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Borders and Ecotones in the Indian Ocean

 | 
Markus Arnold
, 
Corinne Duboin
, 
Judith Misrahi-Barak

III—Here, There and Across: the Macro and the Micro Ecotone

(Trans-)Archipelagic Modes of Publishing Indian Ocean and Caribbean Multilingual Ecologies

Laëtitia Saint-Loubert

Résumé

Whilst transversal and transoceanic theoretical frameworks have emerged from various academic spheres in the last decades and paved the way to rich and varied (non-)Western modalities of understanding and re-assessing postcolonial literatures, when it comes to the scrutiny of the actual circulation and diffusion of so-called ‘minor’ literatures, particularly in translation, little has been done beyond strictly textual analyses or national, at times regional, approaches to publishing strategies. This paper aims to initiate a dialogue between transversal models of circulation observed in the context of Indian Ocean and Caribbean literatures. It will investigate (trans)local publishing initiatives in an attempt to signal alternative pathways to a planetary ecosystem that chiefly relies on a ‘capitalist world-ecology’ (Campbell & Niblett, 2016) and will focus, instead, on archipelagic modes of literary circulation. To do so, the paper will present data collected from in-situ research conducted with publishers, writers and (self-)translators based in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. Seeking to show how publishing initiatives articulated around island ecologies can help us rethink book markets in terms of ecotones, this contribution will ultimately address the question of translation, conceived as an inter/intra-linguistic practice as well as a series of archipelagic crossings, to see whether new coordinates can be generated for sustainable transoceanic solidarities. Glissant’s notion of the ‘inter-dit’ in particular will be helpful to gauge the extent to which Indian Ocean and Caribbean multilingual realities can be transmitted and altogether preserved, originating as they do in fragile environments subject to contingencies and colonial legacies.

Texte intégral

1This article builds on a research project originally conducted in Puerto Rico in 2016, before hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall in the Caribbean.1 The project aimed to investigate transversal modes of literary circulation for Caribbean literatures and took as its primary case study Isla Negra Editores, an independent publisher based in the metro area of San Juan that advocates an alternative, pan-Caribbean approach to literature, not simply in terms of the titles and material it publishes, but also through its ongoing collaboration with publishers, printers, writers, translators and designers from other parts of the Caribbean.2 Drawing from this initial work, the article seeks to further investigate publishing initiatives originating in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean that complicate a vertical reading of literary traffic traditionally based on a core-periphery paradigm. As such, it will focus on interconnected, lateral modes of transmission, examining island ecologies and their multilingual realities.3 Both archipelagos will be studied from the perspective of translation, understood as a linguistic transfer that entails cultural, intra and inter-textual shifts and negotiations, but also as a transcultural phenomenon that implies geographical crossings from one island to another and, in some instances, transoceanic crossovers.

  • 4 ‘The transnational, on the contrary, can be conceived as a space of exchange and participation whe (...)
  • 5 Gisèle Sapiro speaks of the ‘contradictions’ of globalisation in that context. See Sapiro, Gisèle, (...)
  • 6 I wish to distinguish archipelagic publishing from regional publishing here, highlighting the pres (...)
  • 7 Campbell, Chris and Niblett, Michael. The Caribbean: Aesthetics, World Ecology, Politics. Liverpoo (...)
  • 8 Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. M. B. DeBevoise, trans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvar (...)

2If the paper primarily investigates publishing initiatives that contribute to voicing forms of ‘minor transnationalism’4 for and, to a lesser degree, between Caribbean and Indian Ocean literatures, the global geo-political and strategic forces at work in these processes of cultural transfer should not be overlooked, as they are at the heart of transnational literary circulation. Whereas, on the one hand, globalisation cannot be entirely hailed as the driving force of creolisation and hybridity, on the other, it cannot be altogether dismissed as a set of uniform exchanges solely driven by profit-oriented publishers primarily interested in the mass-production of cultural goods.5 Furthermore, when it comes to the specificities of archipelagic publishing,6 which imply certain intra- and inter-regional routes of literary circulation, it should be noted from the start that they remain heavily regulated and impacted by the forces of a ‘capitalist world-ecology’.7 This can be observed in the uneven flow of global literary circulation, characterized by the centripetal pull of the ‘Greenwich meridian’8, and at the level of local retail outlets where archipelagic publishing incentives are visible, yet often cordoned off from ‘mainstream’ literature and relegated to specific sections dedicated to ‘local’ literatures, as the photographs below illustrate.

Figure 1—Reunionese literature in an independent bookstore in Saint Denis de La Réunion.

Figure 1—Reunionese literature in an independent bookstore in Saint Denis de La Réunion.

This photograph shows, in the foreground, a section devoted to Reunionese literature in an independent bookstore in Saint Denis de La Réunion. The larger area devoted to general literature, labeled ‘littérature’, appears in the background. (Librairie Gérard, June 2018, ©Saint-Loubert).

Figure 2—Comorian literature.

Figure 2—Comorian literature.

This photograph shows part of a shelf devoted to Comorian literature that is located opposite the section featuring Reunionese literature, with volumes published by KomEdit in the front row. (Librairie Gérard, June 2018 ©Saint-Loubert).

