Alternative Worlds of Female Desire: Women Reimagining the Nation in Caribbean Fiction

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This project examines how the nation is reimagined through the lens of women who critique social and political inequities in their societies. I explore how literary artists provide feminist interventions in discourses on the nation by scripting women characters and women’s bodies as the medium for constructing the nation. I illustrate how these authors open up a dialogue about how to envision revolutionary womanhood anew-historically and linguistically-using the female body as a central axis of power.The creation of alternative worlds in the works of Caribbean women writers of the twentieth century is of particular thematic importance. In Julia Álvarez’s In the Name of Salomé, Marie-Vieux Chauvet’s Amour, Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber and Zoé Valdés’ La nada cotidiana, the homeland is depicted as shaped by male desire-national and individual. These authors create alternative worlds in their fictions to provide their female characters with avenues to escape, protest against and interrogate social and patriarchal repression. For these selected Caribbean female authors, language is crucial to the interrogation of the nature of the nation. In In the Name of Salomé, Julia Álvarez subverts masculinist connotations of the nation by reimagining a matria (motherland), using the language of motherhood to reconceptualize the nation. In Midnight Robber, Hopkinson creates a hybrid language, placing Standard English and Caribbean Creoles in dialogue with each other to create an alternative socio-normative reality where Creole languages and Standard English are equally valued. These authors illustrate how the divergent colonial, linguistic and cultural configurations of the Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean impact the reimagining of the nation. This study seeks to explore how the reimagining of the nation by the female characters in Amour, In the Name of Salomé, La nada cotidiana and Midnight Robber redefines notions of revolutionary womanhood. I will examine the symbiotic relationship between literature and revolutionary imagination in the works of Caribbean female authors. This project aims to illustrate how the feminist reimagining of the nation allows Caribbean female authors to utilize their fictional narrative spaces to inscribe transgressive narratives in an attempt to define real-life sites of resistance for social and political transformation.