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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Rapa Nui’s Errantries: Toward a Distant Archipelagic Reading

Paula Park • Wesleyan University

March 21st @ 6 P.M. Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center

Known for its remoteness and distinctive Moai statues, Rapa Nui or Easter Island has long attracted the attention of globetrotting travel writers. There is, however, another body of world literature that explores Rapa Nui without any firsthand experience. Chilean Pedro Prado’s novel The Queen of Rapa Nui (1914) and Martinican Édouard Glissant’s The Magnetic Land: Errantries of Rapa Nui, Easter Island (2007) read like travel literature, yet neither author ever set foot on the island: Prado consulted the work of French explorers and missionaries, whereas Glissant relied primarily on notes, sketches and videos recorded by artist Sylvie Séma, Glissant’s wife, who did visit the Chilean insular territory. Far from viewing these texts as exoticist literature, this presentation relates them through a methodology that could be called distant archipelagic reading and it argues that both were written against the grain of continental imperialism.

Islands as Metaphor and Method
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