What’s on Our Nightstands: Martin Munro’s “Tropical Apocalypse”


On my list of books to read as soon as possible is Tropical Apocalypse: Haiti and the Caribbean End Times (University of Virginia Press, 2015). Mark D. Anderson (University of Georgia, author of Disaster Writing: The Cultural Politics of Catastrophe in Latin America) describes: “Tropical Apocalypse is a fascinating and informative study of recent Haitian cultural representations of a series of natural and man-made disasters. In addition to appealing to a wide audience of specialists, this book will inspire and enlighten the thousands who travel to Haiti as members of religious and humanitarian missions, as it will help them understand how Haitians conceive of their own reality.”

Description: In Tropical Apocalypse, Martin Munro argues that since the earliest days of European colonization, Caribbean—and especially Haitian—history has been shaped by apocalyptic events so that the region has, in effect, been living for centuries in an end time without end. By engaging with the contemporary apocalyptic turn in Caribbean studies and lived reality, he not only provides important historical contextualization for a general understanding of apocalypse in the region but also offers an account of the state of Haitian society and culture in the decades before the 2010 earthquake. Inherently interdisciplinary, his work ranges widely through Caribbean and Haitian thought, historiography, political discourse, literature, film, religion, and ecocriticism in its exploration of whether culture in these various forms can shape the future of a country.

The author begins by situating the question of the Caribbean apocalypse in relation to broader, global narratives of the apocalyptic present, notably Slavoj Žižek’s Living in the End Times. Tracing the evolution of apocalyptic thought in Caribbean literature from Negritude up to the present, he notes the changes from the early work of Aimé Césaire; through an anti-apocalyptic period in which writers such as Frantz Fanon, Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Édouard Glissant, and Michael Dash have placed more emphasis on lived experience and the interrelatedness of cultures and societies; to a contemporary stage in which versions of the apocalyptic reappear in the work of David Scott and Mark Anderson.

Martin Munro is Winthrop-King Professor of French and Francophone Studies and Director of the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. His publications include Different Drummers: Rhythm and Race in the AmericasWriting on the Fault Line: Haitian Literature and the Earthquake of 2010Tropical Apocalypse: Haiti and the Caribbean End Times, and the edited collections Edwidge Danticat: A Reader’s Guide and The Haunted Tropics: Caribbean Ghost Stories.

For purchasing information, see http://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/4830

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