“John E. Drabinski has composed a work of exceptional depth that is yet fathomable, in remarkably beautiful prose, given the severity of the subject matter … On a subject that could for centuries find no purchase, the author has given to twenty-first century philosophy, of all fields, a treatment of the Middle Passage from a major Caribbean thinker with a rich, existential, deliberately non-reductionist description of the forced migration of African peoples. The work is nuanced and detailed, and provides several avenues forward in the continuation of his expedition into the complex waters of the Middle Passage. Within the grim history of forced migration and slavery lies a gentle, lyrical composition whose depth of inquiry yields beautiful truths, genuine struggles, and always, the possibility of moving from dislocation to connection, from the ocean’s abyss to the island’s shore.” – Al-Yasha Ilhaam Williams
“This edifying study looks at the archipelagic thought of Édouard Glissant in fiction and criticism. Drabinski discusses Glissant as a reader of local thinkers (Fanon, Césaire, Senghor, Lamming, Chamoiseau, Peck, Walcott, et al.) in their deliberations on the Caribbean subjectivity facing the traumatic experience of the Middle Passage and slavery, against the trail of Atlantic thought (Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, Lacan, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari). Fleshing out the main intellectual itinerary that Glissant’s work establishes outside conventional Western confines, Drabinski highlights human experiences such as history, representation, memory, de/relocation, and specificities of the Caribbean islands. Against the claim of the irretrievability of memory, the author underscores the ambiguous centrality of the Middle Passage as a sign of loss and presence of memory…A must-read for anyone interested in modern theories of the Caribbeans.” – K. M. Kapanga
“Glissant and the Middle Passage is the single most comprehensive and compelling treatment to date of the philosophical dimension of Édouard Glissant’s non-fiction. John E. Drabinski maps Glissant’s geography of reason in the mode of a postcolonial ‘intensification of qualities,’ summoning a philosophy of post-traumatic relationality that tracks the philosophical valences and aftershocks of the Middle Passage. Essential reading.” – Nick Nesbitt
“Glissant and the Middle Passage is an ingeniously cast light on Glissant’s remarkable philosophical proposition to the world from the Caribbean geography of reason. It shows how the singularity of a Caribbean mode of thought disrupts admitted stances on crucial philosophical precepts to fruitfully expand and broaden the realm of a philosophy that ordinarily centered its concerns and frames of reference around an established European worldview.” – Hanétha Vété-Congolo
John E. Drabinski is Professor in the Departments of African American Studies and English at University of Maryland. He specializes in 19th-21st century critical theory in the black Atlantic intellectual tradition. He is the author of four books, most recently Glissant and the Middle Passage: Philosophy, Beginning, Abyss (Minnesota 2019) and Levinas and the Postcolonial: Race, Nation, Other (Edinburgh 2012; winner of the Frantz Fanon Book Prize), and has published over four dozen articles on figures and trends in Africana and European philosophy. As well, he has edited book and journal collections on Édouard Glissant, Frantz Fanon, Jean-Luc Godard, James Baldwin, and Emmanuel Levinas and Martin Heidegger. He is currently finishing a book that reframes interpretations of Baldwin’s non-fiction entitled ‘So Unimaginable a Price’: Baldwin and the Black Atlantic, to be published by Northwestern University press, as well as a short volume What is the Afropostmodern? as part of the Forerunners series at University of Minnesota Press.