“Exiles Must Make Their Own Maps”: Space, the Tyranny of Teleology, and Derek Walcott

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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
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , “Exiles Must Make Their Own Maps”


Dr. Kevin M. Hickey

Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies, Department of Arts & Sciences, Albany College of Pharmacy
Albany, New York, USA

Kevin M. Hickey is assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at Albany College of Pharmacy (New York) and a NEH award recipient. He has published on travel, colonial, and postcolonial literatures in numerous encyclopedias, journals, and books. His research focuses on conceptions of space (e.g., center, margin, “underground,” home, museum, nation) and power. Specifically, he looks at two interconnecting issues: first, how long-19th-century metaphysical and Romantic philosophies both supported and disrupted ideas of the expanding British empire; and second, how the texts of African and Afro-diasporic writers work to transform these colonial ideas to argue a longstanding African presence. This African presence counters the dominant concepts (i.e., colonial concepts) of space and the power structures sustained by those spatial conceptions. He asks how these new spatial conceptions promote a more just and sustainable world. Additionally, Hickey has published travel articles in American and European newspapers and magazines and is currently working on a book about his six-year (61,000 kms) bicycle trip through Europe and Africa

Ref: H08P0712