Liberal Multiculturalism and the Limits of Recognition in Caryl Phillips's The Nature of Blood

Tye Evan Landels

Abstract


In recent years, critics of Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood (1997) seem to have developed a consensus that the novel presents a cosmopolitan view of diasporic identity. While I agree with these critics, I believe that their “cosmopolitan theses” have yet to articulate why Phillips chooses to present a cosmopolitan view of diasporic identity. To this end, I shall argue that, in The Nature of Blood, Phillips’s cosmopolitanism emerges as a conscious response to the failure of multiculturalism to recognize what Robin Cohen (2008) calls “victim diasporas” in liberal states. Phillips suggests that, for diasporic groups who have suffered a history of collective trauma, a cosmopolitan view of cultural identity, which draws upon histories of shared experiences and morality across cultures, is far more tenable than an essentialist view of cultural identity.

Full Text:

PDF

References


Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. Print.

Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas: An Introduction. 2nd. ed. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. London: Bloomsbury, 2013. Print.

George, Gils M. “Polyphonic Voices of Survival: Diaspora in Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood.” Language in India 14.4 (2014): 577-578. Web. 03 November 2014.

Glissant, Édouard. Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbror: U of Michigan P, 1997. Print.

Little, Bliss S., and Benjamin J. Broome. “Diaspora.” The Encyclopedia of Identity. Ed. Ronald L. Jackson II and Michael A. Hogg. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2010. 221-226. Print.

McCluskey, Alan Liam. “Estrangement, Empathetic Failure, and the Provocation of a Critical Cosmopolitan Vision in Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 49.2 (2014): 215-228. Web. 03 November 2014.

Phillips, Caryl. The Nature of Blood. New York: Vintage Books, 1997. Print.

Smethurst, Paul. “Postmodern Blackness and Ubelonging in the Works of Caryl Phillips.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 37.2 (2002): 5-20. Web. 03 November 2014.

Taylor, Charles. “The Politics of Recognition.” Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Ed. Amy Gutmann. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. 25-73. Print.

Walcott, Derek. The Antilles: Fragments of an Epic Memory. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1993. Print.






EISSN  1927-4599
University of Victoria