Sugar and Fish: Islands of Labor, Bodies of Violence

in Hybrid Genres / L'Hybridité des genres
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This essay uses a mixed-media interdisciplinary approach to bring together photography and literature, anthropology, phenomenology, and close readings of cultural texts from the francophone Mascarene Islands. I focus on two Mauritian artists, the photographer Jano Couacaud and the novelist Carl de Souza, who bring the experience and significance of hard physical labor to our shocked attention. Interconnected networks of production and consumption remain largely obscure to unaware or indifferent Western devourers of distant commodities such as sugar and fish. Couacaud and de Souza puncture widespread illusions about free-market mobilities and customer choice, exposing the seamier side of late-capitalism and the age-old exploitation of food-industry workers, in which we are all complicit. These artists’ respective visual and literary aesthetic foregrounds the intensity of postcolonial and globalized labor while forcing us to rethink the links among subjectivity, violence, embodiment, and the meaning of sociality.

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