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The Poetics of Ethnography in Martinican Narratives

Exploring the Self and the Environment
Christina Kullberg

BUY Cloth · 232 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813935126 · $65.00 · Nov 2013
BUY Paper · 232 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813935133 · $27.50 · Nov 2013
BUY Ebook · 232 pp. · ISBN 9780813935140 · $27.50 · Nov 2013

Drawing on narratives from Martinique by Aimé Césaire, Édouard Glissant, Ina Césaire, and Patrick Chamoiseau, among others, Christina Kullberg shows how these writers turn to ethnography—even as they critique it—as an exploration and expression of the self. They acknowledge its tradition as a colonial discourse and a study of others, but they also argue for ethnography’s advantage in connecting subjectivity to the outside world. Further, they find that ethnography offers the possibility of capturing within the hybrid culture of the Caribbean an emergent self that nonetheless remains attached to its collective history and environment. Rather than claiming to be able to represent the culture they also feel alienated from, these writers explore the relationships between themselves, the community, and the environment.

Although Kullberg’s focus is on Martinique, her work opens up possibilities for intertextual readings and comparative studies of writers from every linguistic region in the Caribbean—not only francophone but also Hispanic and anglophone. In addition, her interdisciplinary approach extends the reach of her work beyond postcolonial and literary studies to anthropology and ecocriticism.


Well thought out and impeccably organized, this book makes an original contribution to the field of Caribbean studies. Its combination of critical approaches—postcolonial critique, poetics, current ethnographic theory—allows for a novel approach. Written in a lively, flowing style, the book succeeds in giving readers a new perspective on Martinican literature.

Adriana Méndez Rodenas, University of Iowa

"It is extremely well researched and cogently argued, and the varying levels to which these authors are imbricated in the field is clearly established. Kullberg’s ethnographic focus illuminates unheralded aspects of Martinican fiction, making the book a worthwhile endeavor and investment."

H. Adlai Murdoch · Journal of Anthropological Research

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