  • 9 ‘The singular and the specific’ is an allusion to Peter Hallward’s Absolutely Postcolonial: Writin (...)
  • 10 Hence the use of a hyphen and brackets in the title.
  • 11 This paper wishes to distantiate itself from the Darwinian approach adopted by Chinese scholars in (...)
  • 12 The term ‘ecosystemic’ is borrowed from Michael Cronin who defines ‘translation ecology’ as being (...)

3To discuss these issues, the article will start from the concept of the ‘ecotone’, which marks the transition between two ecosystems, to address the complex dynamics of archipelagic routes of literary traffic. Rather than presenting each region as a whole or in its sole interactions with a continental centre, the contribution argues that shifting the angle of analysis to the transitional areas between each part of both archipelagos allows us to focus on the ‘singular and the specific’ to consider the hybrid and composite identities of each area.9 It also gives us the opportunity to consider the difficulties of achieving actual latitudinal publishing initiatives when it comes to trans-oceanic crossings, which would imply flows between one archipelago and another that are not mediated by any metropolis.10 Not least, thinking from the perspective of the ‘ecotone’ gives us further and perhaps necessary insight into the concepts of vulnerability and resilience which need to be considered when investigating publishing methodologies that face specific challenges due to their geographical, historical, economic and socio-cultural realities. Bearing in mind these considerations, the paper will identify four cases of archipelagic publishing observed in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. First, the paper will present local and trans-local responses to archipelagic challenges before it addresses more specifically issues of visibility, varying reading modalities and the impact that environmental changes have on the development and preservation of local literary archives. Ultimately, this will lead to a reflection on the role that translation can play in the development of sustainable routes of circulation for trans-pelagic literary circulation, particularly when translation is considered from an ecotonal and ecological perspective.11 The main concern here is to examine the extent to which translation from and into minoritized languages spoken in the Caribbean and in the Indian Ocean can participate in the preservation of these multilingual landscapes and help us identify alternative, ‘ecosystemic’ flows of circulation that complicate vertical, North-South routes of literary traffic observed on a transnational scale.12

  • 13 I wish to express my gratitude to the publishers, bookstore owners and translators who accepted to (...)
  • 14 Where relevant, references to established, independent publishers specialised in Caribbean or Indi (...)
  • 15 It should be noted that these publishers have had to diversify their original editorial practices (...)

4Among the various cultural agents involved in the production and subsequent marketisation of literature that have been investigated and/or interviewed as part of this research, four publishing outlets have been selected for the purpose of this contribution.13 Two of them are based in the Caribbean: House of Nehesi Publishers (henceforth HNP), Philipsburg, St Martin, and Isla Negra Editores (henceforth Isla Negra), San Juan, Puerto Rico. The other two, ARS Terres Créoles and KomEdit, are respectively located in Moroni, Njazidja (Grande Comore) and Le Chaudron, La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean.14 All four publishers are established or relatively well-established structures that benefit from a certain visibility, so that their work and its impact can be assessed over time (they all emerged at or towards the end of the twentieth century, as the table below indicates).15

Publisher Founder and/or current managing editor Year of creation
Isla Negra Editores Carlos Roberto Gómez Beras 1991
House of Nehesi Publishers Jacqueline Sample 1986
ARS Terres Créoles Mario Serviable 1982
KomEdit Mohamed-Ahmed Chamanga 2000
  • 16 For transnational and translational connections between periphery and periphery, see Isla Negra’s (...)
  • 17 For the Caribbean, see Isla Negra’s co-editions with Dominican publisher Editorial Búho and Cuban (...)
  • 18 On this point, HNP takes an active part in the annual organization of the St Martin Bookfair and I (...)
  • 19 See Bernabé, Jean, Chamoiseau, Patrick and Confiant, Raphaël. Éloge de la créolité/ In Praise of C (...)

5All four share similar geographical features—they are based on islands—a criterion that allows us to study the impact that their immediate, fragile environments have on their activities but that also invites us to present them as ‘archipelagic’—rather than strictly speaking ‘insular’ publishers. These publishing structures could in fact be described as trans-local insofar as they are not isolated from the literary scene around them, whether in their respective archipelagos or beyond. Rather, they interact with their surrounding environment and entertain various levels of intra and extra-regional relationships with fellow publishers, printers, designers, bookstore owners, librarians and distributors, which indicates a sense of interrelatedness that, at times, can even completely challenge the ‘predictable’ patterns of the core-periphery model.16 They also display archipelagic characteristics in the sense that they foster inter-island editorial cooperation, through bilateral projects such as co-editions,17 for example, and trans-local solidarity through regular attendance at regional or international literary events, among other incentives.18 Importantly, they all have published across linguistic barriers, acquiring (and occasionally selling) translation rights and/or promoting multilingual publications, a point that will be discussed at greater length further on. When studied alongside one another, these publishers allow us to start remapping literary circulation within an archipelagic context, introducing a trans-oceanic perspective as an alternative to World Literature studies, which often adopt a centripetal approach to global literary circulation. Thinking from the positionality of archipelagic publishers allows us to view literary circulation from a trans-local, decentered perspective that takes into consideration the interplay between space and language, which is key when examining the production and subsequent circulation of so-called ‘minor’ literatures. This is particularly true when focusing on literatures produced and disseminated in Creole and indigenous languages, a point underlined by the proponents of the créolité movement19 and taken up, in turn, by Glissant in La Cohée du Lamentin, in which he presents the concept of the ‘inter-dit’. The term is illustrated in the creole expression ‘Ici-là minm’, which, to Glissant, both insists on the here and now and nowhere else, in other words on the locality and situatedness of language, but also opens into what is there or overthere (‘là-bas, là-haut’), what he calls ‘l’étendue’ and further explains as what is said between and in-between communal languages:

  • 20 Glissant, Édouard. La Cohée du Lamentin. Paris: Gallimard, 2005; 32. [‘The Creole Isila weaves ext (...)

L’Isila créole trame l’étendue, que Deleuze en certains cas appelle surface.
L’Isidan renforce, ou suggère peut-être seulement, la profondeur.
Toutes les langues des peuples travaillent de cette manière humble et discrète, dans le difficile et complexe rapport de l’apparence du monde et de l’inter-dit des langages communautaires.20

  • 21 See Isla Negra’s anthologies Los nuevos caníbales. (Saint-Loubert 2017: 52–53, 56–58).
  • 22 This is exemplified by ARS Terres Créoles through their imprint Mascarin. On their website, ARS Te (...)
  • 23 It should be noted here that the publishers’ respective statuses as either commercial entities (al (...)
  • 24 In that sense, Glissant’s ‘inter-dit’ cannot be separated from certain ‘interdits’ that the concep (...)

6Similarly, the publishers examined here are heard from a specific ‘ici-là minm’, a situated publishing landscape which signals local responses to the local challenges that they face. They also invoke Glissant’s ‘inter-dit’ through their trans-local responses to local and regional challenges. For some, this means building alternative, transnational literary filiations promoting emerging or re-emerging, heretofore silenced voices from the Caribbean.21 For others, this signifies (re)emphasizing and even at times exhuming a substratum of shared creole legacies between islands that are not systematically studied through a comparative lens.22 For most, the ‘inter-dit’ is expressed through their respective forms and levels of activism, which, overall, implies linguistic and cultural diversity, expressed through publications in Caribbean and Indian ocean languages, as well as in European languages. In other words, archipelagic publishing shows incentives that aim towards the legitimation and preservation of the multilingual ecologies of each archipelago.23 That being said, the somewhat optimistic implications suggested by the ‘inter-dit’ should not conceal the bleaker realities of an altogether asymmetrical literary system, particularly when it comes to translation, where cultural gateways and screening processes continue to block certain forms of inter-connectedness.24 One may wonder, for instance, the degree to which these archipelagic publishers actually reach readers beyond their (trans-) local shores. And when they do, how can this be assessed by researchers in such a way that the data collected for individual, island-based publishers can generate alternative mode(l)s of literary circulation beyond the case-specific? Other questions arise too regarding the material challenges faced by these independent structures, not least with respect to increasing environmental and financial crises.

  • 25 During my interview with Mario Serviable on 08 February 2018, he admitted that distribution was di (...)
  • 26 Isla Negra Editores and HNP rely mostly on private investment, sales income and consultancies for t (...)
  • 27 http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20180615/reckord-keeping-calabash-alive#.WyWTyuXa (...)
  • 28 For their 2017 edition, the Salon Athena invited Haitian writer Lyonel Trouillot and organised tra (...)
  • 29 Coelacanthe has its own bookstore that features books also published by L’Harmattan, Komédit and o (...)
  • 30 In a blog entry on Muzdalifa House, Comorian writer Soeuf Elbadawi goes as far as saying that book (...)
  • 31 This is a concern raised in other studies of the region’s literary output. See, for example, Magde (...)

