Monday, November 16, 2009
In conjunction with the Glasgow University Caribbean Discussion Group, we are delighted to announce a major conference on the theme of 'Caribbean Enlightenment'.
An Interdisciplinary Caribbean Studies Conference
8th to 10th April 2010, University of Glasgow
J. Michael Dash, Professor of French, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
Paget Henry, Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Brown University
Nick Nesbitt, Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen
Charles Forsdick, James Barrow Professor of French, University of Liverpool
Kei Miller, Creative Writing Department, University of Glasgow
Call for Papers
In a speech widely regarded as instigating the series of events that would lead to the overthrow of the Lescot government in 1946, André Breton's proclamation of Haiti's 'inalienable enthusiasm for liberty and its affirmation of dignity above all obstacles' articulated the enduring revolutionary conviction in the Enlightenment-inspired principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. This artistic, cultural and political expression of a universal right to freedom and self-determination reflects the diverse and complex ways in which Enlightenment ideals have found expression in the Caribbean. From the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 to The Black Jacobins, surrealism, négritude, and the contemporary writings of such theorists as Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Édouard Glissant, and Wilson Harris, the interrogation of universality has both contributed to the ongoing dissemination and creolization of Enlightenment discourse and has subjected it to a thorough critique. This conference aims to explore the various ways in which the site of the Caribbean, with its writers, artists, revolutionaries, and diverse peoples, has adapted and questioned the legacies of the Enlightenment. Acknowledging the Caribbean's crucial role in the Atlantic world, the Enlightenment's history of empire building and slave rebellions, colonial domination and postcolonial nation-building, the valorization of reason and its role in the division of knowledge will be interrogated against the dissemination of a discourse promoting universal human rights, democracy and equality.
This conference seeks to bring together interdisciplinary perspectives on Enlightenment themes, both historical and contemporary, in order to trace the spread of a universalist discourse across the Caribbean. We hope to bring together Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanophone perspectives that explore figurations of the universal within the Caribbean context. Noting the region's national and linguistic divides, this conference will expose the ways in which Enlightenment ideals have been adapted to express the particular experience of the Caribbean peoples. Finally, we pose the question: 'Does the commitment to universalism amount to a totalizing discourse, or can universalism be revisioned'?
We invite papers and panel suggestions that deal with any aspect of Caribbean Enlightenment, but which may include:
Reason and Rule of Law
Revolutions and uprisings
Shortcomings of the Enlightenment: slavery and racism
Development of 'improvement' in technologies, medicine and language
Universal Human Rights, Democracy, Marxism, Self-determination
Economics of Caribbean Enlightenment
The impact of surrealism
Négritude and the universal
Appraisals of The Black Jacobins
Contemporary Caribbean literature/philosophy and universality 'revisioned'
Gendered, gay, racial, and class perspectives on universality
Religion and the Caribbean
Caribbean thought and 'post-continental' philosophy.
We are happy to say there will be a limited amount made available for Postgraduate Travel Bursaries. If interested, please enquire.
Please send panel proposals and/or paper abstracts (300 words) with a brief biographical statement (150 words) to Dr. Lorna Burns and Michael Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org by 1st December 2009.
Monday, November 9, 2009
For the past few years, I have collected the “words of wisdom” concerned colleagues, researchers, elders in my discipline, “everyday experts,”* friends, and family members have graciously given me before, and during, my multiple research trips to Jamaica. In last month's volume of Transforming Anthropology**, I wrote about the five themes that connected these pearls of wisdom in a piece titled, "'Don't Ride the Bus': and Other Warnings that Women Anthropologists Are Given During Fieldwork." Although the individuals giving me advice seemed dedicated to thinking up ways to help me navigate unfamiliar territory, and genuinely wanted to make me feel comfortable in this space, in reality, much of their advice and warnings only worked to remind me of three things: (1) I was traveling alone; (2) I was a foreigner; and (3) I was a woman. For almost all of my advice givers, the gendered fact of Number 3 somehow exacerbated their anxiety and concern around the first two sentiments. It seemed that being a foreign woman alone in Jamaica, and the Caribbean more broadly, was somehow dangerous and problematic. Subsequently, these well-meaning American tourists, business travelers, African diasporic researchers, and Jamaican residents called, emailed, and whispered strategies to help me deal with the obstacles I would undoubtedly face.
In my article, I conclude that the advice people gave me during my research did not necessarily help me figure out how to get around Jamaica, or do my fieldwork research more efficiently. However, their advice did tell me a great deal about the ways Jamaica, and the Caribbean more broadly, are read through racialized, nationalized, gendered, sexualized, and classed lenses. Additionally, I realized that there were not enough spaces available for those completing research in the Caribbean, (particularly women), to talk about and discuss their experiences—the daily ins and outs of “doing research,” while navigating bustling city streets, crowded beaches, lively taxi car parks, jam-packed buses, and peaceful mountain towns. The silencing of these stories does not prepare our graduate students to do better research. And the revisionist histories that we often include in the texts that we write, erasing the highs and lows of our experiences, often downplay the significance of our identities and how these social markers affect our interactions with, and research about, the Caribbean.
Therefore I ask you: How was your experience of doing research in the Caribbean? What advice would you give current and future researchers working in the diverse locations that make up the Caribbean?
*I use the term “everyday experts” to describe the individuals anthropologists have traditionally called “informants.”
**Volume 17, issue 2, October 2009.
Contributed by Bianca C. Williams
Monday, November 2, 2009
Call for Papers and Panels:
Freedom and Power in the
UWI, Mona, June 3-5 2010
The Centre for Caribbean Thought (CCT) UWI, Mona, in association with Africana Studies at Brown University and the Institute of Caribbean Studies, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras is proud to host the VIIth Caribbean Reasonings Conference entitled Freedom and Power in the Caribbean: the Work of Gordon K. Lewis, to be held June 3-5, 2010 at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Professor Gordon K. Lewis, (1919 – 1991) taught for many years at the
Lewis’ work transcended the region’s linguistic fragmentation and was consistent with the view that “No one could really claim to be a full practitioner in Caribbean Studies until he came to write ultimately, on the
There is limited space on the conference programme for individual papers and panels, thus we are suggesting that proposals that fall within the following broad categories will be given serious consideration:
1. Critical examination of Gordon K. Lewis’s scholarship, particularly The Growth of the Modern West Indies; Main Currents in Caribbean Thought; Puerto Rico: Freedom and Power in the Caribbean; and Grenada: the Jewel Despoiled.
2. Critical work on the present state and the future of social sciences research in the
3. Critical exploration of the state of Caribbean Thought in the contemporary period beyond Lewis’ assessment in Main Currents in Caribbean Thought
4. The state of politics in the
5. The existential condition of Caribbean Intellectuals and intellectualism in the 21st century.
6. Reflections on the Grenada Revolution and Lewis’s assessment of its collapse in
7. Critical reflection on the state and status of Puerto Rico, beyond Lewis’ analysis in Puerto Rico: Freedom and Power in the
8. Critical analysis of the state and future of Pan Caribbeanism and integration movements.
9. Sports, culture and the future of
Abstracts should be sent as a Word attachment to Beverley Sutherland Lewis at: email@example.com
FINAL date for submission: December 15, 2009
.Hosted by: The Centre for Caribbean Thought, UWI, Mona, The Institute of Caribbean Studies, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras and the Africana Studies Department, Brown University, Rhode Island.