2023 Honorable Mention, Isis Duarte Book Prize, Haiti/ Dominican Republic section (LASA)
2023 Winner, Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Book Award, Caribbean Studies Association
An innovative study of the artistic representations of undocumented migration within the Hispanophone Caribbean
Debates over the undocumented migration of Latin Americans invariably focus on the southern US border, but most migrants never cross that arbitrary line. Instead, many travel, via water, among the Caribbean islands. The first study to examine literary and artistic representations of undocumented migration within the Hispanophone Caribbean, Crossing Waters relates a journey that remains silenced and largely unknown.
Analyzing works by novelists, short-story writers, poets, and visual artists replete with references to drowning and echoes of the Middle Passage, Marisel Moreno shines a spotlight on the plight that these migrants face. In some cases, Puerto Rico takes on a new role as a stepping-stone to the continental United States and the society migrants will join there. Meanwhile the land border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the only terrestrial border in the Hispanophone Caribbean, emerges as a complex space within this cartography of borders. And while the Border Patrol occupies US headlines, the Coast Guard occupies the nightmares of refugees.
An untold story filled with beauty, possibility, and sorrow, Crossing Waters encourages us to rethink the geography and experience of undocumented migration and the role that the Caribbean archipelago plays as a border zone.
Marisel C. Moreno is the Rev. John A. O'Brien Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Family Matters: Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland.
A first-rate cultural history spanning several decades of intra-Caribbean unauthorized migrants crossing from one insular territory to another to escape natural disaster, dispossession, or animosity at home, Crossing Waters reads Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Cuban literary texts and visual and performing arts to reveal how the region’s artists—whether working in the Caribbean proper or in diasporic locations—have engaged this chapter in the saga of Antilleans' needing to leave home.
— Silvio Torres-Saillant, Syracuse University, coauthor of The Once and Future Muse: The Poetry and Poetics of Rhina P. Espaillat
I have been waiting for this book for almost two decades. Moreno's detailed and extraordinary discussion finally links inter-Caribbean experience to questions about immigration, race, Latinidad as a whitening ideology, and ongoing debates and explorations about what counts as "Caribbean literature and art.'" Moreno carefully constructs a decolonial interdisciplinary approach to critical race theory and literary and art criticism to study the changing narratives about cultural production in the Caribbean and its diasporas. This island-based Puerto Rican writer is deeply grateful for her work. Enhorabuena, Marisel. Gracias por este maravilloso trabajo.
— Mayra Santos-Febres, author of Boat People
Moreno seamlessly accommodates the Caribbean’s unruly multiplicities—of national contexts, identities, and migration pathways—without sacrificing nuance and specificity...Her capacious framing allows Crossing Waters to proceed assuredly through the folds of successive Caribbean geopolitical contexts—from the erosion of birthright citizenship in the Dominican Republic to shifting U.S. policy toward Cuban refugees—while maintaining a remarkably coherent arc...Moreno’s framing of migration as a process that often lacks a defined end resonates with the ongoingness of border studies writ large and Caribbean border and migration studies in particular...Scholars of migration would do well to follow Moreno’s impulse to understand border studies as both an anchor and a current.
A momentous contribution that expands the field of Latinx Studies into Caribbean water and land. It opens many crucial and fruitful avenues of consideration for the overlooked study of the travails of Caribbean undocumented migration.
— A Contracorriente
Crossing Waters is an excellent contribution to Caribbean migration studies, border studies, and Latinx literatures and cultures...[Moreno's] prose is insightful, clear, and defies traditional anthropological and necro-political contexts to argue for futurities that are not only more democratic but also centered on living and not dying.
— Centro Journal
Chapter 1. Rethinking the Borders of the Caribbean Archipelago
Chapter 2. Puerto Rico: Border and Bridge to the Continental United States
Chapter 3. Dominican Crossings: Displacements across Sea and Land
Chapter 4. Cubans at Sea: The Balsero Crisis in Literature and Art
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