7The issue of legitimation naturally comes to mind for publishers whose visibility remains largely limited to the bounds of their area of diffusion, which often coincides with their geographical location, their linguistic sphere of influence and/or their ties to the (former) colonial power. This is especially true of small publishers who self-distribute their books and for whom diffusion is synonymous with further activism.25 Funding issues can constitute another source of difficulty, even when smaller presses can benefit from occasional state subsidies, as has been the case for KomEdit, for example.26 Kwame Dawes, one of the co-founders of the Calabash biennial literary festival in Jamaica and associate poetry editor at Peepal Tree Press (UK), also observes that sponsorship plays a determining role in the development and perennation of cultural events held in the Caribbean and notes that international recognition of regional incentives ensures future financial backing and stability.27 In turn, these (trans-) local bookfairs and festivals ensure higher visibility for smaller presses and encourages regional cooperation. The biennial bookfairs Salon de la Littérature Jeunesse de l’Océan Indien and Salon Athéna held in La Réunion attest to this point, as they bring together writers, publishers, NGOs and bookselling outlets from various parts of the region and beyond.28 To try and disseminate their works on a larger scale, though, that is both inside and outside their respective archipelagos, the publishers under study all use a combination of traditional and digital publishing methods. This generally entails having an online presence, often a website, which in some cases includes links to an e-commerce platform (HNP) and in others offers the possibility of ordering books directly from the publisher (Isla Negra and ARS Terres Créoles). Structures like KomEdit, however, signal some disparities, as their website is not as up-to-date as the others’ and their catalogue can basically be accessed through websites from partner publishers such as L’Harmattan or Coelacanthe.29 Perhaps, this should remind us that when crossing from one literary ecosystem to another within each region, one should also remain aware of the varying reading modalities of each island and territory. In an email exchange conducted on 28 July 2016, Jean-Louis Malherbe, founder of Ibis Rouge Editions, based in Matoury, Guyane, mentioned, for example, that more than half of bookstores or sellers had disappeared over the last twenty years in Guyane, because they had gone bankrupt. Malherbe also talked about the very low percentage of readers there, a situation that invites a parallel with Haiti or the Comoros, which have also been described as ‘bookless societies’ due to their high illiteracy rates.30 This inevitably poses the problem of the readership actually reached – if not targeted – by these trans-local publishers.31 In fact, Comorian writer Soeuf Elbadawi argues that books can sometimes be experienced as a form of alienation in the Comoros, particularly when they are written in French, which is why he opted for the creation of a blog (Muzdalifa House) to express his views, alongside more traditional forms of publishing.

  • 32 I agree with Helgason, Kärrholm and Steiner here when they argue that ‘[w]ith the rise of online b (...)
  • 33 The cost of printing also varies from one island to another and explains why Isla Negra, for examp (...)
  • 34 Polly Pattullo, founder of Papillotte Press, a publishing house half based in London, half based i (...)
  • 35 See CARBICA’s involvement in post-hurricane recovery projects in Dominica: http://www.carbica.org/ (...)

8Yet, even if the advent of digital publishing and the development of new technologies do give more visibility to small scale publishers,32 I would not go as far as saying that digital publishing is about to take over paper editions any time soon, at least as far as the four publishers here are concerned. For one thing, most of them remain deeply attached to the book as a physical object and lend particular importance to the quality of paper they use, often—although not systematically—working with printers based in the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean in order to promote the local book industry, as Mario Serviable noted during our interview.33 Furthermore, digital publishing might allow archipelagic publishers to reach greater audiences, but it does not necessarily resolve issues of self-sustainability, particularly when it comes to distribution outlets, as most e-commerce platforms still fall under the purview of a handful of media consortia (Carré 2016: 58). In that regard, going global does not necessarily translate into going trans-local, nor does it mean preserving local ecologies. On another level, focusing on environmental changes and their impact on insular publishing raises other issues linked to the present and future of archipelagic literary heritage as well as to the preservation of local archives. In the case of Isla Negra, hurricane Maria had a direct impact on the publisher whose production was interrupted for several weeks on end due to the general power outage in Puerto Rico.34 HNP has not indicated the extent of the damage it suffered from the last hurricane season, but initiatives undertaken by various groups, associations and NGOs such as CARBICA (the Caribbean Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives) or The Dominica Book Barrel Project, to name but a few, suggest that safeguarding the future of local literary archives remains crucial for the legitimation of those voices heard, published and circulated outside the realm of global, mainstream publishing.35 Similarly, when considering a sustainable future for archipelagic publishing, there is another pressing matter for both regions to consider when it comes to building and developing viable routes of trans-pelagic literary circulation, and that is translation.

  • 36 For a more detailed analysis of liminal spaces in the transnational circulation of Caribbean liter (...)
  • 37 See Suchet, Myriam. L’Imaginaire hétérolingue. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014.

9Global and sociological perspectives on the study of literary circulation and translation have time and again underlined the asymmetrical nature of systemic flows, particularly when it comes to the circulation of books on a transnational level–that is across languages. When adopting such perspectives, Caribbean and Indian Ocean literatures still have a long way to go to see their archipelagic voices circulate ‘in translation’, intra-regionally but even more so trans-pelagically, from one archipelago to another, as the paucity of inter-regional translations attests to. When considering translation from an ecotonal perspective though, archipelagic publishing presents us with a much-needed differentiated approach to transnational literary circulation and book-markets. Thinking translation from the ecology of the ecotone implies focusing on the in-between, liminal space that separates two literary ecosystems, and, in turn, on what resists and possibly blocks trans-pelagic circulation. 36 On a textual level, this can be observed in the promotion of linguistic diversity over mono-linguistic tendencies that would consist in smoothing over difference and attempt to erase or transpose the situatedness of a given vernacular. Conversely, as alluded to earlier, archipelagic publishing offers a reverse trend that emphasizes the polyphonic, multivocal specificities of Caribbean and Indian Ocean literatures. This is evidenced in a number of multilingual titles published by HNP that feature an original text alongside its translation(s), or, as is the case with Lasana M. Sekou’s Book of the Dead (2016), that create a ‘heterolingual imaginary’37 to echo archipelagic polyphony, as the blurb from the book cover points out:

  • 38 Sekou, Lasana. Book of the Dead. Philipsburg: House of Nehesi, 2016.

book of the dead risks a new kind of pan-Caribbean poetry. It is not merely that it reaches into the entire region’s space and history. Its verse plays with the whole Caribbean language spectrum: here fragments in Spanish, there across the Afro-English spectrum, to scraps of French, Dutch, Haitian, and Papiamento. Sekou weaves a world of Antillean thought around his anchorage in St. Martin.38

  • 39 Ibid.
  • 40 Field work conducted in November 2018 in Aruba confirmed that books published by HNP did not featu (...)
  • 41 Cronin, Michael. Eco-Translation: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene. London, (...)
  • 42 In the context of Indian Ocean literatures, Peter Hawkins notes the ‘cultural introversion’ of the (...)

