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This study is an attempt to provide a new alternative to understanding the way that motherhood and the mother-daughter relationship is drawn and conceptualized in Caribbean Women's Writing in relationship to propertied relationships that concern land ownership and the female body. I argue that by invoking the metaphysical powers of the ibeji, the Yoruba belief that twins are spirit children that possess certain powers, we are provided with a new understanding of motherhood and are fully able to comprehend the complexities that motherhood and the mother-daughter relationship entail in relation to the material world. In the selected works, the ibeji serve as a catalyst to spur the women of the texts to restructure Caribbean constructions of the propertied relationships dealing specifically with the land and the female body, as well as to create a new space forged through the possibilities of diaspora that will allow for an alternative space of materiality that has not yet been determined. Thus, the way motherhood and twins intersect is that they bring into dialogue the manner which slavery in the Caribbean was constructed around various propertied relationships such as those of land and body. The authors and text understudy are unique in that they seek to recover and refurbish the Yoruba belief in the ibeji as a means of reconstructing motherhood by overturning and subverting propertied relationships that have been maintained even after the abolishment of slavery and through epochs of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and revolution in the Caribbean. Elizabeth Nunez-Harrell, in her novel When Rocks Dance, seeks to recover authenticity of the African beliefs in the ibeji to propose a new propertied relationship to the land for Afro-Caribbean women by supplanting Western economic power with that of an African pro-creative power. Edwidge Danticat's use of the ibeji in Breath, Eyes, Memory, serves as a connection between mother and daughter and the United States and Haiti that must be reconfigured for the women of Haiti to reclaim ownership of the female body and black female sexuality. In Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban, the ibeji represent the need to create a third space free from socialist model of Cuba as well as the imperialist model of the United States. Rather, a more broadly defined space in diaspora, that is yet to be determined, must be created and allowed to exist outside of the confinements of domesticity.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
Christopher Shinn, Professor Directing Thesis; Jerrilyn McGregory, Committee Member; Candace Ward, Committee Member; Darryl Dickson-Carr, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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