Hazel V. Carby. Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands


  • Jarula M. I. Wegner Goethe University Frankfurt


Autobiography, Memoir, Postcolonial Literature, Critical Theory, Black Atlantic


This article reviews Hazel Carby's 2019 publication Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands. It argues that the text can be considered in the history of postcolonial autobiographies, but that it also moves beyond such easy ascriptions. Imperial Intimacies builds on Stuart Hall's memoir Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, but also moves decisively beyond it. Whereas the latter describes the ways in which personal and historical experiences inspire critical theories, the former applies such theories in order to offer a careful and detailed historical analysis. Based on more than twenty years of collecting family memories, travelling to relatives near and far, as well as researching archives in Canada, Jamaica, the United Kingdom and the USA, Carby works through historical tensions, frictions and contradictions to reveal them, contextualise them and thereby to denaturalise them. Through constellating memories, histories and archives, Imperial Intimacies presents an autobiography as critique.

Author Biography

Jarula M. I. Wegner, Goethe University Frankfurt

 Jarula M. I. Wegner teaches at the Institute of English and American Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt. He is Editorial Board member of the Festival Culture Research and Education network, co-founder and speaker of the Global Memories Working Group at the Memory Studies Association and co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Memory Studies Group at the Frankfurt Humanities Research Centre. He holds degrees in Chinese (BA), German (MA) and English (MA and PhD) with a doctoral thesis on “Transcultural Memory Constellations in Caribbean Carnivals: Literature and Performance as Critique.” His work has been published in international, peer-reviewed journals, such as, Caribbean Quarterly, Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, Journal of West Indian Literature and Memory Studies.