Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Ex-isle Reinvention: Postcolonial Trauma and Recovery in Contemporary Island Literature
by Zackheos, Marilena, Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2011, 254; 3468218
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates narrative representations of traumatic recovery in contemporary poetry and prose by islanders from Cyprus, Puerto Rico, and Sri Lanka. These three islands are all to a great extent English-speaking, largely under-represented, and have suffered national trauma from repeated invasions and colonizations. This legacy has produced ethnically mixed and often clashing populations as well as a discordant nationhood. Cyprus is currently a divided island with separated Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities, Puerto Rico has an ambiguous national status as an unincorporated territory of the US, and Sri Lanka has been plagued by violent ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamil. The islands' political struggles have ex-isled islanders from and within the island home. This ex-isle has taken the form of psychological as well as physical displacement (as factors such as inter-communal hostility and discrimination, physical separation of island communities, and large-scale migration attest). Although Cyprus, Puerto Rico, and Sri Lanka have all, in their histories, been colonized by English-speaking cultures, and have been incorporated in an English-speaking world, they have most often been misrepresented or discounted in English literature and the global public sphere. Nonetheless, many island texts show a recuperative sensibility in negotiating this neglect and ex-isle. Exploring a range of islanders' texts from writers like Taner Baybars, Luz María Umpierre-Herrera, and Shyam Selvadurai, this dissertation uncovers how islanders themselves challenge their specific historical oppressions – their touristic construction as an idealized island space, their traumatic history of violent invasions, and conflicted nationalist belonging. This work traces islanders' resistance to debilitating ideologies that pigeonhole island subjectivity at the expense of their recovery from trauma. Drawing on work from postcolonial, trauma, queer, and diasporic studies, this dissertation examines islanders' recuperative narratives as ways of negotiating debilitating attachments to space, history, and the nation; particularly in terms of revising the conception of an idealized island space, the tendency to monumentalize traumatic history, and the adherence to nationalist scripts which work to separate island communities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Alcorn, Marshall W., Jr.
School: The George Washington University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Modern literature, Asian literature, Latin American literature, Caribbean literature, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Baybars, Taner, Cyprus, Island literature, Islands, Puerto Rico, Recovery, Selvadurai, Shyam, Sri Lanka, Trauma, Umpierre-Herrera, Luz Maria
Publication Number: 3468218
ISBN: 9781124820583
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