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British Association for American Studies


Issue 3, Spring 2003: Article 6


Issue 3, Spring 2003: Article 6

U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal

Issue 3, Spring 2003: Special Conference Edition

Toni Morrison and the Magical Re-Visioning of Space

Sara Upstone
© Sara Upstone. All Rights Reserved

This paper aims to engage with the work of Toni Morrison from within the critical context of what may loosely be termed postcolonial studies. This in itself needs some qualification, as it is in some ways problematic to view the American nation as postcolonial. For although America ceased to be colonial in 1776, it has gone on to become one of the most influential neo-colonial powers in the modern world. The definition of the American nation as postcolonial raises problems for postcolonial approaches to the nation since postcolonial studies are concerned primarily with issues of the peripheral. Indeed, America is clearly not a peripheral nation either geographically or ideologically and its colonial policy has in some ways continued through aggressive territorial expansion and an economic strength that allows America to exert powerfully its influence. It is for this reason that critics such as Timothy Powell, when tracing the concept of America as a postcolonial nation, highlights the conceptual fluidity of the term postcolonialism. Powell notes that while some critics see writers such as Emerson and Melville as trying to carve out a new American voice that may be seen in itself as postcolonial, other critics point to ethnic groups still colonized from within America. For example, African and Hispanic Americans would exemplify the postcolonial subject as it is they who face the continued legacy of colonial practices of prejudice and segregation. [1] This does not mean that American writers cannot be included within discussions on postcolonialism. Indeed, the special nature of their position in the world means they must be confronted whenever we use the term postcolonialism, suggesting that its easy, catch-all status is a gross over-simplification. Further, we cannot simply use the term as a trope for concepts such as marginality, otherness, and difference.

This paper argues that Toni Morrison’s novels may be seen as clearly postcolonial. For not only do they come from an American writer who may be seen to be following in the tradition of figures who are postcolonial in the purely historical sense (and also possibly in the sense of a new post-1776 American literature), they also come from an African-American writer who engages with how colonial power has been perpetuated in the exploitation of black Americans. In addition, Morrison addresses how this exploitation is an important part of the perception of America as a neo-colonial nation today. In this way, Morrison may be seen to effectively interrogate both America’s colonial past, and also its neo-colonial present, a linkage of history with the contemporary which may in many ways be responsible for her massive popular success.

Indeed, it is for one half of this strategy, namely her interaction with history, that Morrison has been most clearly identified as a writer of particular cultural significance. Yet it is not that aspect of her work that I would like to focus on here, but rather on a far less discussed facet of her writing, that is Morrison’s use of space as a category that both accompanies her critique of history and, at times, provides relief from the official discourses that such history is associated with. The spatial, be it the study of nations at one end of the spectrum, or everyday household containers at the other, has been the focus of increasing critical attention in recent years. We need only note Michel Foucault’s proclamation that ‘the present epoch will be above all else the epoch of space’ [2] to confirm its central place in current thinking. Increasingly, we find texts devoted to spatial analysis without a continual referencing of time as a factor which ‘has causal priority’ [3] but where, instead, Grossberg’s desire for ‘space itself to become a philosophical project’ [4] has been fulfilled: in Steve Pile and Nigel Thrift’s Mapping the Subject, Marcus Doel’s Poststructuralist Geographies, Edward Soja’s Thirdspace and Postmetropolis, David Harvey’s Spaces of Hope. [5] Moreover, it is not a preoccupation that has passed by postcolonial theory, and we may see in the postcolonial novel an active attempt to use space in creative and original ways. Indeed, this paper would suggest that it is in the category of the spatial that we may find some of the most important resistances to the continued impact of colonisation. Just as there is a colonial linear time, so there is an equally pervasive colonial space of similar linearity and rigidity, a space most comprehensively outlined by J.K. Noyes who defines the colonial space as one that is tabular, gridded and Euclidean, ‘a space which relies upon a strategy of totalization’ [6] and overwrites the spatial characteristics developed by the autochthonous cultures it conquers, as it ‘supplants any experiential forms which preceded it’. [7] Therefore, just as there is a unique presentation of history in the postcolonial novel that acts as a corrective to colonial time, so there is also a postcolonial presentation of space that may answer back to its colonial predecessor.

