Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures
352pp. April 2007
Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures
Author: DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M.;
"Elizabeth DeLoughrey invokes the cyclical model of the continual movement and rhythm of the ocean (‘tidalectics’) to destabilize the national, ethnic, and even regional frameworks that have been the mainstays of literary study. The result is a privileging of alter/native epistemologies whereby island cultures are positioned where they should have been all along—at the forefront of the world historical process of transoceanic migration and landfall. The research, determination, and intellectual dexterity that infuse this nuanced and meticulous reading of Pacific and Caribbean literature invigorate and deepen our interest in and appreciation of island literature." —Vilsoni Hereniko, University of Hawai‘i

"Elizabeth DeLoughrey brings contemporary hybridity, diaspora, and globalization theory to bear on ideas of indigeneity to show the complexities of ‘native’ identities and rights and their grounded opposition as ‘indigenous regionalism’ to free-floating globalized cosmopolitanism. Her models are instructive for all postcolonial readers in an age of transnational migrations." —Paul Sharrad, University of Wollongong, Australia

Routes and Roots is the first comparative study of Caribbean and Pacific Island literatures and the first work to bring indigenous and diaspora literary studies together in a sustained dialogue. Taking the "tidalectic" between land and sea as a dynamic starting point, Elizabeth DeLoughrey foregrounds geography and history in her exploration of how island writers inscribe the complex relation between routes and roots.

The first section looks at the sea as history in literatures of the Atlantic middle passage and Pacific Island voyaging, theorizing the transoceanic imaginary. The second section turns to the land to examine indigenous epistemologies in nation-building literatures. Both sections are particularly attentive to the ways in which the metaphors of routes and roots are gendered, exploring how masculine travelers are naturalized through their voyages across feminized lands and seas. This methodology of charting transoceanic migration and landfall helps elucidate how theories and people travel, positioning island cultures in the world historical process. In fact, DeLoughrey demonstrates how these tropical island cultures helped constitute the very metropoles that deemed them peripheral to modernity.

Fresh in its ideas, original in its approach, Routes and Roots engages broadly with history, anthropology, and feminist, postcolonial, Caribbean, and Pacific literary and cultural studies. It productively traverses diaspora and indigenous studies in a way that will facilitate broader discussion between these often segregated disciplines.

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"Original, impeccably researched, and often compelling. . . . The breadth of DeLoughrey's research is impressive. She carefully situates Caribbean and Pacific Island works within complex matrices of colonial, neocolonial, and indigenous discourses as well as within the unresolvable tensions among competing theories of history and divergent practices of historiography. Her work is further distinguished by a consistent attention to issues of gender and an analysis of the gendered nature of key metaphors, in both Caribbean and Pacific contexts for ocean and island, migration and settlement. . . . Elizabeth DeLoughrey’s study is exemplary as a provocation to comparative methods for literary and cultural scholarship." —Journal of New Zealand Literature (25, 2007)

"A very fine exemplar of comparative island scholarship. . . . DeLoughrey is brave in attempting a review of Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures. This is no easy task, since it expects a sound appreciation of regional material, as well as a sensibility to seek and tease out valid comparisons and contrasts. Nevertheless, DeLoughrey rises handsomely to this challenge. . . . Routes and Roots navigates confidently through history and anthropology, as well as through feminist, postcolonial, literary and cultural studies." —Island Studies Journal (2:2, 2007)

"Routes and Roots is a remarkable achievement. It is challenging and informed and makes for compelling reading. . . . The author is fluent, and even at times poetic, in the explication of her subject. The contribution is original and valuable in its ability to bring together the often misleadingly segregated disciplines of diaspora and indigenous studies." —Wasafiri (23:3, 2008)

Author: DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M.;
Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey is associate professor of postcolonial literatures in the Department of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is coeditor of Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture.
Read the Introduction (PDF).

Genealogies of Place

Note on the Text

Introduction Tidalectics: Navigating Repeating Islands

I. The Sea is History: Transoceanic Diasporas

1. Middle Passages: Modernity and Creolization

2. Vessels of the Pacific: An Ocean in the Blood

II. Indigenous Landscapes and National Settlements

3. Dead Reckoning: National Genealogies in Aotearoa / New Zealand

4. Adrift and Unmoored: Globalization and Urban Indigeneity

5. Landfall: Carib and Arawak Sedimentation