The Individual at the End of Time, and Paths Beyond
Cornell University, US
Laura Caicedo is a first year Ph.D. student in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell University. Their research focuses on and integrates contemporary Latinx literature and culture, performance studies, and queer theory.
Ana-Mauríne Lara’s Erzulíe’s Skirt, a contemporary novel set in the Dominican Republic which follows the lives of multiple generations of women, constantly moves between and outside of borders, whether they be geopolitical, temporal, or in narrative form. Just as well, Rita Indiana’s Tentacle, a speculative novel also set in the Dominican Republic, challenges borders through the story of its main protagonist and his struggles with spirits, queerness, and the politics of a dying world. Both novels utilize the environment as a grounding force that provides insight into the respective trials the characters face, both within the scope of the orishas’ continued presence as both spirits and representatives of the land and water which informs much of the narratives, and the spatiotemporal politics of the Dominican Republic. Through the machinations of the spirits who guide the characters in both novels, and the consistent engagement with questions of family, queer lifeworlds, and time, Lara and Indiana demonstrate the interconnectedness of borders, environments, and time to varying ends. By providing narratives which begin to map out worlds beyond death, be they ends or beginnings, the authors contend with the violences of the past in ways that point to the potentialities of the future. What these futures look like, as Tentacle and Erzulie’s Skirt tell us, ultimately rely on the limitations or unboundedness of our imaginations.