10Additional paratextual material indicates that Sekou’s poetry has also been ‘translated into Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Turkish, and Chinese’,39 which places him as an internationally acclaimed Caribbean writer and adds symbolic value to the publisher’s catalogue, which also features canonical writers like Edward Kamau Brathwaite or George Lamming. However, if snippets of Kreyol and Papiamento do pepper Book of the Dead, the publisher’s catalogue does not overtly promote indigenous languages spoken across the Caribbean. This begs the question of the publisher’s impact on the rest of the Dutch Caribbean, in the ABC islands, for instance, where literature is mainly produced in Dutch and Papiamento/u, languages that seem to be absent from the publisher’s catalogue, much in the same way as they tend to be underrepresented in Caribbean Studies.40 If HNP’s particular example indicates that practices of cultural mediation and translation can be envisaged from the archipelagic and the trans-local, it also suggests that, in so doing, the dissemination and preservation of endemic languages might not always be guaranteed. Yet, as Michael Cronin observes in his monograph on Eco-translation, when it comes to (indigenous) languages: ‘[t]he landscape and the tongue become one in a topography of possession and dispossession.’41 In other words, just as digital publishing on its own might not be an answer to the preservation of Caribbean and Indian Ocean literatures, archipelagic diversity might similarly not be safeguarded unless it develops a translation ecology that brings together issues of linguistic and cultural specificity within a rationale of trans-pelagic complementarity, if not continuity.42

  • 43 Nabhane, Mohamed. Mtsamdu Kashkasi Kusi Misri. Moroni: Komédit, 2011.
  • 44 Djailani, Nassuf. Esquisse de mes Haisoratra kibushi. Moroni: Komédit, 2015.
  • 45 E-mail interview conducted with Carole Beckett on June 6, 2018.

11This is where works published by KomEdit come to mind, as it publishes Comorian literature mostly of French expression, but also promotes shiKomori (Comorian) as a written language. This can be observed in their catalogue through works by writers like Mohamed Nabhane, written in Shikomori43, Hassane Bourhane’s novel E nambe! (entirely written and framed with a paratext in Shikomori) or Nassuf Djailani’s collections of poems written in kibushi, a Malagasy dialect spoken in various areas of Mayotte.44 Surely, Mohamed-Ahmed Chamanga’s own profile as a linguist has shaped the ways in which his activities as a publisher have evolved over time. Yet, when going through KomEdit’s catalogue an unexpected bilingual volume of Djailani’s poem Roucoulement also came to our attention. The book features an English translation by South African translator Carole Beckett, who had met with Djailani in South Africa and had decided to translate his poem ‘off her own bat’ as she put it during an interview.45 Interestingly, this example shows that, as young and in-the-making as it may be, Comorian literature shows some attempts to (re)connect with its African roots, while preserving–if not creating–its own literary ecosystem.

  • 46 Peepal Tree Press, Papillote Press, Ibis Rouge or Editions du Manguier come to mind here for Carib (...)
  • 47 Pinhas, Luc. ‘La francophonie face à la globalisation éditoriale: politiques publiques et initiati (...)

12All in all, archipelagic publishing from the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean provides us with complementary, yet understudied, alternatives to the vertical logics of a core-periphery system that chiefly relies on profitability and translatability as a sign of market currency. That being said, transversal modes of literary circulation promoting archipelagic and trans-pelagic routes of circulation for Caribbean and Indian Ocean literatures can also be observed in the mainland.46 It is often inspired by diasporic writers, scholars or translators whose publishing strategies should not be read as counter-trends to the ones presented in this contribution, but alongside them, as they too generate an ‘inter-dit’ directed towards ‘bibliodiversity’47. If, for the time being, cases of inter-island, cross-oceanic translations remain too few and far between for us to speak of a viable, sustainable model of trans-pelagic solidarities, thinking and translating from the ecotone certainly encourages us to rethink vulnerability as the unexpected expression of resilience.

Bibliographie

Bernabé, Jean, Chamoiseau, Patrick and Confiant, Raphaël. Éloge de la créolité/ In Praise of Creoleness. Bilingual ed. trans. by M. B. Taleb-Khyar. Paris: Gallimard, 1993.

Campbell, Chris and Niblett, Michael. The Caribbean: Aesthetics, World Ecology, Politics. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016.

Carré, Nathalie. ‘From Local to Global: New Paths for Publishing in Africa’, in Wasafiri, 31, 4 (December 2016): 56–62.

Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. M. B. DeBevoise, trans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Cronin, Michael. Eco-Translation: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene. London, New York: Routledge, 2017.

Djailani, Nassuf. Esquisse de mes Haisoratra kibushi. Moroni: Komédit, 2015.

Glissant, Édouard. La Cohée du Lamentin. Paris: Gallimard, 2005.

Glissant, Édouard. Poetics of Relation. B. Wing, trans. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2010.

Helgason, Jon, Kärrholm, Sara and Steiner, Ann, eds. Hype: Bestsellers and Literary Culture. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2014.

Ippolito, Christophe, ‘Résistance Culturelle aux Comores : Soeuf Elbadawi et le blog de Muzdalifa House’, in Les Littératures francophones de l’archipel des Comores, Buata B. Malela, Linda Rasoamanana and Rémi A. Tchokothe, eds. Paris : Classiques Garnier, 2017, 211-226.

Lionnet, Françoise, and Shih, Shu-Mei, eds. Minor Transnationalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Magdelaine-Andrianjafitrimo, Valérie. ‘Translations, déplacements et transferts interculturels : ce que les bruissements des mémoires font aux littératures de la Réunion’, in Translating the Postcolonial in Multilingual Contexts, Judith Misrahi-Barak and Srilata Ravi, eds. Montpellier : Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2017; 71–94.

Nabhane, Mohamed. Mtsamdu Kashkasi Kusi Misri. Moroni : Komédit, 2011.

Pinhas, Luc. ‘La francophonie face à la globalisation éditoriale : politiques publiques et initiatives privées’, in Les contradictions de la globalisation éditoriale. Gisèle Sapiro, ed. Paris: Nouveau Monde éditions, 2009; 117–129.

Saint-Loubert, Laëtitia. ‘Publishing against the tide: Isla Negra Editores, an example of pan-Caribbean transL/National solidarity’. Mutatis Mutandis, La traducción literaria en el Gran Caribe, 10, 1 (2017): 46–69.

Saint-Loubert, Laëtitia. Translating the Caribbean: Remapping Thresholds of Dislocation. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2020.

Sapiro, Gisèle, ed. Les Contradictions de la globalisation éditoriale. Paris: Nouveau Monde éditions, 2009.

Sekou, Lasana. Book of the Dead. Philipsburg: House of Nehesi, 2016.

Suchet, Myriam. L’Imaginaire hétérolingue. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014.

Notes

1 See Saint-Loubert, Laëtitia. ‘Publishing against the tide: Isla Negra Editores, an example of pan-Caribbean transL/National solidarity’. Mutatis Mutandis, La traducción literaria en el Gran Caribe, 10, 1 (2017): 46–69.

2 http://editorialislanegra.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=138 Accessed on June 05, 2018.

3 In this contribution, multilingualism is understood as the co-presence of various languages within an insular space or a literary text.

4 ‘The transnational, on the contrary, can be conceived as a space of exchange and participation wherever processes of hybridization occur and where it is still possible for cultures to be produced and performed without necessary mediation by the center’. Lionnet, Françoise, and Shih, Shu-Mei, eds. Minor Transnationalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005; 5.

5 Gisèle Sapiro speaks of the ‘contradictions’ of globalisation in that context. See Sapiro, Gisèle, ed. Les contradictions de la globalisation éditoriale. Paris: Nouveau Monde éditions, 2009; 8.

6 I wish to distinguish archipelagic publishing from regional publishing here, highlighting the presence of various transitional zones or ecotones in the former, which at once allows us to recognize trans-insular connections and account for potential discontinuities and ruptures in inter-island exchanges, whilst the latter suggests a homogeneity that belies Caribbean and Indian Ocean intricate realities.

7 Campbell, Chris and Niblett, Michael. The Caribbean: Aesthetics, World Ecology, Politics. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016.

8 Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. M. B. DeBevoise, trans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004.

9 ‘The singular and the specific’ is an allusion to Peter Hallward’s Absolutely Postcolonial: Writing between the Singular and the Specific. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001.

10 Hence the use of a hyphen and brackets in the title.

11 This paper wishes to distantiate itself from the Darwinian approach adopted by Chinese scholars in their development of an eco-translatology. It privileges instead a Glissantian approach to both island and world ecology.

12 The term ‘ecosystemic’ is borrowed from Michael Cronin who defines ‘translation ecology’ as being originally concerned with ‘the role of translation in giving minority language speakers control over what, when and how texts might be translated into or out of their languages.’ Cronin, Michael. Eco-Translation: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene. London, New York: Routledge, 2017; 2.

13 I wish to express my gratitude to the publishers, bookstore owners and translators who accepted to be interviewed for this project, either in person or by email, and to thank them for their time, generosity and for the transparence of our exchanges.

14 Where relevant, references to established, independent publishers specialised in Caribbean or Indian Ocean literatures based elsewhere—chiefly in mainland Europe for this contribution—will be made in an attempt to generate further crosscurrent connections beyond the continental/insular divide.

15 It should be noted that these publishers have had to diversify their original editorial practices over time, their catalogues tapping at times into non-fiction and other areas of focalization (academic publishing, consultancy, children’s books. . .) in order to remain economically viable and reach higher visibility (most often achieved through an online presence).

