempts to reconcile private actions with historical forces reveal the confrontations and implications of the many registers of home.

This ongoing process is one amplified through sharing stories.

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Sharing stories reminds us of other stories and creates a chain or web that reveals the ways we are connected and, just as often, the ways in which we differ. Home is a product of collision. Some of these opposing interactions are expected and benevolent, but many are unexpected and violent. The essays in the volume do not collide with each other as much as they overlap, and highlight the impact of identity, history, and geography.


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In bringing these subjects to our attention, these articles ask us to go intentionally into the breach to extend ourselves, to take an empathic journey to interrogate home and homing, which can help us pivot from the quest to find family to the search for our people in the broadest terms of belonging. While the views, findings, and recommendations expressed during the TOSH programs, and in this subsequent volume, are not those of the NEH, this grant allowed us to support programs such as the African Diaspora Teachers Fellowship Program, which trains public school teachers to incorporate the history, politics, and culture of Africa and its diaspora into their classrooms.

Williams : Williams Young quoted in Hylton : Kaye : Ward Trefzer et al. Once there, they were subjected to a brutal process of brainwashing. Taken down the slave route that I followed, they were made to walk around a supposedly magical tree called the Tree of Forgetfulness.