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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mangrove poetics : writing community in Hispanic Caribbean diasporas O'Regan, Karen Rebecca Denise


How do writers of Hispanic Caribbean diasporas write community in a transborder era? This dissertation focuses on contemporary literature of the Cuban and Dominican diasporas that challenges notions of belonging as tied to a specific place, nationality, culture, or social group. Examining works by Severo Sarduy, Achy Obejas, Loída Maritza Pérez, and Junot Díaz, this project argues that such writing redefines the parameters of coexistence to imagine solidarities that escape categorization. Rather than affirming identities limited to a Cuban, Dominican, or North American body politic, these texts invite the reader to contemplate commonalities that privilege negotiation over identity politics. As characters participate in intercontaminations of socio-cultural praxes, their connections form neither bounded nor undifferentiated collectivities but open rhizomes of relation with the world. They thus preclude any attempt to distinguish a singular race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, or sexuality as the basis of their solidarity. This discussion of writing that reconsiders the performance of community takes shape in the pairing of Édouard Glissant’s concept of Relation and Giorgio Agamben’s community theory. These thinkers’ notions of human interaction across boundaries provide a framework for understanding how fiction problematizes discourses of exclusion and inclusion with a poetics of inessential sociality. Contributing to the dialogue on belonging in the literature of Hispanic Caribbean diasporas, this study opens space for research into narratives of unrepresentable communities and their dissonant potentialities.

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