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Content archived on 2024-06-18

"Caribbean Biopolitics of Literature. Shaping Life, History and Community through the Transformative Power of Literature"

Final Report Summary - CARIBIOLIT (Caribbean Biopolitics of Literature. Shaping Life, History and Community through the Transformative Power of Literature)

The overall objectives (SO) of the two-year programme are as follows:
SO1 is to connect French and Italian theoretical reflections on biopolitics with the mainly Anglophone field of postcolonial studies. This theoretical intersection will lead to innovative methodological criteria with which to read and analyse literature, specifically Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean literature. Other SOs were to establish new paradigms for Francophone Caribbean research by applying biopolitical concepts to the theoretical and literary production of major Francophone Caribbean writers; to establish new paradigms for Caribbean research by applying biopolitical concepts to theoretical and literary production; and to develop new alternative configurations in “affirmative biopolitics”, based on the previous theoretical an literary analysis. The goal is to identify the Caribbean specific contribution to the reflection on a biopolitical relationship between origins and history, life and rules, subalternity and language, in a postcolonial context, and to suggest directions for future research by demonstrating how these findings can be useful tools for the analysis of power structures in western democratic societies.
The 2-year project was split into four main tasks organised, together with the training and outreach activities, throughout the 24 months of the project in order to achieve the proposed objectives. During his Fellowship, Dr Corio has successfully addressed the SOs and Tasks outlined in the research proposal. He studied and analysed texts in three different languages (English, French and Italian) and produced articles, conference papers, reviews and podcasts. After this theoretical work, he applied his knowledge to the production of a monograph, 'Edouard Glissant: La Barque Ouverte'.

These themes reach a culmination in a special issue of the journal _International Journal of Francophone Studies_ on 'Race, Violence and Biopolitics' [forthcoming]. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, biopolitics, necropolitics, ethnopolitics, métissage, ethnoclass, pigmentocracy: the postcolonial vocabulary of race is multiple and can only be understood with due attention to the historical and contemporary relationships and tensions, both overt and concealed, which construct frameworks for the exercise of violence and power. An overriding interest in the physical body and how it is interpreted and represented within a given situation raises questions of individual identity, aesthetics and affiliation, which in turn have collective significance for the understanding of broader questions of ethics, nationality and governance. Indeed, the myriad intersections between race, violence and power are at the heart of postcolonial literature, politics and thought. If the colonial project is initially framed by a dichotomy of racial curiosity/fear brought about by the encounter with other ethnic groups, this quickly gives way to the violence of conquest and the development of power structures with which domination could be established, maintained and expanded. Long after decolonization, the legacies of colonialism endure in the structures, hierarchies and social orders which have arisen in the post-colonial era. In this special issue, as each article develops its own original perspective, a common methodological denominator begins to emerge: what is the function of colonial and postcolonial literary creation in relation to the violence exercised by the apparatuses of discipline and normalization of bodies and populations?

Through a series of thematically-linked articles, which consider African, American, Caribbean and European contexts, this volume critically analyses configurations of race, violence and power and their representations in colonial history and postcolonial theory, literature and culture. Drawing on recent critical interventions on biopolitics, genocide and ethnoclass hierarchies, by thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Roberto Esposito, Edouard Glissant, Achille Mbembe and Giorgio Agamben, these articles question, complicate and explore the legacies of conquest and demonstrate their urgency for contemporary society. Although many articles in this special issue are informed by an interest in explaining the potential of biopolitics, the aim is to offer a broader exegesis of how race and violence intersect in the cultural, social and political spheres. Several articles, including those by Charlotte Baker, Alessandro Corio, Louise Hardwick and Judith Misrahi-Barak, explicitly engage with biopolitics to investigate manifestations of race and violence, while others, by Dominic Thomas, Michael Wiedorn, and C. J. Bretillon, analyse other postcolonial aspects of race and violence, in contexts which include Creole culture in the Caribbean basin, immigration in Europe, and constructions of race in French rap music.

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