Tag Archives: Texaco

Parkour and De Gualle

12 Apr

When De Gualle comes to visit Martinique, Marie-Sophie runs after him through a stampede, foolishly thinking she’s going to invite him to her home for dinner.  She and a new acquaintance, Arcadius, end up chasing after De Gualle throughout the city:

We spend the day chasing De Gualle through City.  We went down long detours to cross his path…Arcadius rushed me down a strange shortcut to rejoin him at a so-called geometric point.  But each time he was elsewhere…at city hall…at the prefecture…at the cathedral…(331)

Although Marie-Sophie and Arcadius are not practicing parkour per se, they are certainly rushing through City as only they, as marginalized citizens, can, with their knowledge of City’s underpinnings and secret ways.  In “Light Reading: Public Utility, Urban Fiction, and Human Rights,” Michael D. Rubenstein connects the movement of parkour to the recognition of social existence in the bidonvilles of large francophone cities, as described in Texaco.  It’s an interesting connection–one I don’t think Rubenstein makes entirely convincingly–in part because Rubenstein describes parkour as movement of fleeing, rather than chasing:  “the traceur is generally running for his life, from authorities of some kind, often enough the police” (33).  In this scene in Texaco, however, Marie-Sophie and Arcadius are chasing something (as, in fact, the seekers of electricity Rubenstein discusses are as well).

What they are chasing, however, is never accessible, because De Gualle, symbol to the characters in the novel of the benevolent motherland, potential savior (to Marie-Sophie) of Texaco, is always elsewhere.  And that elsewhere is always a building of the ruling hegemony, the power structure–the government or a house of religion.  Although Marie-Sophie may know everything about the underpinnings and secret ways of City, she knows nothing of and cannot access these institutions of power, just as De Gualle can only know those institutions.  

Interestingly, in the mob scene/ stampede before Marie-Sophie meets Arcadius, the way in which she fights through the crowd could be viewed as a kind of parkour as well, from the way in which it’s described:  “…I howled with despair, leaping like a goat, insulting, knocking, beating, jumping, landing on heads…I began to run on four legs underneath…I ran in every direction” (330).  Marie-Sophie goes over, under, and through the crowd, navigating the mass of people in the same way she navigates City with Arcadius.  

While none of this is particularly insightful, nor actually parkour, these scenes in Texaco helped me better appreciate Rubenstein’s connections between movement and the search for (electricity as) social acceptance.  Both describe alternative ways of moving through a constructed landscape and highlight both exclusion and creative, productive ways of  navigating socio-physical spaces.


A New Kind of Survival Narrative

12 Apr

In Texaco, Chamoiseau spins a narrative of survival from a framework of death and destruction, and in the process proposes a new kind of survival of a people that is divorced from concepts of procreation and Judeo-Christian ideals.

 There are few ways in which he does this, but one that I find to be particularly interesting is the way in which he uses Biblical juxtaposition to turn Marie-Sophie into an activist for survival. Though the Biblical allegory is thick and convoluted throughout the novel, I think a direct case can be made that Esternome and Idomene are reminiscent of Sarah and Abraham, who had a child at 90 something and 100 (respectively). God promised them that this child, Isaac, would be the patriarch of all of Israel and populate the promised land. In this way, I think that Chamoiseau is aligning Marie-Sophie and Isaac so as to make her denial of procreative survival even more obvious.  

 Probably the most obvious way that Chamoiseau contrasts Marie-Sophie and Isaac is through her multiple abortions. While Isaac is literally the life-blood of Israel, basing his patriarchy purely the seed of his loins, Marie-Sophie violently denies herself the ability to have children. Even when she wishes to later in the novel it is clear that this is a non-starter – it is always for the sake of men who disappear or die fairly quickly thereafter. It is also interesting to note the violence that she perpetrates against men’s genitals. Though it happens quite frequently, the violent acts are very specifically focused not on the phallus but on the testicles. This again drives home Marie-Sophie’s directed violence against reproduction.

 By equating Marie-Sophie with Isaac but divorcing the concept of survival of a people from procreation, Chamoiseau is proposing a very different kind of survival narrative than that of the people of Israel. Though Marie-Sophie is Isaac by birth, she is more Moses in action. With Texaco, she proves that the survival of a people is based not in simply literal “survival” – procreation – but through the action of carving out a physical space in which those people can survive. We can see this manifested also in smaller details in the book, as almost as often as Marie-Sophie is forcibly divorced from the concept of reproduction, she is aligned with the concept of creating physical space. She is constantly being thrown into situations in which carving out her own space in which to live safely (for example, in Alcibiade’s home) is critical to her happiness, but also to her ability to continue the narrative.

