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Date of Award

9-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

S. O'Brien

Language

English

Abstract

European territorial expansion was based on the commodification and exploitation of non-European peoples and environments. Colonial domination was naturalized by a discourse that denigrated or erased the culture of colonized people. Plantation agriculture and scientific botanical gardens were deeply implicated in maintaining economic, political and cultural control in the colonies. In My Garden (Book), Gardening in the Tropics, and In Another Place, Not Here, Jamaica Kincaid, Olive Senior and Dionne Brand, respectively, re-imagine the Caribbean garden not as a site of subjugation, but as a space from which to reclaim their bodies, their landscape, and their culture. They form a collaborative relationship with the Caribbean nature to recuperate the (re)productive power of their bodies and establish their economic independence from colonial and neo-colonial oppressors. Through their particular, often secret understanding ofthe nature of this region, the Caribbean gardeners are able to form authentic connections to this landscape and recover a sense of belonging to place. The gardeners in these texts also use their knowledge of the Caribbean environment to challenge the discursive control of the colonizer. By gardening, and writing about gardening, Kincaid, Senior and Brand mount a creative resistance to the artificial division between nature and culture on which the colonial project is founded. Their texts recreate the Caribbean landscape according to their lived experiences, and the gardens created by these writers become texts that oppose the objectification and containment ofthe Caribbean people and environment in the language of the colonial discourse. Through their labours in the garden, Kincaid, Senior and Brand recover their creative agency and affirm their identity as Caribbean women.

McMaster University Library