By creating a new concept of space, the postcolonial novel may subvert the way by which colonialism relies upon the use of territory and mapping to support its enterprise, a strategy that is ironic in the fact that it is a method of resistance that may mean taking something positive from the very site of oppression. This is not to deny the violence of colonial spaces, but rather to attempt to seize that which is negative in order to subvert its significance. Thus I turn your attention to Bill Ashcroft’s recent book On Post-Colonial Futures in which he emphasises exactly such a transformation of space and its significance. [8] Writing on the Caribbean Sugar Plantation, Ashcroft describes it the site of ‘the most traumatized and disrupted colonial populations’, the very epitome in many ways of colonial violence. [9] Yet he also says that it is the site of what he terms ‘the most revolutionary cultural developments.’ [10] This is not only in spite of colonialism, a vibrant Creole culture that prevailed despite malnutrition, brutality and disease, but also because of it, the sense that the forms of cultural resistance built up as a response to exploitation are the bedrock of the vitality of the Caribbean. Similarly, Guyanese writer Wilson Harris has referred to the ‘heart in the wound’ [11], a process of re-discovering a wealth of experience and cultural diversity obscured by the negative attributes of colonialism, a wealth that preceded colonisation but also came about as those colonised reacted creatively to their circumstances. Yet it is also something that we may associate directly with African-American responses. bell hooks, for example, has explicitly invoked the spatial by claiming the margin as a site of resistance, a reconfiguring of negative space that affirms Ashcroft’s argument. For hooks, situating the postcolonial within colonial space is a political act as the ex-centric location becomes not just the margin as a site of territorial loss but also the ‘margin as a space of radical openness’ [12] that provides the postcolonial commentator a unique view on the world and thus a unique critique of its practices. These ‘spaces where we begin the process of re-vision’ [13] are, in contrast to the colonial, filled with ‘multiple voices’ [14], postcolonial spaces where oppression has been marvellously transformed into resistance offering ‘the possibility of radical perspective from which to see and create, to imagine new alternatives, new worlds.’ [15]

For Toni Morrison, it is her use of magical-realist narrative, I would argue, that fulfils this potential. By magical-realism, I do not mean to suggest that Morrison is a writer of fantastic literature. Rather, I mean to emphasise the way in which her work presents us with a heightened presentation of reality; a heightened presentation that serves the postcolonial re-visioning of space because, as Wendy Faris has noted, the magical-realist text is one that questions received notions about space, time and identity, as it acts to ‘delineate sacred enclosures […] and then allow these sacred spaces to leak their magical narrative waters over the rest of the text and the world it describes.’ [16] Magical-realism undermines the spatial homogeneity of conventional realism with a new space of hybridity and flux, in the same way that the postcolonial novel acts to undermine the colonial space that such realism is predicated on. Perhaps the most obvious example of such a strategy in Morrison’s work is the presentation of the domestic space in Beloved. For 124 Bluestone Road truly is a magical-realist space, a house marvellously haunted by a chaotic possession that allows it to become a vehicle that transports its inhabitants beyond their immediate histories. Metonymic qualities see the house at times stand for the slave ship of the middle passage, its sounds described by Morrison as echoing ‘the sounds in the body of a ship’ [17], in what is a common strategy of post-colonial magical-realism, what Stephen Slemon has referred to as, ‘transformational regionalism so that the site of the text, though described in familiar and local terms, is metonymic of the postcolonial culture as a whole.’[18] Instead of simply an 1873 house in a Cincinnati street, we are instead transported to the personal and denied collective histories of slaves, as their own voices leak unmediated through the home’s walls, Beloved’s recalling, ‘nothing to breathe down here and no room to move in’ [19]. It is ‘larger than the people who lived there. Something more than Beloved.’ [20]

