The Caribbean: Aesthetics, Ecology, Politics - Conference, 23rd-25th Sept., 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Michael Niblett, University of Warwick
contact email: 

The Caribbean: Aesthetics, Ecology, Politics

A conference at the University of Warwick, 23rd-25th September, 2011. Deadline for abstracts: 1st March.

Keynote speakers include: Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Oonya Kempadoo, Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Janette Bulkan

The twin spectres of economic and ecological crisis today haunt the globe. The capitalist world system has been convulsed by the violent manifestation of its underlying contradictions. The world environment, meanwhile, is under threat from the effects of that system, the logic of capital driving relentlessly towards the degradation of human and extra-human nature. Despite the planetary scope of many ecological problems, the intensity of their impact tends to be felt unevenly across the globe, with the poor, and most especially those in peripheral nation-states, suffering most.

In the Caribbean, natural disasters such as hurricanes and the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010 already pose enormous challenges for the region. The intensification of, for example, extreme weather conditions with global warming will only exacerbate these difficulties. Their effects, moreover, cannot be disentangled from the long history of ecological and social exploitation imposed on the region by capitalist imperialism—from the environmental transformations brought about by early colonization to the contemporary problems wrought by tourism and penetration by multinationals.

This conference looks to provoke debate on the relationship between Caribbean environments and literature and the arts. We invite papers that consider the intersection of aesthetics, imperialism, and ecologies, and which examine the role of cultural production in mapping and responding to environmental crises and natural catastrophes across the pan-Caribbean. How has fiction or travel writing, for example, registered the transformations in landscapes, seascapes, flora, and fauna occasioned by the plantation regime, or national development projects, or tourism? How has the "open, exploded, irrupted" space of the Caribbean (Glissant) been mediated in artworks? We are also interested in the intersection of social justice with environmental justice, and the role the writer or artist might play in addressing such issues. What is the potential of the artist as activist, and how might the arts offer new approaches and perspectives for thinking about and dealing with these issues?

We welcome papers on any linguistic area of the Caribbean, and on any form of cultural production (literature, drama, art, music, etc). Possible themes might include, but are certainly not limited to:

- Imperialism, ecology, and aesthetics
- The significance of natural disasters and ecological
crises to Caribbean aesthetics
- Ecology, creolization, and politics
- Fictions of resource extraction
- The role of the artist as activist in the Caribbean
- The arts and environmental justice
- The arts and social movements
- Visions of environmental Utopia and dystopia in the
- The environment as historical memory
- The environment in national, regional, or diasporic i
Individual papers should be no longer than 20 minutes. Please send a 300 word abstract and a biographical sketch (150 words) to Michael Niblett at by March 1st, 2011. Proposals for panels (3 speakers) are also welcome: please send a 200 word summary of the rationale for the panel, in addition to individual abstracts. Any enquiries, please contact Michael Niblett at the above email address. The conference is part of a Leverhulme Trust-funded research project currently being undertaken at the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies, University of Warwick.