Reclaiming the Past in Caryl Phillips’s Cambridge
Keywords:The Middle Passage, Slavery, Trauma, Neo-archive, Witnessing
Black-Atlantic writer Caryl Phillips portrays slavery as an experience of trauma, an experience of death and survival leading to the suppression of and the demand for an assertion of Black identity. The protagonist Cambridge is liberated and resold into plantation slavery; so, his life is sealed by the Middle Passage which drifts him from the shores of Guinea to the Caribbean of the 19th century. His passage represents Africans’ never-ending trauma of slavery that continued even after the trade became illegal. As a survivor, he feels responsible for the Blacks. By exploring Shoshana Felman’s “the burden of the witness,” this paper reads Cambridge as a neo-archival retelling of the history of slavery.
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