Yet 124 Bluestone Road is the most heavily discussed of all Morrison’s spaces, and if we are to establish the fact that a postcolonial, transformative, and magical space is at work in Morrison’s novels, then we must look in detail at the qualities of the other spaces that proliferate in her novels. In terms of domestic space, it is important that the dwelling in Tar Baby functions in a way that strongly foreshadows the spatial re-visioning of 124 Bluestone Road. Like 124 Bluestone Road, the house of L’Arbe de la Croix that forms the spatial focus in Tar Baby, is a house that is both reflective of colonial patterns and yet ultimately undermining of them. It is colonial in its architecture and location, a 1970s house existing in the shadow of French colonial administration identified by ‘French colonial taxes’ [21] and ‘administration buildings’ [22], and also in its domestic practices and the attitudes of its inhabitants. It retains house servants in a process reminiscent of Phyllis Palmer’s argument that ‘after emancipation the imagery of service remained intact’ [23], and that servitude was ‘nothing less than slavery.’ [24] Yet, ultimately, Morrison’s narrative inverts such a structure as it is the servants of the house that come to assert themselves, questioning and defiling both the physical and mental boundaries set up by the employer and invading those spaces most valued by the landowner. The newcomer, named ‘Son’, makes such a process explicit, waking the house, hiding in its closets, to discover its least-explored corners in a way that its mistress Margaret has never done so that he ‘grew to know the house well’ [25] until ‘It became his, sort of. A nighttime possession.’ [26] Morrison gives the house a life and identity of its own which gives it the capacity for such monumental change, no longer closed to the outside world as the wilderness creeps in through its walls and, indeed, such an alteration is woven into the very structure of Morrison’s narrative. Thus, just as we find the use of metonym and personification of the house in Beloved, so here we again find a house personified, ‘a house of shadows.’ [27] Simile, too, features heavily in the representation. It is a house ‘both closed and wide open. Like an ear it resists easy penetration but cannot brace for attack’ [28], a place where ‘fog came […] in wisps sometimes, like the hair of maiden aunts. Hair so pale and thin it went unnoticed until masses of it gathered around the house and threw back one’s own reflection from the windows’ [29], allowing its inhabitants to see themselves with new vision.

Such a strategy strikes at the heart of its colonial counterpart. As Anne McClintock has noted, the domestic space in colonial discourse would so often function as a metaphor for the colony, so that ‘imperialism cannot be understood without a theory of domestic space’ [30], even at the level of the mass marketing of particular household items:

Both the cult of domesticity and the new imperialism found in soap an exemplary mediating form. The emergent middle class values – monogamy (“clean” sex, which has value), industrial capital (“clean” money, which has value), Christianity (“being washed in the blood of the lamb”), class control (“cleansing the great unwashed”) and the imperial civilising mission (washing and clothing the savage”) – could all be marvellously embodied in a single household commodity.[31]

Thus for postcolonial critics, to ‘domesticate’ is not only to form the home, but also to be involved in a discourse of order that echoes colonial division of space at the level of the nation. For Nathaniel Mackey, ‘what place means in American poetics is most often the quality of not having been wholly domesticated or mapped’ [32], so that the colonial mapping is parallel to its domestication, and what the postcolonial novel charts is the spaces that have so far resisted these enterprises. When Morrison replaces metaphor with simile, she gives us, instead of the colonial home, a space imbued with an independent significance of its own, a space that may be like something else but is never a simple cipher. It has a power of its own that makes it valid in its own right, truly a re-presentation.

If we focus upon the many other uses of space beyond the domestic that Morrison employs throughout her novels, then we can see that such a strategy is an important motif across the author’s fiction, tying her closely to the postcolonial novel’s project of revising the colonial presentation of space. It is not only the home that is revised in Beloved. If we take movements across space such as journeys, then we find that they too are revised. For the journey, like the home, is revealed to contain a sense of instability, like the home a chaos or fluidity. Once again, such a space denies colonial authority as the linear space of order and control comes to be represented in historical accounts of movement and in the policing of borders as limiting spaces. Toni Morrison takes a real slave narrative, that of Margaret Garner, as her basis for the central character Sethe’s journey to freedom. Yet she makes it a journey that is continually repeated and altered through remembrance, doubly displaced as not only her own remembering of the journey, but also her daughter’s remembrance of its original telling, in order to distance the movement from its original form. In this way she reminds us of the narratives written during slavery that were both colonial and, continuing after 1776, neo-colonial, but she then also reworks their significance, inserting an ambiguity into their telling that means the journey can no longer be fixed, defined or mapped with any certainty. The movements of slavery are captured in a form that emphasises the unpredictable and the personal. Consciously changing the Margaret Garner slave account, Morrison strategically alters the fugitive slave woman’s companions, removing Sethe’s husband from the journey even though Margaret Garner travelled with her husband, in order to create an explicitly gendered experience. [33] The fact that it is Sethe’s story rather than those of the males surrounding her that becomes prominent, indeed is the very voice for their stories, subverts powerfully the assertion that ‘the masculine heroic discourse of discovery is not available to women.’ [34] Moreover, with the inclusion instead of Amy Denver, a white woman, as Sethe’s accomplice, the narrative also acts to overwrite an opposition of slave against master with the union of white and African-American women. Beloved refuses the binary opposition of colonised and coloniser that would define the slave as ‘other’ in favour of more problematic characterisations, as we find a gradual wearing away as the movement continues that turns Amy’s awareness of ‘a nigger’ [35] into tenderness and ‘good hands.’ [36]