16 For transnational and translational connections between periphery and periphery, see Isla Negra’s ‘unpredictable’ presence in Eastern Europe and, in turn, their role as facilitating agent for the introduction of Hungarian poetry in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean (Saint-Loubert 2017: 63–65).

17 For the Caribbean, see Isla Negra’s co-editions with Dominican publisher Editorial Búho and Cuban publisher Ediciones Unión, particularly with respect to pan-Caribbean anthologies in which Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cuban literatures are brought together. For the Indian Ocean, see some of ARS Terres Créoles’s past co-editions with the Editions de l’Océan Indien or their more recent involvement with the Alliance Française in Rodrigues through an exhibition mounted there.

18 On this point, HNP takes an active part in the annual organization of the St Martin Bookfair and Isla Negra is regularly celebrated in local media for its regular involvement in bookfairs such as the Santo Domingo or Habana Feria Internacional del Libro, and more recently for its participation in the fifth Congrès International des Ecrivains de la Caraïbe held at the Mémorial ACTe, in Guadeloupe. It has also been invited twice at the Frankfurt Buchmesse.

19 See Bernabé, Jean, Chamoiseau, Patrick and Confiant, Raphaël. Éloge de la créolité/ In Praise of Creoleness. Bilingual ed. trans. by M. B. Taleb-Khyar. Paris: Gallimard, 1993.

20 Glissant, Édouard. La Cohée du Lamentin. Paris: Gallimard, 2005; 32. [‘The Creole Isila weaves extension, which Deleuze sometimes refers to as surface. The Isidan reinforces, or perhaps only suggests, depth. All the peoples’ use-languages* work in this humble and discreet fashion, in the difficult and complex movement between the appearance of the world and the inter-dit of communal voice-languages*.’ My translation, with terms followed by an asterisk borrowed from Betsy Wing’s translation of Glissant’s Poetics of Relation (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2010), 220]

21 See Isla Negra’s anthologies Los nuevos caníbales. (Saint-Loubert 2017: 52–53, 56–58).

22 This is exemplified by ARS Terres Créoles through their imprint Mascarin. On their website, ARS Terres Créoles also presents their initial agenda as follows: ‘Son objectif initial était de mieux faire connaître l’héritage créole commun entre les Seychelles et la Réunion, issu d’une même histoire et que les aléas de la colonisation (anglaise pour les Seychelles et française pour la Réunion) avaient estompé.’ [‘Its original purpose was to lend higher visibility to the Creole heritage that the Seychelles and Reunion share, a heritage born out of a similar history and that the vagaries of colonization (by the British for the Seychelles and by the French for Reunion) had blurred.’ My translation] http://www.arstc.re/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13&Itemid=14 Accessed on June 11, 2018.

23 It should be noted here that the publishers’ respective statuses as either commercial entities (albeit when they are independent) or associations, as is the case for ARS Terres Créoles, guides their editorial lines and impacts their linguistic choices.

24 In that sense, Glissant’s ‘inter-dit’ cannot be separated from certain ‘interdits’ that the concept of the ecotone also helps highlight through the inevitable ruptures and fault lines involved in the crossing of ecotones. In the book-publishing industry, this is particularly striking with distribution rights.

25 During my interview with Mario Serviable on 08 February 2018, he admitted that distribution was difficult for ARS Terres Créoles, as members of the association self-distribute the books they publish, which implies additional forms of activism (‘diffusion difficile car militante’).

26 Isla Negra Editores and HNP rely mostly on private investment, sales income and consultancies for their part. As for ARS Terres Créoles, they also generate revenue through punctual publications for third-parties.

27 http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/entertainment/20180615/reckord-keeping-calabash-alive#.WyWTyuXaPpx.twitter Accessed on June 17, 2018.

28 For their 2017 edition, the Salon Athena invited Haitian writer Lyonel Trouillot and organised trans-pelagic exchanges on creolization through roundtables featuring writers, publishers and scholars from the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean.

29 Coelacanthe has its own bookstore that features books also published by L’Harmattan, Komédit and other publishers specialized in Comorian writing.

30 In a blog entry on Muzdalifa House, Comorian writer Soeuf Elbadawi goes as far as saying that books can symbolize a form of alienation (‘vécu comme objet d’aliénation’), whereas a blog entry can be accessed for free and read by all. See Ippolito Christophe, ‘Résistance Culturelle aux Comores: Soeuf Elbadawi et le blog de Muzdalifa House’, in Les littératures francophones de l’archipel des Comores, Buata B. Malela, Linda Rasoamanana and Rémi A. Tchokothe, eds. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2017, 211–226; 211.

31 This is a concern raised in other studies of the region’s literary output. See, for example, Magdelaine-Andrianjafitrimo, Valérie. ‘Translations, déplacements et transferts interculturels : ce que les bruissements des mémoires font aux littératures de la Réunion’, in Translating the Postcolonial in Multilingual Contexts, Judith Misrahi-Barak and Srilata Ravi, eds. Montpellier: Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2017; 71–94; 92.