 This aligns with many of the theories and literature that we have read thus far this semester – I am thinking especially right now of Oil on Water and Sweet Crude. There are persistent undertones throughout these works which show that creating a physical space in which to live is key to not just the prosperity, but the continued existence of a community. By very pointedly separating Marie-Sophie’s survival narrative from reproductive survival, Chamoiseau emphasizes the urgency of this mission to re-claim physical space as a means for existence of a people. 

The Vulnerability of Concrete

11 Apr

I find Priyanka’s post on Chamoiseau’s argument for Relation very useful, especially when describing the relation between the country, Texaco, and City.  If City represents life, then the final age of Texaco’s history – the “Age of Concrete” – is “the definite sign of a step forward in life” (356).  Even though concrete incorporates some of the life and comfort of City into Texaco and makes the hutches more stable, Texaco retains a vulnerable relationship with City.  Marie-Sophie describes the growing vulnerability of material loss that coexists with the establishment of immobile modern comforts like concrete when she observes that “with our homes built in concrete we began to feel the need for certainties and for conveniences which, strangely enough, we would sorely miss all the sudden” (365).

The relationship Marie-Sophie describes is not just a dichotomy between urban and rural or the urban and the slums, but a multidirectional flow of people, ideas, and materials.  For example, we talked about the symbiotic relationship between City and the Quarters in class, where the clean modernity of City depends on its displaced victims in the Quarters to perform City’s dirty and menial jobs.  Simultaneously, the displaced in the Quarters rely on the trash and jobs of City in order to survive.  However, the role of concrete – and the other waste products of City and its previous manifestations (i.e. the sugarcane plantations and the sugar factories) – in this City/Quarter Relation seems to counteract this multidirectionality.  The description of the Age of Concrete in the timeline at the beginning of the book indicates a linear flow of influence from City to Texaco “as the fall of economic production inaugurates the reign of the city, glorious concrete transforms shacks into villas” (6).  In this ‘historical’ summary, the city’s concrete transforms the shacks of the Quarters “into villas,” but the Quarters have no influence on the city.  Returning to the theme of vulnerability, concrete ultimately makes Texaco more vulnerable to City, especially after City begins bulldozing unrecognized Quarters around Fort-de-France.  Marie-Sophie again tells the Urban Planner, “And we began, in deathly anguish, to wait our turn – having suddenly understood that despite the concrete our Texaco remained a fragile embryo” (369).  Whereas with hutches made of mobile materials like straw, tin, and even asbestos, Texaco could rebuild after being destroyed, concrete’s destruction is definite.

The issue of translation and time in Chamoiseau’s movement from Créolité to Glissant’s ‘Relation’

9 Apr

While gathering scholarly articles, I came across a 2012 interview with Chamoiseau conducted by Olivia Sheringham for the the International Migration Institute at the University of Oxford, as part of the Oxford Diasporas Program(me), in which Chamoiseau talks about how more recently, he has in fact moved away from Créolité, for very similar reasons as to why he first stayed away from Negritude.

According to Sheringham, Glissant’s concept of ‘Relation’ “… refers to the interconnectedness and interdependence of the world and seeks to move beyond atavistic notions of identity”, which is now a stance adopted by Chamoiseau, who was a close friend and collaborator of Glissant, who died in 2011.

In the interview, Chamoiseau discusses his reasons for giving up Créolité in favor of Relation, mentioning the dilution of the original term that was used to discuss Creole language, and the false binary logic of Negritude that feeds into Créolité. Throughout the interview, Chamoiseau points outs the role of language in forming identities, Creole or otherwise, which then speaks to the points on the limitations of translation raised by Maryse Condé, an important Caribbean writer, in an conversation with Emily Apter, published in the journal of Public culture.

Chamoiseau responds to Sheringham’s question regarding the origin of the term ‘Creole’, by stating that in its original form, it was only meant by (Glissant, himself and others) to refer to “… the mechanical constitution of the creole language” and that Glissant himself claimed once “… that the mechanical constitution of the creole language is an echo of the world – showing that the creole language is formed of a mosaic of multiple languages and lexical presences.”

