Narratives of Return : The Contemporary Caribbean Woman Writer and the Quest for Home.

Thompson, Rachel Grace. 2015. Narratives of Return : The Contemporary Caribbean Woman Writer and the Quest for Home.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis investigates how diasporic Caribbean women writers use the vehicle of the novel to effect a ‘writing back’ to the Caribbean home through what I propose to consider as a specific sub-genre of Caribbean literature: ‘narratives of return’. I argue that novels which constitute ‘narratives of return’ reveal how diasporic identity continues to be informed by a particularised connection to the Caribbean homeland. Firstly, I propose the region’s literary representation within these narratives as the home of cultural memories which fully inform the hybridised nature of diasporic subjectivity. Secondly, I investigate the narrative of return’s depiction of the Caribbean as the site of historical, collective, and personal trauma which continues to influence notions of identification and belonging to the region for Caribbean people.
Whilst ‘return’ refers to the act of ‘writing back’ to the Caribbean by diasporic authors, I suggest that the ‘return’ represented within the narratives can also be literary, symbolic, metaphorical and physical. I investigate how the ‘return’ is negotiated within the text, exploring what ‘narratives of return’ reveal about Caribbean diasporic subjectivity and the relationship of protagonist and author with Caribbean history and the ancestral home. Theories of culture and identity acquisition will be crucial in addressing these questions, while my analysis explores how Caribbean diasporic identity is informed by an inherently traumatic and violent history of colonialism.
I argue towards the healing, therapeutic function of the discourse of the ‘narrative of return’ in selected novels by diasporic authors from the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone Caribbean. My approach seeks to unveil links between islands, recognising similarities in diasporic and Caribbean experience across racial, cultural and linguistic differences. I propose the Caribbean as a space which is representative of traumatic experience for Caribbean people across racial and cultural boundaries, investigating the palliative nature of the ‘narrative of return’ in effecting a process of confronting and working through past traumas.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Caribbean Literature, Narratives of Return, Diaspora, Caribbean Novel, Caribbean Women's Writing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature > Centre for Caribbean Studies


30 April 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Jun 2015 12:50

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 09:10


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