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Abyssal Geography

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jonathan Pugh



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


Today, we are held to live in the Anthropocene, bringing to an end modern binary imaginaries, such as the separation between Human and Nature, and with them Western assumptions of progress, lin- ear causality and human exceptionalism. Much Western critical theory, from new or vital material- ism to post- and more-than-human thinking, unsurprisingly reflects this internal crisis of faith in Eurocentric or Enlightenment reasoning. At the same time, a radically different critique of moder- nity has gained prominence in recent years, emerging from critical Black studies, which places the Caribbean at the centre of the development of a new and distinct mode of critical thought. In attempting to grasp the ways in which Caribbean thought and practice have been seen to enable a distinctive alternative non-Eurocentric imaginary, this paper heuristically sets out a paradigmatic framing of ‘abyssal geography’. We emphasize two key points. The first is that abyssal thought is not grounded in abstract and timeless philosophical assumptions but figuratively draws upon aspects of Caribbean practices of resistance and survival, for example, from the Middle Passage, Plantation, car- nival, creolization, dance forms and speculative fiction. The second is that abyssal work engages the legacies of modernity and coloniality by explicitly seeking to question the lure of ontology: seeking to disrupt, suspend and to problematize the modern project of the human and the world.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chandler D, Pugh J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Year: 2023

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 16/02/2023

Acceptance date: 08/11/2022

Date deposited: 17/02/2023

ISSN (print): 0129-7619

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9493

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/sjtg.12473

Notes: Keynote address at the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers annual conference (2022)


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