However, Chamoiseau book-ends this statement by saying that historically, the term was used to designate any object, animal, artifact, social identity or food that was created in or “acclimatized to” the Americas, though it first began as a way of describing “… the descendants of European colonisers.” For me personally, this explanation brings us directly to the doorstep of ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, and fills in all the gaps left by Rhys in my understanding of the binary of white creole/black creole set up in her book.

Explaining why he prefers the concept of Relation as it allows for “relational identity, which is an identity that is defined by the fact that it changes all the time without losing anything or being distorted”, Chamoiseau states–

“… I would prefer to get rid of the term [creolization] and to use the term Relation instead. Because the idea of creolization presupposes that we are still in the former absolutes – racial absolutes, black/white, linguistic absolutes – all the former identity markers that elsewhere defined métissage: métissage is black/white that gives us grey.”

I feel that this concept of Relation really does bring the Post Colonial/Subaltern discussion directly into our current time, as it allows for a discussion of the influence of and relationship between multiple times and spaces that both Fabian and Nixon raise as issues faced by marginalized populations all throughout the Global South (in fact, it even challenges the static nature of the concept of the ‘Global South’!).

Chamoiseau stresses the fluidity allowed by Relation, and also when prompted by Sheringham, goes on to place ideas of Globalization, Fixed Identity and the falling away of Absolute concepts in this context of Relation. I feel that Maryse Condé raises many of the same issues in her discussion with Emily Apter of translating Caribbean writing, being as she is fully aware of the ‘Africa Chic’ co-opting within Euro-centric cultures throughout the 90’s and 2000’s.

When speaking with Apter about the translation of her work, conducted by her husband, Richard Philcox, Condé states–

“… if there is a phrase in Creole, he leaves it, but he also includes a translation in the notes (and most publishers resist this). And when he says his translations are market-driven, it really means only in this narrow sense of maximizing clarity and accessibility. He knows that I have resisted being “marketed” in America within the confines of the preestablished “black writers” niche.”

In response to Apter’s question regarding how her work is marketed, she responds with the following:

“Editors tend to see everything in black and white, and they have tried to target the African American reading public in marketing my fiction. But this really doesn’t work, since my books are concerned less with race and much more with the complexities of overlapping cultures, with conditions of diaspora, and with cross-racial, cross-generational encounters.”

Not to say that Conde agrees with everything Chamoiseau and Glissant claim regarding Relation– in fact, in response to Apter’s direct question regarding the Créolité manifesto penned by Chamoiseau and a few fellow writers in 1989, she claims that the term itself “… effaces the history of slavery, of the plantation culture, and the economic foundations of the island. The term créolité makes the cultural laboratory more important than the memory of a sugarbased economy.” While thus making a case for the inclusion of plantation memory in the discussion of the Creole language and culture, Condé still seems to be making a case for a movement away from binaries– It is easy to see how the very act of translation itself ensures that oral tradition, the heart of Creolite, “observes hierarchy as it can only be communicated in translation”, as claimed by Amy Emery in book, ‘The anthropological imagination in Latin American literature’. Emery states:

“The role of the anthropologist or the writer… is to transcribe the spontaneous richness of oral narrative with a minimal amount of authorial intervention. The positioning of the writer and his or her informant is meant to guarantee that the document will be an authentic expression of the informant’s voice, which the literate writer has facilitated, but not produced as such” (70).

This point raised by Emery speaks to the problem of allogenic time as raised by Fabian, which leads me to believe that more than any other sub-set (if you will) of Post Colonial writing, Caribbean Writing addresses the issues highlighted in ‘Time and the Other’ as well as Nixon’s ‘Slow Violence’ by discusses ways in which to decrease the distance between center and periphery caused by the binary oppositions within language and discussions about language, as well as resists the forced hierarchy of translation.


Amy Emery, The anthropological imagination in Latin American literature, 1996.

Emily Apter, Crossover Texts/Creole Tongues: A Conversation with Maryse Condé, 2001. Public Culture 13(1): 89–96.

From Creolization to Relation: An interview with Patrick Chamoiseau http://www.migration.ox.ac.uk/odp/pdfs/PatrickChamoiseauInterview_F.pdf

Assimilation and Integration

9 Apr

Monsieur Alcibiade gives a political speech in Texaco in which he speaks favorably of France but rails against “subjection, the goal of which was to exploit the colony in France’s interest alone.” He later presents the metaphor of a daughter walking side-by-side with the mother to represent the ideal situation of Martinique maturing. Throughout Texaco (thus far), there are a great deal of references to the population’s love of France and French culture. Nelta, while presented as a character who wished to travel the whole world, dreams primarily of Marseille. Aside from Alice in Wonderland, even the skeptical Marie Sophie holds on to books by French authors.