What is of particular interest in such a reversal is its ability to go beyond rejecting the colonial and highlighting exploitation, towards suggesting positive future possibilities for the postcolonial citizen. In Beloved this means that Sethe’s journey, a slave journey re-visioned by Morrison’s narrative, is no longer only a trauma, but also a political defiance, refusing to die on what she refers to as the ‘wrong side of the river’ when such rivers are integral to the boundaries of a United States of colonial and neo-colonial inequality, ‘very important in the creation of colonial, state and county boundaries in the United States.’ [37] The emphasis on power has shifted, away from the power of the colonist, towards the power of the individual to enact resistance, an assertion of ‘the individual and collective agency demonstrated by seemingly “powerless” players on the global stage.’ [38] We are no longer reading an echo of the past. Instead, I would argue, Morrison is invoking what Anuradha Needham has termed the postcolonial ‘re-play’ [39]: the use of a well-known narrative to conjure particular images in the mind of the reader, images which are then subverted and overturned rather than supported, ‘displacing, unsettling, or interrogating.’ [40] For Sethe’s journey is no longer the story of a victim, as we might expect, but rather of the creative strategies of a survivor. Indeed, following on from the metonymic transformation of 124 Bluestone Road, what Beloved herself represents is another version of this traveller. The ‘traveller’ of the Middle Passage ‘disremembered and unaccounted for, she cannot be lost because no one is looking for her’ [41], as Beloved gives her a movement, makes her a journeywoman, walking silently ‘they ought to have heard her tread, but they didn’t’ [42], ‘a loneliness that can be rocked […] this motion, unlike a ship’s […] a loneliness that roams’ [43] as Sethe’s ancestors in Beloved lose their lives to the water and are yet are also born out of it – ‘they fall into the sea […] I come out of the water.’ [44] However much Beloved is ‘not a story to pass on’ [45], this silent movement will secure her remembrance, will ensure that her name is remembered and that her story is re-inscribed, drawing its own trace on the landscape, even as it seemingly disappears, re-played in the movement of others just as Beloved herself embodies a re-play:

the rustle of a skirt […] the knuckles brushing a cheek […] Down by the streams in the back of 124 her footprints come and go, come and go. They are so familiar. Should a child, an adult place his feet in them, they will fit. Take them out again and they disappear again as though nobody ever walked there. […] Beloved. [46]

