Archipelagic Trash: Despised Forms in the Cultural History of the Americas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay argues that “trash” is a key category for understanding processes of cultural devaluation and decapitalization. It investigates what it frames as despised forms in a specific literary archive: the vast production of Caribbean pulp fiction published in the post-WWII period. Examining the circulation of archipelagic trash in the circum-Atlantic region, the essay traces the boom in representations of white trash subjectivities in postwar Caribbean plantation family sagas, from their incipient manifestation in the early works of Edgar Mittelholzer to their mutation in the burgeoning popular fiction market of Christopher Nicole. The essay considers Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) as an archetypal archipelagic form that not only encompasses the wide circum-Atlantic region (Jamaica, Dominica, England) but also elucidates the political vision of the white trash Caribbean pulp fictions. Wide Sargasso Sea exposes a white trash political mythos that thus far had remained buried in the calm waters of an archipelagic Caribbean.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArchipelagic American Studies
EditorsBrian Russell Roberts, Michelle Ann Stephens
PublisherDuke University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-8223-7320-9
ISBN (Print)9780822363354, 9780822363460
StatePublished - 2017


  • Caribbean Area
  • United States
  • Philippines
  • Islands of the Pacific


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