Forthcoming: Faith Smith’s “Strolling in the Ruins” 

Our warmest congratulations to Faith Smith, who was recently appointed to the Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies at Brandeis University. Her new book—Strolling in the Ruins: The Caribbean’s Non-sovereign Modern in the Early Twentieth Century (2023)—will be published by Duke University Press in April.

David Scott (Columbia University) writes, “Faith Smith’s Strolling in the Ruins seeks to perturb and discompose the pervasive story of Anglophone Caribbean sovereignty, with its familiar rhythms and moments, events and directions, and texts and figures. With an insouciant edge, muted irony, and compelling insight, she invites us to reevaluate some of our most cherished conceits of gendered, sexual, racial, and political citizenship. Above all, Smith is a consummate critic of the will to power of the heroic Caribbean narrative of postcolonial achievement.”

Description: In Strolling in the Ruins, Faith Smith engages with a period in the history of the Anglophone Caribbean often overlooked as nondescript, quiet, and embarrassingly pro-imperial within the larger narrative of Jamaican and Trinidadian nationalism. Between the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion and World War I, British imperialism was taken for granted among both elites and ordinary people, while nationalist discourses would not begin to shape political imagination in the West Indies for decades. Smith argues that this moment, far from being uneventful, disrupts the inevitability of nationhood in the mid-twentieth century and anticipates the Caribbean’s present-day relationship to global power.

Smith assembles and analyzes a diverse set of texts, from Carnival songs, poems, and novels to newspapers, photographs, and gardens, to examine theoretical and literary-historiographic questions concerning time and temporality, empire and diaspora, immigration and indigeneity, gender and the politics of desire, Africa’s place within Caribbeanist discourse, and the idea of the Caribbean itself. Closely examining these cultural expressions of apparent quiescence, Smith locates the quiet violence of colonial rule and the insistence of colonial subjects on making meaningful lives.

Faith Smith is Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and of English at Brandeis University. She is the author of Creole Recitations: John Jacob Thomas and Colonial Formation in the Late Nineteenth-Century Caribbean and editor of Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean.

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