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Goddesses, Ghosts And Translatability In Wilson Harris' "Jonestown"

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This article examines Wilson Harris’s multifaceted account of terror in Jonestown (1996), arguing that the novel’s planetary representation of life in the face of terror and catastrophe proves vital to its critique of dominant conceptions of political life in a globalizing world. Through the post-traumatic mapping of Jonestown, Harris opens up a wide-ranging critique of terror in Guyana and other parts of the world. Representations of broken bodies and wounded communities call attention to the “precarity” of life – to borrow a term from Judith Butler – in a world where cultures of violence and ruthless economic imperatives prevail. Yet, at the same time, Harris’s cross-cultural discourse represents a correlative to, and commentary on, Guyana as “a land of many waters”, peoples, sacred traditions and cultures, offering a fluid reworking of local and global imaginaries through terror at the thresholds of the living and the dead, the human and non-human, the profane and the sacred.
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