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Interstitial and Abyssal Geographies

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jonathan Pugh



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Against the backdrop of the contemporary crisis of faith in modern reasoning, work on islands and with island cultures has come to the fore in the development of alternative, non-Eurocentric, non-modern, ways of being and knowing. Much attention has surrounded a wide range of critical work associated with the ‘ontological’ or the ‘relational’ turn, highlighting interstitial, entangled, post- and more-than-human creative encounters of becoming. This paper examines the emergence of what we call ‘abyssal thought’, a related but distinctly different analytical approach drawing largely from critical Black studies. Central to abyssal approaches is the understanding of the world as ontologically inseparable from its violent forging through antiblackness. In putting coloniality at the heart of the modernist problematic, abyssal work turns to the Caribbean in particular as a gateway, door or ‘punctum’, a space of ‘abyssal geographies’, inviting a deconstruction or unmaking of the world. Exploring how, this paper draws out three key aspects of the abyssal analytic: (1) the abyssal ‘subject’ forged through the ontological violence of the making of the modern world, (2) the abyssal as a refusal of impositions of spatial and temporal fixities, and (3) the methodological approach of ‘paraontology’. Thus, its key concerns are those of refusal, deconstruction and ‘suspension’ rather than of creative becoming. In distinction to relational ontologies of interstital island work, the desire is not to save or to remake understandings of the human and the world but rather to negate them.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chandler D, Pugh J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Political Geography

Year: 2022

Volume: 98

Print publication date: 01/10/2022

Online publication date: 13/04/2022

Acceptance date: 02/04/2022

Date deposited: 02/05/2022

ISSN (print): 0962-6298

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5096

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2022.102672


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