Moreover, Morrison’s other novels strongly substantiate the fact that such a spatial strategy is being enacted. In Song of Solomon, for example, movement through space both signifies oppression and at the same time opens a doorway to new possibilities for resistance. The central character Milkman’s journey from the Midwest into the South is a painful awakening to his past, and yet it is important that we note that it is an awakening nevertheless. Thus at its beginning Milkman’s journey is a reproduction of the characteristics of the colonial journey. It is an adventure towards buried treasure, a kind of El Dorado’s gold, that provides reminders of the colonial expedition: Milkman journeying into the unknown, exoticising the characters he meets, and initially mapping his territory in the same way as the colonist as meaning nothing more than the physical landmarks that will lead him towards riches. Thus ‘he watched signs – the names of towns that lay twenty-two miles ahead, seventeen miles to the east, five miles to the northeast. And the names of junctions, counties, crossings, bridges, stations, tunnels, mountains rivers, creeks, landings, parks and lookout points’ [47], measuring his space. However, in a perfect example of ‘re-play’, the journey quickly alters to undermine the very narrative it initially appears to construct. Airplane flight gives Milkman a distorted view of reality—‘it was not possible to believe he had ever made a mistake’ [48]—which is continued on the ground: watching names on the bus only to find when he alights that ‘there were no street signs anywhere’ [49], so that the mapped space has been replaced by a space that cannot be mapped. Instead of the cartographic spaces of the colonial, Milkman finds instead those places implicit in the oppression of African-Americans but overwritten and denied: ‘you can’t walk it, that’s for sure. Buses go there? Trains? No. Well, not very near’ [50], a ‘winding path (which they called a road).’ [51] Moreover, just as for the other experiences of space we have focused on, there is a nexus to resistance that is enabled by such transformation. At the end of his journey, like the ‘flying African children […] those Africans they brought over here as slaves could fly. A lot of them flew back to Africa’. [52] Milkman finds that he too can literally ride the air and, in doing so, can reverse the Middle Passage in an important act of self-assertion. Invoking music as a powerful gateway that undermines a journey based on sight, foreshadowed at the novel’s opening as Mr Smith ‘heard the music, and leaped on into the air’ [53] the meaning of the negro spiritual ‘Solomon done fly’ awakens Milkman to ‘his interest in his own people […] growing’ [54], to find his own epiphany, his own conclusion to the journey, not in treasure but in divine awakening. It is the spiritual that Ronald Segal has emphasised as central to slave resistance, the dream of freedom that expresses flight to a space without territory:

Sometimes I feel like
A eagle in de air
Spread my wings an’
Fly, fly, fly. [55]

Milkman is no longer repeating a colonial journey, but creating his own in counterpoint – a journey not of containment, but of free movement – and, in doing so, he provides a powerful alternative to the violent resistance he is so nearly immersed in, a replacement of the colonial desire to order space with a postcolonial expression of its fluidity. The physical journey only serves to facilitate a mental progress that is infinitely more powerful, Morrison’s own epigraph: ‘the fathers may soar’ and, as a result, ‘the children may know their names.’ [56]

The most powerful evidence for such transformation, however, is that it extends to the most intimate space of the individual’s body, which is itself spatialised by Morrison so that it can never be ultimately held in the service of any power. Milkman’s flight, of course, is an engagement with such freedom, emphasised by the fact that Milkman does not gain economic wealth but, in gaining spiritual riches, appears to lose everything, as ‘he was only his breath, coming slower now, and his thoughts. The rest of him had disappeared’ [57]: even his body. It may be seen more clearly in one particular incident in Beloved, that of Paul D’s escape from the chain gang. Paul D dances limbo to freedom, ‘Down through the mud under the bars, blind groping.’ [58] Such an act reflects Wilson Harris’s definition of limbo as an African ritual used by the slave on the slave-ship in order to fold space, where, spider-like, ‘the limbo dancer moves under a bar which is gradually lowered until only a mere slit of space, it seems, remains […] so that a re-trace of the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas and the West Indies is not to be equated with a uniform sum’ [59], and may be seen as an enactment by Morrison of a magical-realist strategy that undermines the Euclidean and geometrical space relied upon by colonial mapping. Indeed, in this case, it subverts the colonial system of punishment as well; a system that puts men behind bars based on a rationalist knowledge of the human body, but is outdone by the capacity of the individual to transcend these limits. Yet it is Morrison’s female characters who perhaps express this power most effectively as they spatialise their bodies against not only colonial representation, but also its extension through patriarchy. In Morrison’s most recent novel, Paradise, the isolated women of the convent successfully escape their physical forms as they are constructed by the community around them, denigrated and abused. The forces that threaten them are defined by a bodily absolutism, a subverted ‘colorism’ [60] where there is ‘a new separation: light-skinned against black.’ [61] In opposition, the women instead create an abstract space which can no longer be touched by such forces, as the body is transferred:

Consolata told each to undress and lie down. In flattering light under Consolata’s soft vision they did as they were told. How should we lie? However you feel […] When each found the position she could tolerate on the cold, uncompromising floor, Consolata walked around her and painted the body’s silhouette. [62]

