The second international conference of the Caribbean Studies Forum (CSF), an institutional collaboration between East Carolina University and the University of Belize, takes place the 10th through 12th of October, 2019. Building on the success of the first conference, the forum returns to the City of Belmopan and is hosted by the University of Belize at its central campus under the theme: Writing/Righting/Rite-ing/Wright-ing the Caribbean.
The conference aims to expand awareness of Caribbean cultures, provide a platform for interdisciplinary Caribbean Studies research projects, connect a diverse body of academics (North-South and South-South), and promote the field of interdisciplinary Caribbean Studies in general. Thus, all papers related to Caribbean Studies will be considered although we encourage scholars, artists, writers, and other interested persons to think about the different manifestations of the theme:
- ‘Writing’ as marking or inscribing, composing, filling in, involving the gamut of genres traditionally ascribed to literature, composition, and the representation of language: from essays and news columns to poetry and novels. While etymologically focussed on the written word, writing here is not uncommonly expanded to include ‘social inscription’.
- ‘Righting’ as implicated in philosophy and jurisprudence, relating to restoration, correction, redressing or rectifying wrongs, and reparations. Also distinguishing what is morally good and what is true.
- ‘Rite-ing’, a neologism referring to the performance of religious and ceremonial acts, customary observances, social practices, conventional events.
- ‘Wrighting’ invokes the idea of craft and art-forms, from the literary to the plastic to the dramaturgic arts; it concerns all forms of making or building. Evoking carpentry, the smithy and the forge, the word also refers to the work of the playwright and the wordsmith’s expert use of words to communicate ideas through the skilful application of literary styles, methods, and techniques.
Caribbean studies might be channelled through these themes. Caribbean scholarship refines, realigns, redresses, and rights our understanding of the region. It contests the Caribbean’s ‘evisceration from the imaginary geographies of “Western modernity”’ by declaring its ‘indisputable narrative position’ at modernity’s origin (Sheller); it redresses discourses of indigenous erasure (Forte); it insists on the centrality of small Caribbean islands within history (Deloughrey); it rehearses how the Caribbean has ‘occupied the procenium of history’ from centuries of imperial warring over islands through to the superpower standoff during the Cuban Missile Crisis and on to today (Torres-Saillant); it demonstrates how ‘Afro-Caribbean beliefs appear together with the rumba and the carnival as forms of knowledge as valid as those proper to scientific knowledge’ (Benítez-Rojo); it describes how the Caribbean nevertheless coheres, despite a sense of ‘fragmentation exacerbated by island geography’ as well as its ‘balkanisation’ by culture and language (Poupeye).1
This conference hopes to spotlight traditions and trends in writing, rites, and concepts of ‘right’, examining various combinations of these as embodied actions, political statements, and individual or collective activisms. The conference looks to strengthen the activisms taking place in writing and rituals, to expose the possible weaknesses in the Caribbean's cultural multiplicity, to address how political hierarchy in the Caribbean has worked against the region’s global interest, and to question definitions of the Caribbean and their exclusionary nature in discourse.
- We seek papers that contribute to the broad vein of scholarship in Caribbean studies involved in the work of righting the Caribbean intellectually; this includes recovering its place within world history, respectfully acknowledging its complexity, broadening our conceptions of its borders, recognising its manifold relations, reiterating its profound influence on the world stage.
- We are interested in papers that treat various religious traditions, secular ideologies, and global philosophies—mainline and marginalised—investigating how they work through rites on Caribbean society and culture, engendering social change, and/or creating bonds of community.
- We also invite papers that focus on the more perverse legacies of global superpowers variously insisting on intervening to ‘right’ democratically elected governments in Caribbean territories, and papers interrogating contemporary political currents that have resulted in a string of far-right government heads representing policies and positions sometimes inimical to Caribbean life.
- We are especially interested in individual or collaborative paper presentations and creative endeavors. We aim to engage a wide audience of scholars and practitioners researching in these areas from within a range of disciplinary fields and contexts. And abstracts from graduate students, early career researchers, and artists are very welcome.
1Sheller, Mimi, Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies (Psychology Press, 2003); Forte, Maximilian C, ‘Extinction: The Historical Trope of Anti-Indigeneity in the Caribbean’, Issues in Caribbean Amerindian Studies, 6 (2005); DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M, Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literature (Honolulu: University Of Hawai’I Press, 2010); Torres-Saillant, Silvio, An Intellectual History of the Caribbean (New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); Beni´tez
Rojo, Antonio, Maraniss, James E, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective (Durham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Press, 2001); Poupeye, Veerle, Caribbean Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012).