Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Space, Violence, and Knowledge in Gisèle Pineau’s L’espérance-macadam

Marie-Chantal Kalisa, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Document Type Article

Published in Discursive Geographies; Writing Space and Place in French/Geographies discursives; l’écriture de l’espace et du lieu en français. Ed. Jeanne Garane. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 2005. 103–117. Copyright 2005 Editions Rodopi. Used by permission.


This essay analyzes Gisèle Pineau’s complex portrayal of Caribbean space in her novel L’espérance-macadam. It argues that for the female generations represented in the work, knowing one’s intimate geography despite its instability is crucial to acquiring freedom from what Françoise Lionnet calls “geographies of pain.” In order to be truly liberated and empowered, Eliette Florentine, the novel’s main narrator, must not only acquire what Trinh T. Minh Ha terms “territorialized knowledge” (“Out There” 327) but she must also exercise her liberty. In L’espérance-macadam, Pineau depicts the link between Caribbean geography’s unpredictable and often violent temperament and that of its inhabitants. In the novel, a preponderance of natural disasters such as hurricanes destabilizes both physical and human geographies. This essay examines how the novel adds another dimension when a correlation between physical and human geography enters domestic space.