Seeing with more than sight: Nalo Hopkinson's non-ocular visions of the human
Jamaican-Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson has developed a substantial body of work belonging to the genre of Black Speculative Fiction. Hopkinson’s oeuvre succeeds in challenging what it means to be human. She also reminds us first that historically race has been constructed to dehumanise certain subjects. However, secondly, Hopkinson also offers possible and imagined futures in which the human subject is complicated beyond its current strictures, especially that of race. This project will argue that Hopkinson’s works often speak to philosopher Sylvia Wynter’s call to revalorize the human, a figure who is often synonymous with Man. Hopkinson’s body of work succeeds in exploring such a revalorization through one of the most prevailing sensorial faculties of human beings – our sight; a sense which has been instrumental in the identification of Blackness, and subsequently in our practices of racialisation and dehumanisation. This project aims firstly to uncover the ways Hopkinson constructs sight in multiplicitous and non-ocular ways, and secondly how this broadened definition of sight speaks to the work of Sylvia Wynter and ultimately works towards a revalorization of the human. Through a theoretical close reading of Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber, as well as the short story, “Something to Hitch Meat To”, and the comic series House of Whispers, this project suggests that when the sensorial faculty of sight incorporates non-ocular ways of seeing, this can disrupt the boundaries of the human and facilitate a revalorization, wherein racial categories no longer relegate certain subjects to subordinate social, cultural and political positions.