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Reading: Coconut/Cane & Cutlass: Queer Visuality in the Indo-Caribbean Lesbian Archive

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Scholarly Article

Coconut/Cane & Cutlass: Queer Visuality in the Indo-Caribbean Lesbian Archive

Author:

Suzanne C. Persard

Emory University, US
About Suzanne
Suzanne C. Persard is a scholar of queer and feminist theory, whose work centralizes the formations of gender and sexualities in the post-indenture Caribbean and its diasporas.
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Abstract

Michelle Mohabeer’s groundbreaking Indo-Caribbean queer film, Coconut/Cane & Cutlass (1994) remains one of the earliest works of queer Indo-Caribbean visual art. Mohabeer scripts the lesbian body cinematically through an iconography of indenture: coconut, cane, cutlass. This article returns to Coconut/Cane & Cutlass nearly three decades after its release to examine the radical ways in which Mohabeer’s visual aesthetics posits the canescape as a site of Indo-Caribbean lesbian subjectivity, reconfigures the cutlass from its status of violence to one of desire, and examines the poetics of fragmentation as a queer feminist genealogical approach. In our reading of Coconut/Cane & Cutlass as a visual text of rewriting diasporic subjectivity, Mohabeer produces a radical visual genealogy that narrates diasporic Indo-Caribbean identity through a primary site of queerness, upending historical approaches to gender and sexuality within traditional configurations of the indentured diasporas.

 

La innovadora película indocaribeña queer de Michelle Mohabeer, Coconut/Cane & Cutlass (1994), sigue siendo una de las primeras obras de arte visual indocaribeño queer. Mohabeer escribe el cuerpo lésbico cinemáticamente a través de una iconografía de la mano de obra importada no abonada: coco, caña, alfanje. Este artículo regresa a Coconut/Cane & Cutlass casi tres décadas después de su estreno para examinar las formas radicales en que la estética visual de Mohabeer plantea el lugar del cañaveral como un sitio de subjetividad lesbiana indocaribeña, reconfigura el alfanje desde su connotación de violencia a otra de deseo y examina la poética de la fragmentación como un enfoque genealógico feminista queer. En nuestra lectura de Coconut/Cane & Cutlass como un texto visual de la reescritura de la subjetividad diaspórica, Mohabeer produce una genealogía visual radical que narra la identidad indocaribeña diaspórica a través de un sitio primario de lo queer, trastornando los enfoques históricos al género y a la sexualidad dentro de las configuraciones tradicionales de las diásporas de la mano de obra importada no abonada.

How to Cite: Persard, S.C., 2020. Coconut/Cane & Cutlass: Queer Visuality in the Indo-Caribbean Lesbian Archive. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies, 4(2), pp.40–55. DOI: http://doi.org/10.23870/marlas.290
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Published on 27 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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