Against our expectations, Martiniquans are never shown revolting against the motherland, even in the face of casualties from the two World Wars. Although Alcibiade serves as an antagonist and no fan of Cesaire, his views do not seem entirely out of step with Cesaire or many of Chamoiseau’s more sympathetic characters. Cesaire’s desire to make Martinique a “department” of France, which would seem to be in step with Alcibiade, seems odd. Why would Cesaire want this?

In “Political integration as an Alternative to Independence in the French Antilles,” Arvin W. Murch conducts a study on Antillean (Martinique and Guadaloupe) leaders’ attitudes toward France and independence in contrast to an earlier study on former British holdings in West Indies. His purpose was to get to the bottom of what seemed like an anomaly (The French Antilles moving toward “closer integration with metropolitan France”) in the “age of nationalism.”

The findings of the study, published in 1968 (the timing of this study seemed appropriate for the novel, particularly the section we are covering on Tuesday) are intriguing. Based on the earlier study of the West Indies, Murch asserts that if the Antilles have not moved toward independence, that it can be attributed to “(1) the absence of an enlightened leadership capabe of mobilizing these demands, or (2) an already satisfactory level of equality in the local society” (546).

Murch provides data proving that Martinique (and Guadaloupe) did, in fact, have an enlightened leadership (by this he means a leadership that buys into Enlightenment ideas such as The Rights of Man), pointing toward more satisfactory economic and human rights conditions. Despite some of the evidence we see in Texaco, Murch does prove that conditions such as an open society and access to education are, at least, better at the time in Martinique than Jamaica.

Importantly, Murch discusses the idea of assimilation, likening France’s policy to that of Ancient Greece, as opposed to the British’s resemblance to the Romans. In the Greek model, the mother/father state “sought to make each holding an integral part culturally, politically, and commercially of the homeland.” (548). Perhaps for this reason, the data shows that a majority of “enlightened” leaders in the Antilles did not see independence as necessary to achieve an egalitarian society.

Importantly, a survey also showed that many leaders believed that independence was not politically or economically feasible at the time. While this hints at more cynical thinking regarding the relationship between colony/former colony and mother country, there is also strong evidence to support that the connection between the people of the French Antilles and French culture was equally as significant in terms of attitudes toward independence.

All in all, the study is a fascinating look at the attitudes of leaders in the Caribbean in the mid to late 1960s. Despite the sound methodology and the reasonable assumptions the author makes based on his findings, this seems to stand somewhat in contrast with Texaco, where overcrowding and poverty cannot be simply brushed aside by a sentence or a favorable comparison with Jamaica. In fact, the only point easily reconciled between study and novel is that the French Antilles enjoyed a relatively open society where there were less barriers to intermarriage. Indeed, Texaco spends a fair amount of words detailing the crumbling barriers between social strata and the changing realities faced by Fort-de-France’s various castes. It also shows a break between the author and the protagonist and Aime Cesaire, which perhaps hints that the enlightened leaders of Martinique were not entirely representative of their constituents.

Texaco – Narrative, Form, and Voice

5 Apr

Much like Joellyn, I have been very focused on narrative form while reading Texaco. I think it is especially important considering our discussion of the form and particularly the voice found in Oil on Water. Although it describes violence that happens to many, Oil on Water is framed by a singular individual. In a way, the voice itself is apt for describing slow violence. By using first-person limited, Habila confines us to the individual experience – while third person automatically frames a story from an outside perspective, first person forces the reader into the interior of the character. In this way, Habila’s voice is useful for addressing slow violence – it is representative of the kind of hidden interiority that seems to be exemplary of the difference between slow violence and the “quick” violence that makes the news and forces people to pay attention.

However, by limiting the first person to Rufus alone, Habila also limits our scope of the story. Rufus’ voice is representative of the slow violence happening to all of the characters, but because he is the only character whose mind we know, we are fettered in our scope of the story. Although his interiority is available to us, he is still inevitably framing the lens through which we view the experience of every other individual. Chamoiseau seems to attempt to solve this problem in Texaco, because although Mary-Sophie is at the heart of the novel, Chamoiseau weaves many voices around hers in order to complete his story.

