The Ship, the Plantation, and the Polis: Reading Gilroy and Glissant as Moral Philosophy

The Ship, the Plantation, and the Polis: Reading Gilroy and Glissant as Moral Philosophy Guillermina De Ferrari Theories of the Caribbean do not just account for a given history--that is the historian's task--but, rather, aim to explain the philosophical stakes of an odd social experiment whose ramifications were and still remain largely unforeseeable. Some of the most productive of these theories have benefited from the iconic power of a particularly successful metaphor. This is no doubt the case with Antonio Benítez Rojo's "the repeating island" and José Luis González's "el país de cuatro pisos"--to name just two metaphors capable of painting in simple strokes concepts that are sophisticated and eye opening. However, while the efficiency of the metaphor sometimes overshadows the complexity of the concept, occasionally, the richness of the theory eclipses part of the suggestive power of the metaphor. In this article I explore two concept metaphors, "the ship" and "the plantation," which suggest lines of inquiry that either supplement or advance the explicit preoccupations of the theories they illustrate. In The Black Atlantic (1993), Paul Gilroy uses the ship--described as "a living, micro-cultural, micro-political system in motion"--to symbolize the slave trade. According to Gilroy, the ship is a chronotope (Bakhtin's term) that not only grounds Caribbean culture in a specific http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Studies Penn State University Press

The Ship, the Plantation, and the Polis: Reading Gilroy and Glissant as Moral Philosophy

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Penn State University Press
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Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University.
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1528-4212
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Abstract

Guillermina De Ferrari Theories of the Caribbean do not just account for a given history--that is the historian's task--but, rather, aim to explain the philosophical stakes of an odd social experiment whose ramifications were and still remain largely unforeseeable. Some of the most productive of these theories have benefited from the iconic power of a particularly successful metaphor. This is no doubt the case with Antonio Benítez Rojo's "the repeating island" and José Luis González's "el país de cuatro pisos"--to name just two metaphors capable of painting in simple strokes concepts that are sophisticated and eye opening. However, while the efficiency of the metaphor sometimes overshadows the complexity of the concept, occasionally, the richness of the theory eclipses part of the suggestive power of the metaphor. In this article I explore two concept metaphors, "the ship" and "the plantation," which suggest lines of inquiry that either supplement or advance the explicit preoccupations of the theories they illustrate. In The Black Atlantic (1993), Paul Gilroy uses the ship--described as "a living, micro-cultural, micro-political system in motion"--to symbolize the slave trade. According to Gilroy, the ship is a chronotope (Bakhtin's term) that not only grounds Caribbean culture in a specific

Journal

Comparative Literature StudiesPenn State University Press

Published: May 10, 2012

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