In a displaced somatography, lying on the floor and drawing round themselves to create a self-portrait that may also be seen as a re-birth, the women draw their broken dreams on their bodies. Through art, the women painfully remember the abuse, ‘pain from a stranger’s penis and a mother’s rivalry.’[63] Yet they then transcend this to approach the magical, creating surrealist visions of themselves, ‘a crooked fluffy mouth […] Two long fangs.’ [64] They become not ‘nobodies’ but, in an important distinction and linguistic subversion, ‘No bodies. Nothing’ [65], as they ‘took other shapes and disappeared into the air.’ [66] Here Morrison may be seen to ally herself not only to the postcolonial re-visioning of space, but also to poststructuralist spatial theory, where bodies become Deleuzian ‘intensities’ [67] that are sheer energy, constantly transforming, rather that limited by the constraints of identity. Such performativity reclaims the most ultimate space, and sends the message that, despite violence against the body being central to any imperial endeavour, the individuals themselves become a territory that can never be wholly conquered. Indeed, what such a reading reveals is the intensely poststructuralist nature of all of Morrison’s spaces, the ‘reading and re-reading […] Infinite infinities folded into each event of space’ [68] and ‘scattering footprints and pathways’ [69] that may be seen in her revision of narrative journeys, the ‘whirling vapour’ [70] that may be seen in her presentation of the chaotic and multi-layered home. It is a combination that suggests that poststructuralism may be more than the nihilist free-play it is so often seen as; that it may instead suggest very real strategies for very real oppressions.

These are just a few examples of what is a widespread treatment of space within Morrison’s novels – we might also discuss, for example, the clearing in Beloved, or the city in Jazz – and I do not think we should underestimate the importance of such a process. For, while Morrison’s characters may be unable to effectively challenge colonial and neo-colonial practice at the level of the nation of the United States, and indeed the nation itself is rarely mentioned explicitly in her novels, what they can always do is engage with strategies of resistance at these more personal levels. In this way, there is always a small, intimate experience of space that signals the potential for survival, the sense in which the African-American spirit is never crushed by violence and restriction, but continues to resist at the most basic levels. We have a reversal of scales here that makes the seemingly smallest space become the largest in terms of its significance, as it becomes the body, the home, or personal movement – and not the nation – that is the space where negotiations of power are ultimately played out. Of course, Morrison’s treatment of space raises many questions, most notably whether her positive visions fail to fully account for the power of larger spaces such as the nation, and the difficulty of forming any personal response in the wake of official discourses of power. Moreover, while a novel such as Paradise helps us to envisage how such assertion of the self may envelop a whole community, it is difficult to know how such action might succeed when traditional resistance movements have failed. Rather it seems that they may only serve as a precursor to such movements, strategies that keep the individual spirit alive to be ready for those struggles to change legislation that can ultimately only be conducted at the level of the state or nation. Despite such questions, Morrison’s magical narratives suggest not only that we should place more importance on space, but also the spaces we pay attention to as sites of political deliberation may also be in need of some revision.

Birkbeck College, University of London


[1] Timothy Powell, ‘Postcolonial Theory in an American Context: A Reading of Martin Delany’s Blake’, in The Pre-Occupation of Postcolonial Studies, ed. Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000), 347-365.

[2] Michel Foucault, ‘Of Other Spaces’, Diacritics, Vol. 16, No. 1, 22.

[3] Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990), 18.

[4] Lawrence Grossberg, ‘Space and Globalization in Cultural Studies’, in The Postcolonial Question: Common Skies, Divided Horizons, ed. Iain Chambers and Lidia Curti (London: Routledge, 1995), 179.

[5] Steve Pile and Nigel Thrift, eds, Mapping the Subject: Geographies of Cultural Transformation (London and New York: Routledge, 1995). Marcus Doel, Poststructuralist Geographies: The Diabolical Art of Spatial Science (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999). Edward Soja, Thirdspace (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996); Postmetropolis (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000). David Harvey, Spaces of Hope (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000).

[6] J.K. Noyes, Colonial Space: Spatiality in the Discourse of German South West Africa 1884-1915 (Switzerland: Harwood, 1992), 129.

[7] Colonial Space, 87.