32 I agree with Helgason, Kärrholm and Steiner here when they argue that ‘[w]ith the rise of online booksellers, e-books, and other kinds of technologies to disseminate texts, the borders between countries and regions have dissolved.’ Helgason, Jon, Kärrholm, Sara and Steiner, Ann, eds. Hype: Bestsellers and Literary Culture. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2014; 21. I would however add that varying degrees of visibility and access to information continue to apply when it comes to publishers from the global South, even when they have a (relative) presence on the web.

33 The cost of printing also varies from one island to another and explains why Isla Negra, for example, has some of their books printed in the Dominican Republic. On the cost of paper and its prohibitive effect on local publishing in an African context, see Carré, Nathalie. ‘From Local to Global: New Paths for Publishing in Africa’, in Wasafiri, 31, 4 (December 2016): 56–62; 57.

34 Polly Pattullo, founder of Papillotte Press, a publishing house half based in London, half based in Trafalgar, Dominica, also suffered delays in the production of two of her books as well as minor material damage due to hurricane Maria. During an interview, Pattullo also mentioned the devastating effect of the hurricane on local libraries, some of which need to be completely rebuilt (interview conducted on July, 05 2018 at the 42nd annual Society for Caribbean Studies conference held at the University of London).

35 See CARBICA’s involvement in post-hurricane recovery projects in Dominica: http://www.carbica.org/News/Latest/Caribbean-Archives-Association-pro.aspx  Accessed on June 11, 2018. Also see the post-Maria Dominica Book Barrel Project, at the initiative of Goldsmith University, London: https://dominicabookbarrelproject.wordpress.com/ Accessed on September 05, 2018.

36 For a more detailed analysis of liminal spaces in the transnational circulation of Caribbean literatures in translation, see Saint-Loubert, Laëtitia. Translating the Caribbean: Remapping Thresholds of Dislocation. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2020.

37 See Suchet, Myriam. L’Imaginaire hétérolingue. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014.

38 Sekou, Lasana. Book of the Dead. Philipsburg: House of Nehesi, 2016.

39 Ibid.

40 Field work conducted in November 2018 in Aruba confirmed that books published by HNP did not feature prominently in local bookstores Plaza Bookshop and DeWit & VanDorp, both located in the capital city Oranjestad.

41 Cronin, Michael. Eco-Translation: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene. London, New York: Routledge, 2017; 123.

42 In the context of Indian Ocean literatures, Peter Hawkins notes the ‘cultural introversion’ of the region, suggesting that it is due to its lack of visibility outside and even inside the realm of francophonie. See Hawkins, Peter. The Other Hybrid Archipelago: an Introduction to the Literatures and Cultures of the Francophone Indian Ocean. Lanham, MD & Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2007. Yet, when considering these works beyond the francophone, unexpected forms of ‘minor transnationalism’ can occur through acts of translation, as the German translation of Axel Gauvin’s L’Aimé (Wenn du aufwachst, bin ich da, by Giovanna Waeckerlin-Induni, published in 1997 by Peter Hammer Verlag) shows, for example. While the author’s work remains, as far as my investigations have shown, untranslated into English, it has nevertheless circulated beyond the francophone/creolophone nexus.

43 Nabhane, Mohamed. Mtsamdu Kashkasi Kusi Misri. Moroni: Komédit, 2011.

44 Djailani, Nassuf. Esquisse de mes Haisoratra kibushi. Moroni: Komédit, 2015.

45 E-mail interview conducted with Carole Beckett on June 6, 2018.

46 Peepal Tree Press, Papillote Press, Ibis Rouge or Editions du Manguier come to mind here for Caribbean writing, while Editions K’A or Coelacanthe, to name but a few, come to mind when it comes to Indian Ocean literatures.

47 Pinhas, Luc. ‘La francophonie face à la globalisation éditoriale: politiques publiques et initiatives privées’, in Les contradictions de la globalisation éditoriale. Gisèle Sapiro, ed. Paris: Nouveau Monde éditions, 2009; 117–129; 119.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1—Reunionese literature in an independent bookstore in Saint Denis de La Réunion.
Légende This photograph shows, in the foreground, a section devoted to Reunionese literature in an independent bookstore in Saint Denis de La Réunion. The larger area devoted to general literature, labeled ‘littérature’, appears in the background. (Librairie Gérard, June 2018, ©Saint-Loubert).
URL http://books.openedition.org/pulm/docannexe/image/6887/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Figure 2—Comorian literature.
Légende This photograph shows part of a shelf devoted to Comorian literature that is located opposite the section featuring Reunionese literature, with volumes published by KomEdit in the front row. (Librairie Gérard, June 2018 ©Saint-Loubert).
URL http://books.openedition.org/pulm/docannexe/image/6887/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,0M

Auteur

Laëtitia Saint-Loubert is an early career researcher in Caribbean and Translation Studies. She completed a PhD in Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick in 2018 and is currently working at the Université de La Réunion (DIRE), in addition to being a literary translator. Her research investigates Caribbean literature in translation and addresses more specifically issues related to transversal, non-vertical modes of circulation for Caribbean literatures and languages inside and outside the region, as well as trans-pelagically.

© Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2020

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