CQ Volume 68, No. 3 (September 2022) Abstracts

Landscapes of Displacement

Rita Indiana’s Fluid Temporalities and the Queering of Bodies, Time, and Place

Paul Humphrey


This article examines the queer narratives in Dominican author and singer-songwriter Rita Indiana’s acclaimed La mucama de Omicunlé (2015, Tentacle [2018]) and Hecho en Saturno (2018, Made in Saturn [2020]). It reads these novels in conjunction with theories of queer time and space, heterocoloniality and nonnormative sexuality, and Afrodiasporic spiritualities in the Caribbean to explore Rita Indiana’s representation and subversion of hegemonic masculinity and heteronormativity in the Dominican Republic and the wider region. Drawing on work by Jack Halberstam, Christina Sharpe, Kara Keeling, and Paul B. Preciado, among others, it focuses on Rita Indiana’s use of fluid time and bodies, religious and spiritual practice, and the trope of Francisco Goya’s Saturno devorando a su hijo (Saturn devouring his son) to interrogate notions of gender and sexual identity, colonial temporality, failure, and queer futurity.

Reinventing the Self: Travel and Transformation in V.S. Naipaul’s Half a Life (2001) as a Fictional Autobiography

Nadia Butt


This article sets out to examine travel as a means of individual transformation in V.S. Naipaul’s novel Half a Life (2001), which is based on the journeys of Willie Somerset Chandran, undertaken in Europe and Africa. It is during these journeys that travel is treated not only as a manifestation of sentimental itineraries, but as a form of personal translation in a new cultural domain. The first part of the article defines the concept of travel in relation to self-reinvention whereas the second part applies this concept to my reading of the novel. My contention is that Naipaul’s fiction is written after the genre of a fictional autobiography in which travel or making a journey is a life-changing experience – an experience that compels a dramatic transformation of the self and identity, creating a cultural ambivalence for the narrator-protagonist who chronicles his social predicaments in a deeply personal narrative, which moves back and forth in time and space. I aim to underline that the novel as fictional autobiography unfolds a double quest, which is a quest for identity and a quest for belonging to a certain place. To this end, I seek to demonstrate that the first-person narrative unfolds the anguish of the travelling self, its alienations, rootlessness, and its metamorphosis in the wake of crossing national, cultural and linguistic borders.

Keywords: Travel and transformations; travel genre; travel as displacement and disenchantment; travel and self-discovery; borders and crossings; personal and cultural translations.  

Beyond the Boundaries of the Past: The Cartography of Displacement

Andrea O’Reilly Herrera


This essay examines the work of three prominent contemporary Cuban diasporic artists, who draw upon the natural landscape to recapture an idyllic and seemingly unchanging past and visually articulate the experience of rupture, loss and displacement.  Offering a peripatetic and itinerant aesthetic, their art captures the postcolonial concept that territorial dispossession from one’s natural and natal surroundings alters any normative understanding of nationhood, spatiality and borders.  Rooted in a trend of visual thinking that was first developed by the Cuban avantgarde, their artwork introduces a series of elements that reference a long-standing tradition of Cuban landscape art or paisajismo.  For these artists, the Cuban landscape and related pastoral subjects function metonymically as a powerful source of visual iconography through which to reclaim a lost and perhaps utopian national and cultural identity. 

Keywords: Cuba, diaspora, displacement, art, paisajismo

“Maybe Broken Is Just the Same as Being”: Brokenness and the Body in Kei Miller’s Short Stories

Tohru Nakamura


This paper explores the theme of brokenness in Kei Miller’s short stories and suggests that he describes the body as a locus of existential realisation of one’s racially and sexually fragmented selfhood. Beyond the bodily and historical-racial schemas theorised by Merleau-Ponty and Fanon, Miller submits a gender schema, “the broken body,” a unique way to examine the subtleties and complexities of Caribbean queer experiences and sexualities. Focussing on love as an existential and erotic occasion, the paper observes how the queer characters, threatened with “the fear of stones,” attempt to break the body so that “they could find themselves.”

Don’t worry; it’s a Koudmen”: Collaborative Networking among St Lucian Women in Academe 

R. Sandra Evans, Terencia Joseph, Christine H. Descartes, and Talia Esnard


Using social and community capital frameworks, this paper introduces the concept of Koudmen, a cooperative Caribbean tradition, to advance the potential for building culturally relevant forms of networking in academia. Using a collaborative autoethnographic approach to draw from our individual and shared experiences, we explored the challenges of and breakthroughs within our network of four female academics who share similar cultural histories and professional trajectories. We therefore demonstrate how our iterative practices around Koudmen offered meaningful forms of engagement and socio-cultural capital, through which we are able to navigate ongoing experiences within academe.

Keywords: Koudmen, collaborative, networking, mentoring, Caribbean 

Entrepreneurship and Local Culture: The Barbadian Rumshop – At the Cross Roads

Paul Pounder and Marsha Hinds Myrie


This paper seeks to examine the positioning and heritage of the rum shop at the cross road – a metaphorical one where the rum shop has to either be embraced and supported as a cultural necessity or relegated to a historical account of Barbados past. This paper uses the human and social capital theories to assist with this area of inquiry. The analysis documents the ways in which rum shop owners/entrepreneurs convert their human and social capital into successfully operating a business venture, which represents a cultural form. Notably, the findings cemented the value of trust-based relationships within the rum shop; and identified three unique shop owner characteristics, namely share-ability, active listening and caring. By tying the theories into the structure of the research, they help explain how shop owners use human capital to enhance the experience in the rum shop, and social capital to strengthen the ties.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, culture, rum, human capital, social capital, Caribbean