Reimagining Sanctuary in Gayl Jones’s Song for Anninho and Mosquito
This chapter argues that Jones’s book-length poem Song for Anninho and novel Mosquito challenge death-bound theories of personhood through their narrational modes of flight, fugitivity, and sanctuary. It examines Jones’s depictions of historical and contemporary forms of sanctuary that organize the storyworlds of each text, including the seventeenth-century colonial Brazilian marronage community of Palmares, church sanctuary law, the North American Underground Railroad, and the U.S. Sanctuary Movement for unauthorized immigrant refugees. Responding to collapsed distinctions between fugitive and stateless personhood that have marked black Americans, indigenous persons, and other subjects of punitive jurisprudence in the hemisphere, Jones’s narrators identify themselves as refugees and fugitives who redefine sanctuary as a practice, not a place. In doing so, Jones’s narrators construct multiple extra-legal literary personae and other alternative modes of storytelling and archival memory that challenge the cultural logics underpinning taxonomies of legal personhood.
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