“Thinking with the Archipelago”: Diasporic Im/Mobilities in Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean Poetry

Mag. Barbara Gföllner

Supervisor: Univ.-Prof. Mag.a Dr.in Alexandra Ganser-Blumenau


This project sets out to examine contemporary anglophone and francophone Caribbean poetry from a comparative archipelagic perspective. Drawing on fundamental concepts by Caribbean theorists (such as Glissant’s "poetics of relation" and "archipelagic thinking", Brathwaite’s "tidalectics"), I seek to approach the selected lyrical works not from a continental perspective, which construes islands as fixed and immobile, but from the archipelago in order to emphasize connections and mobilities. Focusing on both anglophone and francophone poetry will further allow to emphasize the interconnectedness of archipelagic space. Caribbean poetry, in my understanding, is not only located within the Caribbean archipelago but also unfolds beyond its coasts to encompass diasporic writing located in North America and France. Thereby, I further aim to reconceptualize North American and Francophone literature and culture as archipelagic without any fixed continental center. The project will be guided by the following central questions: How do the authors engage in a poetics of im/mobility? How do they give poetic expression for their experiences of im/mobility (influenced by their gender, race, sexuality, religion, and class)? How do the (diasporic) poets use tropes of im/mobility to create a renewed sense of belonging? How does their poetry put forth an image of the Caribbean archipelago that counters restrictive, confining narratives of islandness?