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"Suspended Nameless in the Limbo State": Neoliberalism and Queer Caribbean Diasporas

  • Author(s): Best, Jessica Marie
  • Advisor(s): Gui, Weihsin
  • et al.
Abstract

ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION

"Suspended Nameless in the Limbo State":

Neoliberalism and Queer Caribbean Diasporas

by

Jessica Marie Best

Doctor of Philosophy, Graduate Program in English

University of California, Riverside, December 2013

Dr. Weihsin Gui, Chairperson

This project seeks to reveal the heterogeneous cultural histories embedded within queer diasporic Caribbean writing that challenge the United States' political, economic, and cultural hegemony in the post-9/11 world. The goal is to examine the complicities, challenges, and escape routes created by queer imaginings, both utopic and pragmatic, rather than reconfigure essential characteristics of Caribbean diasporas as key components of nationalist, diasporic, or postcolonial identity. In revealing how different forms of desire, kinship, racial belonging, temporality, and positioning exist within and exceed our current notions of nation and diaspora, this dissertation goes beyond an understanding of the terms "queer" and "diaspora" as identities resistant to the nation-state and sees them as working towards a dismantling of neoliberal discourses and their hegemonic framework within the cultural spaces of North America and the Caribbean.

This project will contextualize the nation to the settler-colonial space of the North American continent. It will not only consider how foreign policy directly relates to domestic concerns, but will take as its central understanding that "the state has always operated through sovereign power exacted through racial and colonial violence" (Smith, "American Studies" 310, original emphasis). This project will use queer diasporic writing to imagine alternative forms of being and belonging, while never presuming that "the United States should or will always continue to exist" (Smith, "American Studies" 312). Thus, it does not affirm nor celebrate state power or governmentality exercised by the U.S. state, even though it will examine authors and texts that exist within its national and cultural borders. Indeed, I will take a theoretically comparative approach by examining the intersections between postcolonial and queer theories, along with feminist, indigenous, and trans theories, to examine contemporary queer North American writing from the Caribbean diaspora. I employ these cultural discourses as tools for critiquing and dismantling dominant heteropatriarchal institutions, neoliberalism, neocolonialism, and homonormativity, which are key cultural and political components to United States hegemony.

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