Essay on Suzanne Césaire

MIMICKING SEAS, MALEFIC MIRRORS IN SUZANNE CÉSAIRE: AN ECOPOETIC THEORY OF CARIBBEAN SUBJECTIVITY

Publication forthcoming in Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, issue 69, November 2022.

While scholarship on Suzanne Césaire has illuminated the critical role of ecopoetics in her writing, the strong psychoanalytic resonances that underpin her theory of Caribbean aesthetics and identity remain underexplored. I suggest that these resonances must be read alongside her reflections on aesthetics—specifically the relationship between art and nature—in order to elucidate a fuller picture of Césaire’s ecopoetic theory of Caribbean subject formation. This essay examines her writing on art and civilization within the context of her explicit engagement with surrealism and her more camouflaged engagement with Freudian psychoanalysis. Taken together, these threads reveal Césaire’s vision of Caribbean art as a collaborative rather than conquest-oriented relation between the self and the environment. I ultimately argue that her investigations of aesthetics, visuality, and psychoanalysis lead her to an ecologically grounded theory of Caribbean subject formation articulated through her vision of a totalité-vie (life-totality) that is accessed through artistic production.

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