Dangerous Creole Liaisons

Jacqueline Couti

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ISBN: 9781781384572

Publication: June 1, 2016

Dangerous Creole Liaisons explores a French Caribbean context to broaden discussions of sexuality, nation building, and colonialism in the Americas. Couti examines how white Creoles perceived their contributions to French nationalism through the course of the nineteenth century as they portrayed sexualized female bodies and sexual and racial difference to advance their political ideologies. Questioning their exhilarating exoticism and titillating eroticism underscores the ambiguous celebration of the Creole woman as both seductress and an object of lust. She embodies the Caribbean as a space of desire and a political site of contest that reflects colonial, slave and post-slave societies. The under-researched white Creole writers and non-Caribbean authors (such as Lafcadio Hearn) who traveled to and wrote about these islands offer an intriguing gendering and sexualization of colonial and nationalist discourses. Their use of the floating motif of the female body as the nation exposes a cultural cross-pollination, an intense dialogue of political identity between continental France and her Caribbean colonies. Couti suggests that this cross-pollination still persists. Eventually, representations of Creole women’s bodies (white and black) bring two competing conceptions of nationalism into play: a local, bounded, French nationalism against a transatlantic and more fluid nationalism that included the Antilles in a “greater France.”

Jacqueline Couti is Associate Professor, French and Francophone Studies at the University of Kentucky.

Introduction Chercher la femme: Traces of an Ever-Present Absence 1. The (White) Female Creole Body: Bearer of Culture and Cultural Signifier 2. Falling from Grace: Creole Gothic, Flawed Femininity, and The Collapse of Civilization Coda I (Re)writing History: Revival of the Declining Creole Nation and Transatlantic Ties 3. Sexualizing and Darkening Black Female Bodies: Whose Imagined Community? 4. Colonial Democracy and Fin de Siècle Martinique: The Third Republic and White Creole Dissent Coda II Heritage and Legacies Notes Glossary Bibliography Index

This is an ambitious, original, well informed and richly documented study of a neglected corpus. One of the real strengths of the book is the weaving together of writings by novelists, journalists, historians and travellers, Creoles and non-Creoles alike, to produce an analysis that sheds new light on an important period of Martinican history.

Maeve Mccusker, Queen's University, Belfast  

Jacqueline Couti's important book Dangerous Creole Liaisons demonstrates that while a politically turbulent nineteenth-century France was defining itself, in turns, as an empire, a monarchy, and a republic, a corpus of writers in Martinique, mainly white and heretofore little-known, was producing texts that both dialogued with and opposed the prevailing French discourses of nationhood. In doing so, her study counters the received notion that Aimé Césaire (followed by Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Raphaël Confiant) was the inaugurator of a distinctively Martinican literature, and that his Martinican predecessors were mere imitators, in form and content, of French prose and verse. Couti writes that belying the "fallacy of a monolithic French colonial discourse," the writers in question not only divorced themselves from mere imitation, they also introduced distinctive notions of gendered race relations and transatlantic nationalisms that "still haunt[] the French Caribbean imaginary" and influence Martinican identity construction today.

Paula Sato, Kent University  

Format: Ebook

Copyright: © 2016

ISBN: 9781781384572

Publication: June 1, 2016

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