Em/bodying Resistance in Jamaica Kincaid’s The Autobiography of My Mother

Document Type : Original Article


1 The Private University of Tunis

2 University of Manouba


The article deals with the imbrication between memory and narrative in Jamaica Kincaid’s The Autobiography of my Mother, an aesthetically disjunctive and thematically complicated novel. The book develops a number of tropes and themes that are peculiar to Caribbean experience, such as race, gender and class problematic. The theme of exile and the history of abuse are also present. Through repositioning the subaltern as a privileged cultural subject and the borderland as a creative site, the book succeeds to build up a discourse of opposition and couterknowledge. It creates powerful images with a highly metaphorical language, fluid temporality and hybridized genre. It can be examined from postcolonial, psychoanalytical and postmodern perspectives. First, I refer to Cathy Caruth’s expansion of the study of trauma from psychoanalysis to the fields of history, sociology, and fiction, and to many other postcolonial theorists’ views about the subaltern’s position such as Homi Bhabha, Abdul Jan Mohamed, and Spivak. Second, I analyse the narrator’s psyche and her relation to the body through the lenses of Freud, Lacan and feminist writers such as Kristeva and Cixous. Third, I give emphasis to the book’s experimentation with form and recourse to postmodern strategies, chief among them are fragmentation, the stream of consciousness technique and open-endedness.