Mourning Balliceaux: towards a biography of a Caribbean island of death, grief and memory

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Abstract

This contribution frames the biography of a small Caribbean island (Balliceaux, St Vincent and the Grenadines) and illustrates how it holds up a mirror to the experiences of the Garifuna (‘Black Carib’) indigenous peoples who live on the neighbouring island of St Vincent, and in diasporic communities through the Americas. In the late eighteenth century this island was the scene of a genocide orchestrated by the British colonial authorities on the Garifuna, and as such it has become an important place of memory. We start by taking a broadly phenomenological approach to the analysis of island-scape, emphasizing its qualities as an embodied as well as physical entity, and then build upon the notion of embodiment using perspectives drawn from psychological studies of grief and grieving through the lens of grief and death studies. We argue that it is only through deploying such a phenomenological perspective to the study of a single Caribbean island that we can discern the metaphors employed by the Garifuna in making sense of this island of death, grief and memory. By drawing on their own understandings of Balliceaux as a base for our theorizations, we offer a novel approach and decolonized way to think about the character of a Caribbean island.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIsland Studies Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020

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