This of course begins in the first section, “The Annunciation,” in which we gather different perspectives of the “coming of the Christ.” In this chapter, we are not yet aware of who our narrator will be for the majority of the book, and instead are given a nameless omniscient narrator who moves through the minds of these different characters as they experience the arrival of the “Christ.” Thus, Chamoiseau sets up a framework for this novel that is immediately different from that of Oil on Water. We open with a woven together story, and the rise and fall of the voices allows us to experience snippets of individual experiences.

As Priyanka has pointed out, this allows for a more “authentic” narrative, and I think one of the reasons for this is that it gives us access to a broader range of individual experiences while still allowing each to retain that individuality – in other words, the flow of the narrative does not blur them together but rather sets them up against each other so that a fuller story is told in between the lines that define each character.

Finally, I think that the “excerpts” from various notebooks are certainly worth considering, especially in terms of what Chamoiseau is doing with this particular style of narrative in terms expressing a story without limiting its lens or framework. As has been pointed out by other posts, it is clear immediately that the content of the excerpts does not necessarily align itself clearly with the flow of the story around it. They are purposefully disruptive and arresting, asking the reader to pause and hold another voice in tension with the one that we are already reading. Chamoiseau uses these excerpts as another level of that constant “circling” around the truth that he is attempting to reveal without directly delivering the story from a singular, linear source. In this way, it seems that he is taking Habila’s stylistic attempt to grasp an elusive “interior” experience and fortifying it with a more complex narrative voice, one that perhaps more clearly captures the particular nature of the violence being expressed. 

Sex as Metaphor: Violence and Identity

5 Apr

In a few of the novels we’ve read, sex is described through a metaphor. In Season of Migration to the North, Lalami explains Mustafa’s sex scenes as “a theatre of war” (29). Sex becomes a symbol to the bigger picture of Mustafa’s attempt to conquer Englishwomen and regain masculinity to the African identity. Mustafa explains, “I would stay awake all night warring with bow and sword and spear and arrows” (29). His identity transforms throughout the novel as he performs identity through name changes and sexual metaphors.

In Chamoiseau’s Texaco, the sex metaphor is very different from Mustafa’s violent battles. Sex in this case is described through images of the water—-birds, the tide, a shipwreck and canoes. Oselia is “a starving bird pecking at his skin, pecking his sweet juice, pecking a bit of his blood and the rest of his soul” (66). He becomes a shipwreck that continually needs to be saved from the depths of the water. The violence of Mustafa’s sexual encounters is not seen in the same sense here. The water is a source of violence and in a way can be seen as a reason why Oselia can’t repeat this act with the narrator’s father. Metaphors and phrases of water are continued through the novel. Yet, going back to this specific scene, at the end of that same paragraph the narrator makes herself known again and says that she can only “make a sketch of what happened” because her father “hadn’t done school.” This break in the metaphor shows the reader that the identity of the novel is not fixed—there are tales of others, of herself, and in other voices. Sex in a way, is a means to invoking violence and challenging identity.

In the big picture of this novel, identity is a main concern. As we began reading Texaco, it was at first difficult because it seems natural to ground identity to understand where the novel is going. Chamoiseau makes this attempt difficult for his reader. In “Re-Imagining Diversity and Connection in the Chaos World,” Chamoiseau explains identity as, “In the past, people thought a cultural identity was powerful when it enclosed and defined what belonged to me and not to others; today it is powerful when one is—and recognizes that one is—in relationship with the diversity of cultures. And the more a cultural identity is capable of putting itself into connection with diversity, the more powerful it will be—that’s our big issue, that’s what we want to examine today in our literature.” This is what we see in the structure and voices Chamoiseau uses in Texaco.

Distinctly French: the Subaltern travel to and from City in ‘Texaco’ and ‘Pere Goriot’

5 Apr

Patrick Chamoiseau, in choosing to write ‘Texaco’ using shifting points of view, jumps in time, switches in tone and dialect and circularity, achieves what Spivak upholds in her seminal ‘Can the Subaltern Speak (1)?’, which is the creation of a multi-facted narrative where the multiple Creole identities represented (in ‘Texaco’) tell their own story in their own language, at their own pace and in a manner closer to their own oral traditions versus the format or style of western fiction. (Spivak’s criticism was that ‘benevolent’ Western intellectuals can silence the subaltern by attempting to speak for them).

