Créolité and the Regime of Visibility: Reading Les neuf consciences du Malfini by Patrick Chamoiseau
Arguing that it is time to move beyond the question of language as the key instrument for articulating identity, this essay offers an examination of the visual mode of representation in the aesthetics of the creolist movement. Taking Jacques Rancière’s idea of different regimes of writing, the analysis starts by examining what the author calls the regime of visibility and its ontological implications in the 1989 manifesto Éloge de la créolité. This then serves as a basis for a close reading of Patrick Chamoiseau’s 2009 novel Les neuf consciences du Malfini, narrated from the perspective of a bird circling above Martinique. The essay claims that the regime of visibility is closely connected to the real, while carrying an almost mythic coefficient. It is precisely this double, paradoxical, capacity of the visual that will appear in full force in the novel, taking identity politics in another direction.