My regular readers would have understood that I develop a certain amount of quasi-pathological obsessions for a certain amounts of ideas or concepts that tend to come back regularly in my articles, in such a way that one could say that each article tends towards an attempt to articulate always the same idea. Among these obsessions is the idea of the archipelago and you will soon see that I did not finish to articulate a few thoughts around this idea yet, since an ambitious project of the same name will soon complement my writing on this blog.
In the following text, I would like to approach the archipelago through the same way that I first did, through a philosopher that has been highly influential to me in this last decade, Édouard Glissant. The archipelago is for him a figure of a utopia towards which the world should tend in order to construct a politics of “the relation” rather than a politics of the universal. Of course, an archipelago is a very evocative example of territories that construct simultaneously the difference between each island, and a collective identity as a group; that is what makes it a strong figure for a new paradigm of sovereignty (see past article). However, according to Glissant, there is an additional complexity to it that enriches this territory of an exemplary ideology. In order to look at it more closely, we need to first observe its opposite, the continental sea — etymologically, the archipelago is also a sea before being a group of islands. The paradigmatic example of the continental sea, because of both its history and its contemporaneity is the Mediterranean Sea. The following excerpt is what he writes about it in one of his only translated books in English, about which we might want to observe the difficulty to translate the language — Glissant was talking about translation as an emerging art in itself — that Betsy Wings brilliantly managed to translate from French to English: