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The World as Abyss: the Caribbean and Critical Thought in the Anthropocene

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jonathan Pugh



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This book is about a distinctive ‘abyssal’ approach to the crisis of modernity. In this framing, influenced by contemporary critical Black studies, another understanding of the world of modernity is foregrounded – a world violently forged through the projects of Indigenous dispossession, chattel slavery and colonial world-making. Modern and colonial world-making violently forged the ‘human’ by dividing those with ontological security from those without, and by carving out the ‘world’ in a fixed grid of space and time, delineating a linear temporality of ‘progress’ and ‘development’. The distinctiveness of abyssal thought is that it inverts the stakes of critique and brings indeterminacy into the heart of ontological assumptions of a world of entities, essences, and universal determination. This is an approach that does not focus upon tropes of rescue and salvation but upon the generative power of negation. In doing so, it highlights how Caribbean experiences and writings have been drawn upon to provide an important and distinct perspective for critical thought.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pugh J, Chandler D

Publication type: Authored Book

Publication status: Published

Year: 2023

Print publication date: 05/05/2023

Online publication date: 05/05/2023

Acceptance date: 08/02/2023

Publisher: University of Westminster Press

Place Published: London


DOI: 10.16997/book72

Notes: Freely downloadable from

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781915445308