Raphael Dalleo presented from his research, discussing how U.S.-based writers during the 1920s like Eric Walrond and Claude McKay found themselves translating their Caribbean identities through images of voodoo circulated by the occupation of Haiti.
Ramsey writes: “The transnational turn in Haitian studies and the hemispheric turn in American studies come together in this groundbreaking interdisciplinary collection, which situates Haiti as a ‘crossroads’ of the Americas…Haiti and the Americas spotlights the multiple ways that scholars are working at the intersection of transnational Haitian and hemispheric American studies, as well as the rich insights that become possible at these geographic, temporal, and disciplinary crossroads. I came away from the collection with a more faceted understanding of these histories and texts, with new questions, and with the hope and expectation that Haiti and the Americas will generate many sequels.”
Beyond Windrush stands out as the first book to reexamine and redefine the writing of the crucial post-World War II era, often considered as the founding moment of West Indian writing through figures like V.S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Sam Selvon. The collection’s fourteen original essays make clear that in the 1950s there was already a wide spectrum of West Indian men and women–Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and white-creole–who were writing, publishing, and even painting. Many lived in the Caribbean and North America, rather than London. Moreover, these writers addressed subjects overlooked in the more conventionally conceived canon, including topics such as queer sexuality and the environment. This collection offers new readings of canonical authors (Lamming, Roger Mais, and Andrew Salkey); hitherto marginalized authors (Ismith Khan, Elma Napier, and John Hearne); and commonly ignored genres (memoir, short stories, and journalism).
Raphael Dalleo’s chapter in the volume is entitled “Marie Chauvet and the Writer’s Exile from the Postcolonial Public Sphere.” He looks at the parallels between the work of Haitian writer Marie Chauvet and Barbadian George Lamming, to show how despite their locations in different linguistic traditions and physical locations, they are engaging with some of the same issues of the writer’s relationship to social movements and the crisis of the literary public sphere.
Contributors include many of the major critics of West Indian literature, including Alison Donnell, Donette Francis, Evelyn O’Callaghan, Glyne Griffith, Kim Robinson-Walcott, Faith Smith, Michael Bucknor, Michelle Stephens, and Edward Baugh.
The most recent issue of the journal American Studies features a review of new work in Caribbean studies that examines Raphael Dalleo’s 2011 book Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere alongside Vanessa Valdes’s Oshun’s Daughters.
The review concludes that “Caribbean Literature in The Public Sphere represents a major contribution to pan-Caribbean literary history exploring the plantation era, the emergence of the anticolonial intellectual, and the late-twentieth-century emphasis on testimonial literature and popular culture,” while offering Valdes’s work as suggesting the ways that the approach in Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere can be supplemented by “a much-needed reassessment of the epistemological and ethical contributions of African-diasporic religion.”
I visited their class on the day that they were discussing the U.S. occupation of Haiti. I presented from my current research, focusing especially on C.L.R. James’s play Toussaint Louverture and history The Black Jacobins in relation to the occupation.