Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture

, Introduced and co-edited with Renée Gosson and George Handley
Elizabeth DeLoughrey
PhD, 1999
University of Virginia Press, 2013

Perhaps there is no other region in the world that has been more radically altered in terms of human and botanic migration, transplantation, and settlement than the Caribbean. Theorists such as Edouard Glissant argue that the dialectic between Caribbean "nature" and "culture," engendered by this unique and troubled history, has not heretofore been brought into productive relation. Caribbean Literature and the Environment redresses this omission by gathering together eighteen essays that consider the relationship between human and natural history. The result is the first volume to examine the literatures of the Caribbean from an ecocritical perspective in all language areas of the region.

In its exploration of the relationship between nature and culture, this collection focuses on four overlapping themes: how Caribbean texts inscribe the environmental impact of colonial and plantation economies; how colonial myths of edenic and natural origins are revisioned; what the connections are between histories of biotic and cultural creolization; and how a Caribbean aesthetics might usefully articulate a means to preserve sustainability in the context of tourism and globalization. By creating a dialogue between the growing field of ecological literary studies, which has primarily been concerned with white settler narratives, and Caribbean cultural production, especially the region’s negotiation of complex racial and ethnic legacies, these essays explore the ways in which the history of transplantation and settlement has provided unique challenges and opportunities for establishing a sense of place and an environmental ethic in the Caribbean.

The volume includes an extensive introduction by the editors and essays by Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Derek Walcott, Wilson Harris, Cyril Dabydeen, Helen Tiffen, Hena Maes-Jelinek, and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, among others, as well as interviews with Walcott and Raphaël Confiant. It will appeal to all those interested in Caribbean, literary, and ecocritical studies.