New Book: “The World as Abyss”

The World as Abyss: The Caribbean and Critical Thought in the Anthropocene (2023), by Jonathan Pugh (Newcastle University, GB) and David Chandler (University of Westminster, GB), is available from University of Westminster Press in various formats.

Mónica Fernández Jiménez (Valladolid University, Spain) writes, “A much-needed intellectual effort in the non-reductionist and non-essentialising style of Pugh and Chandler’s previous book, The World as Abyss gives Caribbean thought and culture the place they deserve within critical theory and materialist studies.” Paul Harrison (Human Geography, Durham University, UK) describes it as a book “With the force of a manifesto, the intensity of a polemic, and the nuance of a treatise [that] sets out to disavow the disavowal of colonial violence in the making of the contemporary world and thought. [. . .]” Read more at the University of Westminster Press.

Description: This book is about a distinctive ‘abyssal’ approach to the crisis of modernity. In this framing, influenced by contemporary critical Black studies, another understanding of the world of modernity is foregrounded – a world violently forged through the projects of Indigenous dispossession, chattel slavery and colonial world-making. Modern and colonial world-making violently forged the ‘human’ by dividing those with ontological security from those without, and by carving out the ‘world’ in a fixed grid of space and time, delineating a linear temporality of ‘progress’ and ‘development’. The distinctiveness of abyssal thought is that it inverts the stakes of critique and brings indeterminacy into the heart of ontological assumptions of a world of entities, essences, and universal determination. This is an approach that does not focus upon tropes of rescue and salvation but upon the generative power of negation. In doing so, it highlights how Caribbean experiences and writings have been drawn upon to provide an important and distinct perspective for critical thought. [. . .]

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