`Shuttles in the Rocking Loom': Mapping the Black Diaspora in African American and Caribbean Fiction

`Shuttles in the Rocking Loom': Mapping the Black Diaspora in African American and Caribbean Fiction explores the symbolic geographies found within modern black fiction and identifies a significant set of relations between these geographies and communal affiliations, identity politics, and understandings of a diasporic past. Employing a pliant sense of the term `mapping', it offers analysis of diverse sites, landscapes, journeys, and orientations that address diasporan historical experience and often expose oppressive spatial orders or revise colonial representations. A comparative approach encompasses Anglo- and Francophone novels emergent from North America, the Caribbean, and Europe and spanning the twentieth century. The study draws on postcolonial theories of the transnational, cross-cultural formations initiated by racial slavery, while shaping its own geographical focus. In particular, spatialised aspects within the work of Edouard Glissant and Paul Gilroy provide departure points for new investigation into the prominence of space and place in a powerful black diaspora imaginary. Not only are resistant counter geographies charted but attention to narrative poetics also reveals distinctive mappings of interrelation between the temporal and spatial in diasporic fiction. Chapters examine the meanings of the US North and South; Caribbean definitions of both the plantation and anti-plantation locations; engagements with the Atlantic Middle Passage and other oceanic trajectories; and plotting of stratifications, transformative interactions, and the search for belonging in the diasporic city. Converging geographical visions in African American and Caribbean fiction are found to articulate dislocation and traversal but also connection and emplacement.