full name / name of organization:
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
F. Nick Nesbitt, Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen
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.
Please send panel proposals and/or paper abstracts (300 words) with a brief biographical statement (150 words) to Lorna Burns and Michael Morris at email@example.com by 1st December 2009.