“SO YOU ARE FROM THE ISLANDS?” THE ARTICULATION OF STRUCTURAL AND HISTORICAL TRAUMA IN JAMAICA KINCAID’S LUCY
Keywords:structural trauma, historical trauma, trauma envy, settler envy, limitcase autobiography
The transposition of the medical concept of “trauma” to the field of literary criticism in the 1990s inaugurated a new theoretical trend, “Trauma Studies”, a spin-off of the socalled
“turn to ethics” in the Humanities, born, partly, as an attempt to come to terms with the traumas inflicted by colonialism. This essay analyses the ways in which the coordinates of imperialism traverse Lucy —the protagonist of Kincaid’s homonymous novel— in the light of Trauma Studies. LaCapra’s distinction between structural and historical traumas and his re-elaboration of the Freudian concept of working through, will be drawn upon in order to better understand this coming-of-age story. I will also resort to Mowitt’s trauma envy” and Delrez’s “settler envy”, to study how trauma is not the prerogative of the ex-colonial subjects. Reading Lucy against the trauma paradigm casts light not only on its thematic concerns but also on Kincaid’s choice of narrative mode, as Lucy is a limit-case autobiography, a form that merges trauma and self-representation.
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