In ‘Texaco’, City is evoked frequently, and one such time is when the “city which was not City” is described in opposition to the Quarter and its hutches—“There was a constant going and coming between the Quarter of the Wretched and the City’s heart. City was the open ocean. The Quarter was the port of registry” (172). We are also given Esternome’s own version of City—

“City’s a quake. A tremor. There all things are possible, and there all things are mean. City sweeps and carries you along, never lets go of you, gets you mixed up in its old secrets. In the end you take them in without ever understanding them. You tell those just-off-the-hills that that’s how it is and they eat it up: but City has just gulped you in without showing you the ropes. A City is the ages all gathered in one place, not just in the names, houses, statues, but in the not-visible. A City sips the joys, the pain, the thoughts, ever feeling, it makes its dew out of them, which you see without being able to point to it. That’s what City is and that was Saint-Pierre.” (173-174).

With this thought in mind while reading Chamoiseau’s ‘Texaco’, I was immediately struck by the similarities between its thread involving descriptions of movement to and from City, and a similar thread in works of French Realism, such as Stendhal’s ‘The Red and the Black’ and Zola’s ‘Germinal’, but for the purpose of this blog post, specifically, Balzac’s ‘Pere Goriot’.
While ‘Pere Goriot’ is not considered part of the post-colonial canon, I’d like to argue that the issues of class, economic status, place and identity raised by the inhabitants of Maison Vauquer, and Eugène de Rastignac’s own constant battle to enter and be accepted by the bon-ton in Paris, in an effort to move away from both the Bucolic South of his youth as well as from the stench of poverty of the neighborhood in which the Maison Vauquer stands, speak to concepts of Subaltern, a field of Post-Colonial studies that focuses on individuals and/or communities that exist outside the hegemonic Center, often but not always represented as City.
Balzac himself was said to have been influenced while writing ‘Pere Goriot’ by the writing of James Fenimore Cooper, who at the time was known for his representation of Native Americans and their often violent interaction with civilization, a theme that certainly influenced Balzac’s use of characterization and dichotomies within ‘Pere Goriot’. It is in the juxtaposition of ordinary citizens against an omnipresent, all-powerful, mysterious City that I feel contains some of the seeds of Subaltern Studies and literature.
At the end of Pere Goriot, the reader is shown an incredibly epic scene: Goriot is dead, and Rastignac finds himself on a hill (I believe he reached here after a walk through the Père-Lachaise cemetery, post-funeral) overlooking Paris, which Balzac lays before him as a glittering, beautiful entity. He starts off towards his dinner with Delphine de Nucingen (which has social implications all of its own) but not before (at least in Loesberg’s interpretation) yelling out, “À nous deux, maintenant!” (“It’s between you and me now!”), presumably directing this challenge at Paris.
Chamoiseau gives Marie-Sophie the ability to co-opt and subvert this idea of challenging a city:

We shoved our way about next to City, holding on to it by its thousand survival cracks. But City ignored us. Its activity, glances, the facets of its life (from every day’s morning to the beautiful night neon) ignored us. We had vied for its promises, its destiny; we were denied its promises, its destiny. Nothing was given, everything was to be wrung out. We spoke to those who looked like us. We answered their call for help and they answered ours. The old Quarters held hands, going around City, families joined them, exchanges linked them. We wandered around City, going in to draw from it, going around it to live. We saw City from above, but in reality we lived at the bottom of its indifference which was often hostile.

The descriptions of movement to and from City gives Chamoiseau’s characters the agency to vocalize what they win and lose in every movement, and allows for multiple narrators and identities in a way that creates a multilinear and thus more authentic subaltern narrative. This more authentic narrative is a feature that distinctly belongs to writing that arises out of the “Overseas Departments” of France, which according to the New Internationalist, Chamoiseau interprets as another form of colonialism (2). I’d like to argue that Subaltern Literature written from within these Overseas Departments (like Martinique) is uniquely placed to vocalize multidimensional stories and narratives in a way other colonies or ex-colonies are not, because of the outlier moving to City (outside moving in) aesthetic that is so firmly a part of French culture, including French colonizing culture, first written about by French Realism authors such as Zola and Balzac.

(1) http://www.mcgill.ca/files/crclaw-discourse/Can_the_subaltern_speak.pdf
(2) http://newint.org/features/2001/10/05/texaco/