“Exiles Must Make Their Own Maps”: Space, the Tyranny of Teleology, and Derek Walcott
This paper looks at tropes of space in Michel de Montaigne and Immanuel Kant, and discusses how these tropes both constitute foundational elements of the spatial imaginary of Western imperialism and how they express teleological “imperatives” of “the colonial enterprise.” From the broader sweep of writers, philosophers, painters, and explorers that I look at in the larger study from which this paper derives, I have chosen Montaigne and Kant because they provide both focus and a range of “positions” (e.g., 16th-century and 18th-century, essayist and philosopher, “physicist” and “metaphysicist”) that contribute to what can be called the “metaphysics of empire.” This paper then looks at how the poetry of Derek Walcott repeatedly deals with history, ideas (or constructions) of space, and identity to engage with particularly influential manifestations of the “metaphysics of empire.” Through these postcolonial engagements, Walcott’s poetry works to remap (and thus redefine) the Caribbean and thereby the world.
Keywords: Postcolonial, Empire, Imperialism, Place, Mapping, Identity, Race, Teleology, Metaphysics, Binary Logic, History, Naming
Dr. Kevin M. Hickey
Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies, Department of Arts & Sciences, Albany College of Pharmacy