[8] Bill Ashcroft, On Post-Colonial Futures (London and New York: Continuum, 2001).

[9] On Post-Colonial Futures, 73.

[10] On Post-Colonial Futures, 73.

[11] Wilson Harris, Keynote Address, British Braids Conference (Brunel University, 19/04/01).

[12] bell hooks, Yearning (London: Turnaround, 1991), 145.

[13] Yearning, 145.

[14] Yearning, 146.

[15] Yearning, 150.

[16] Wendy Faris, ‘Scheherazade’s Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction’, in Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community, eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy Faris (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995), 174.

[17] Toni Morrison, ‘The Opening Sentences of Beloved’, in Critical Essays on Toni Morrison’s Beloved, ed. Barbara Solomon (New York: G.K. Hall and Co, 1998), 92.

[18] Stephen Slemon, ‘Magic Realism as Postcolonial Discourse’, Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community, eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy Faris (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995), 411.

[19] Toni Morrison, Beloved (London: Vintage, 1997; 1987), 75.

[20] Beloved, 270.

[21] Toni Morrison, Tar Baby (London: Vintage, 1997; 1981), 51.

[22] Tar Baby, 296.

[23] Phyllis Palmer, Domesticity and Dirt: Housewives and Domestic Servants in the United States, 1920-1945 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989), 6.

[24] Domesticity and Dirt, 72.

[25] Tar Baby, 138.

[26] Tar Baby, 138-139.

[27] Tar Baby, 237.

[28] Tar Baby, my emphasis, 40.

[29] Tar Baby, my emphasis, 60.

[30] Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather. Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York and London: Routledge, 1995), 17.

[31] Imperial Leather, 208.

[32] Nathaniel Mackey, Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 164.

[33] See Cynthia Griffin Wolff, ‘ “Margaret Garner”: A Cincinnati Story’, The Massachusetts Review, Vol. 32 (1991), 417-440.

[34] Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), 213.

[35] Beloved, 32.

[36] Beloved, 76.

[37] Jeremy Black, Maps and Politics ( London: Reaktion Books, 1997),134.

[38] Sallie Westwood, and Annie Phizacklea, Trans-nationalism and the Politics of Belonging (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), 16.

[39] Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Using the Master’s Tools: Resistance and Literature of the African and South Asian Diasporas (Hampshire and London: Macmillan, 2000), 53.

[40] Using the Master’s Tools, 61.

[41] Beloved, 274.

[42] Beloved, 100.

[43] Beloved, 274.

[44] Beloved, 211,213.

[45] Beloved, 274 etc.

[46] Beloved, 275.

[47] Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (Hertfordshire: Triad/Panther, 1980; 1977), 222.

[48] Song of Solomon, 222.

[49] Song of Solomon, 230.

[50] Song of Solomon, 260.

[51] Song of Solomon, 287.

[52] Song of Solomon, 321-322.

[53] Song of Solomon, 15.

[54] Song of Solomon, 293.

[55] Ronald Segal, The Black Diaspora: Five Centuries of the Black Experience Outside Africa (New York: Noonday, 1995), 68.

[56] Song of Solomon, 6.

[57] Song of Solomon, 277.

[58] Beloved, 110.

[59] Wilson Harris, ‘History, Fable and Myth in the Caribbean and Guianas’, Selected Essays of Wilson Harris: The Unfinished Genesis of the Imagination, ed. Andrew Bundy (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 157. It should be noted that the folding of space in 124 Bluestone Road may also be equated with such a practice, as it too again involves a folding of space: interestingly, one that brings us back to the slave experience in which Harris bases his theory.

[60] Katharina Gutmann, Celebrating the Senses: An Analysis of the Sensual in Toni Morrison’s Fiction (Tubingen: Francke, 2000), 45.

[61] Toni Morrison, Paradise (London: Vintage, 1999), 194.

[62] Paradise, 263.

[63] Paradise, 264.

[64] Paradise, 265.

[65] Paradise, 292.

[66] Paradise, 296.

[67] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, (London: Athlone, 1988), 157.

[68] Marcus Doel, Poststructuralist Geographies: The Diabolical Art of Spatial Science, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 3.

[69] Poststructuralist Geographies, 133.

[70] Poststructuralist Geographies, 11.