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Buried Perspectives Jennifer Terry


Published on December 3, 2014

94 Jennier erry try to codiy, the author’s use and treatment o geography and ‘nature’, probe the delineation o the relations between people and place and ask to what extent such are interventions in or reinscriptions o amiliar discourses o ‘Americanness’ and American landscapes. 1 In Postmodern Cartographies: Te Geographical Imagination in Contemporary American Culture , Brian Jarvis observes an “acute sensitivity to the politics and poetics o space” in American literature that is “accentuated in Arican-American writing” (1998, p. 113). Tis is ascribed to Arican American collective experi- ence, or “[t]he dislocations o the diaspora were ollowed by centuries o ormal sociospatial apartheid under slavery” and modern “segregation, ghettoisation and incarceration” (p. 113). I the attentiveness to space in more traditionally canonical European American literature involved dreams o reedom and escape, the prom- ises o a new ound land and ears about encounters with an untamed wilderness, all arising rom explorer, immigrant and settler perspectives, what might the con- tinent mean to those whose very presence and existence was determined by orce and legal oppression? Te indigenous American populations did not share un- derstandings and narratives o their environment as a “New World” and, brought to the Americas as slaves then denied an equal orm o belonging there, as Jarvis points out, Arican Americans held a diferent relation again.  Te ear expressed in Song of Solomon and Morrison’s earlier Te Bluest Eye (1969) o being put out- doors, o becoming “the outsider, the propertyless, landless wanderer” speaks to how a ragile and threatened sense o residency, o home, rooted in black diasporic history, might constitute a part o a heightened sensitivity to the politics and poet- ics o space (p. 7). Claudia Maceer observes in Te Bluest Eye , “knowing that there was such a thing as outdoors bred … a hunger or property, or ownership” in Arican Americans (p. ), a reaction too explored through the once dispossessed and later real estate mogul, Macon Dead in Song of Solomon . Yet Morrison’s ction sketches not just alienated and / or acquisitive relations to land but also narratives o redemption, discovery and connection within the US landscape, so providing a complicated picture o black inhabitation. 1. In a rare reading that explicitly addresses the symbolic geography o Morrison’s novels, Mel- vin Dixon writes, she “explores new physical and metaphorical landscapes in her ction … endows her characters with considerable mobility” and “extends the geographical imagery … established so ar in Aro-American letters” (1987, p. 141 & p. 166). . According to Maria Diedrich, oni Morrison approaches the South, in particular, “rom the perspective o a people that entered this sel-proclaimed paradise not as potential owners but as human chattel denied the right to enjoy the ruits o their Garden o Eden by their white con- queror-masters” (1995, p. 34).