Transnationally rooted practices of candombleé in Toni Morrison’s paradise

Shaun Myers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Since the 1970s, a number of African American writers, including Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Danzy Senna, and Elizabeth Alexander, have developed literary works around Brazilian spiritual, cultural, and social formations. Advancing within a hemispheric context Houston Baker’s concept of an “oceanic critical consciousness,” this article examines how narrative representations of Candomble´ in Toni Morrison’s Paradise (1997) prompt acts of self-reconstruction that penetrate the national borders framing certain notions of African American identity in the post-Civil Rights era. The author argues for greater recognition of the abiding yet often ambivalent transnationality of African American identity and its employment, particularly by women writers, in contemporary African American literature. The article suggests that African American literature and U.S. blackness in general must be resituated in global terms and that one way of doing so is through the figure of the woman spiritually reconstituted through transnationally rooted practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
JournalSouls
Volume16
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • African American literature
  • Black transnationalism
  • Black women’s literature
  • Brazil
  • Candombleé
  • Diaspora
  • Toni Morrison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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