Weaving Artistic Archipelagos in Afro Diasporic Networks

Sociocriticism 36 (1-2) (2022)
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Through the prism of archipelicity, the artistic production of the Afro-American Diaspora reveals its diffractive potential: at once close to and far from its original origins, it unfolds in the in-between of a double consciousness. In his seminal essay, Paul Gilroy calls for the overcoming of binary oppositions in order to better apprehend the complexity of Afro-diasporic intellectual culture, which he sees as specifically transnational (Gilroy, 1993). As inclusive as this theoretical framework may seem, it is challenged by the inherent transcoloniality of the artistic dynamics animating the region of the Black Island Americas. To this day, avatars of the colonial model persist in the Lesser and Greater Antilles and in the majority of the coastal nations of the Caribbean basin. To a certain extent, these schemes continue to influence the aesthetic-political choices of the region’s visual artists and performers, while providing them with symbolic codes that can be interpreted as signs of belonging to the Afro-Trans American diaspora. It is therefore a challenge to claim any form of diasporic citizenship in such a shifting and uncertain configuration. What is thought to be relevant from an individual or community perspective may prove to be institutionally subversive. In the syncretic tradition of Cuba and Brazil, the same code can be given different semiotic meanings depending on the political and pragmatic context. This article therefore takes an ethno-critical look at the contribution of such practices to the broader framework of archipelagic networks and map zones of Afro-diasporic connectivity in a trans-American context.

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Frédéric Lefrançois
Université Des Antilles


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