This paper explores the location of black queer diaspora in Dionne Brand’s In Another Place, Not Here. She was born in Trinidad and emigrated to Canada in her late teens. She now lives in Toronto and is actively working in various genres, ranging from poetry, novels, nonfiction to documentary films. However, when compared with white Canadian women writers such as Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, the position of Brand is significantly lower. This, above all, is linked to the question of how Brand herself has established her position, sense of belonging and identity as a writer. The critic Danyte argues that it is difficult for Brand to receive the correct position and appraisal as a Canadian writer because she does not want to use terms such as African Canadian or Caribbean Canadians when describing her status as a writer. Emphasizing the fact that Brand expresses herself Black rather than Canadian can be read as a gesture of rejecting assimilation into Canadian society or alliances with whites. Brand explores themes of queerness, gender, race, sexuality and feminism, white male domination, and injustices in Caribbean and Canadian societies.
Her first novel, In Another Place, Not Here consists of two sections: one is told from the view of Elizete, a Caribbean peasant labor who remembers and rethinks slavery, colonial history, female bodies, and tangible realities; the other focuses on Elizete’s lover, Verlia as a revolutionist and activist for Blacks. Verlia, who left Canada for the Caribbean, tries to love and seek solidarity with Caribbean peasantry like Elizete. Their positions as queer black Caribbean women living in the Caribbean and Canada challenge questions of queerness, gender, race, colonialism, diaspora, and globalization. Elizete heads to Toronto to find her lover's trace and mourn her after Verlia's suicide during the revolution. What Brand's queer diaspora emphasizes is not to reveal abandonment of history, but to expand the horizon of new perceptions of multi-layered history based on shared experience in class, race, gender and sexuality. Finding belonging and stability in the arms of loved ones rather than physical places such as the Caribbean or Canada raises questions about more fundamental issues of home, place, space, nostalgia, and bondage.