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Humanities 2015, 4(4), 834-860; doi:10.3390/h4040834

Postcolonial Trauma Theory in the Contact Zone: The Strategic Representation of Grief in Edwidge Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light

Departamento de Filología Inglesa y Alemana, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, University of Zaragoza, Calle Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Academic Editor: Sonya Andermahr
Received: 4 September 2015 / Revised: 10 November 2015 / Accepted: 13 November 2015 / Published: 20 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Trauma Studies: Trauma and Postcolonialism)
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Abstract

This article starts by engaging in a dialogue with the most relevant postcolonial emendations to trauma theory, addressed to both its aporetic and its therapeutic trends, and it goes on to reflect on the state of the decolonizing trauma theory project, critically examining the motivations behind it as well as some of the problems it still encounters, like the risk of objectification and revictimization of postcolonial peoples, the blurring of their trauma particularities, and the appropriation of their experience. Then, it proposes an alternative understanding of postcolonial trauma theory as a contact zone where trauma criticism and the postcolony are interrelated and mutually transformed, and where unequal power relations are also attended to. Acknowledging the postcolony as a site of theory production rather than the object of external definition, it proceeds to analyze Edwidge Danticat’s short story cycle Claire of the Sea Light: its strategic representation of grief—which she achieves through the short story cycle structure and overall in-betweenness and ambivalence in symbols and characterization—puts Haitians on the critical map of trauma, fighting invisibility and oblivion, but it simultaneously resists an appropriation of Haitian experience by rejecting any monolithic view on Haiti and refusing to fit into a predetermined template. View Full-Text
Keywords: trauma theory; postcolonial trauma theory; (neo)colonialism; contact zone; grief; Edwidge Danticat; Haitian American literature trauma theory; postcolonial trauma theory; (neo)colonialism; contact zone; grief; Edwidge Danticat; Haitian American literature
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Martínez-Falquina, S. Postcolonial Trauma Theory in the Contact Zone: The Strategic Representation of Grief in Edwidge Danticat’s Claire of the Sea Light. Humanities 2015, 4, 834-860.

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