“Caribbean American Narratives of Belonging is accessibly written and discusses a remarkable number of contemporary and popular works. Halloran builds off a growing interest in Caribbean and postcolonial studies, forwarding a welcome and compelling approach that moves beyond a single national lens to consider the region as a whole.” —Joseph A. Keith, author of Unbecoming Americans: Writing Race and Nation from the Shadows of Citizenship, 1945–1960
In Caribbean American Narratives of Belonging, Vivian Nun Halloran analyzes memoirs, picture books, comic books, young adult novels, musicals, and television shows through which Caribbean Americans recount and celebrate their contributions to contemporary politics, culture, and activism in the United States. The writers, civil servants, illustrators, performers, and entertainers whose work is discussed here show what it is like to fit in and be included within the body politic. From civic memoirs by Sonia Sotomayor and others, to West Side Story, Hamilton, and Into the Spider-Verse, these texts share a forward-looking perspective, distinct from the more nostalgic rhetoric of traditional diasporic texts that privilege connections to the islands of origin.
There is no one way of being Caribbean. Diasporic communities exhibit a broad spectrum of ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic, and political qualities. Claiming a Caribbean American identity asks wider society to recognize and affirm hybridity in ways that challenge binaristic conceptions of race and nationality. Halloran provides a common language and critical framework to discuss the achievements of members of the Caribbean diaspora and their considerable cultural and political capital as evident in their contributions to literature and popular culture.
Vivian Nun Halloran is Professor of English and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. She is also the author of The Immigrant Kitchen: Food, Ethnicity, and Diaspora.
Introduction Performing Caribbean Americanness
Part 1 Shaping a More Perfect Union
Chapter 1 A Vision of Belonging in Political Campaign Books and Civic Memoirs
Chapter 2 “Big Citizens” and Public Advocacy
Part 2 Coming of Age
Chapter 3 Picturing Caribbean American Childhoods
Chapter 4 Education, Love, and Belonging in Young Adult Fiction
Chapter 5 Miles Morales: Multimodal Caribbean American Superhero
Part 3 Seeing Ourselves Reflected Back
Chapter 6 Visualizing Belonging
Chapter 7 Staging Caribbean American Lives in the Shadow of West Side Story
Conclusion Aspirational Whiteness and the Limits of Belonging