Caribbean Symbolic Forms (Abstract deadline December 1, 2014)

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SYMBOLISM: An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics
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Special issue of SYMBOLISM: An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics
Focus on Caribbean symbolic forms

Contributors are invited to submit essays for a forthcoming special issue of Symbolism: An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics. The theme of this issue is "Caribbean Symbolic Forms." Its focus is on the diverse forms in which the collectivities of Caribbean consciousness have manifested themselves within the multiethnic, transhistorical and transnational experiences of the region's peoples. Caribbean symbolic forms comprehend a broad range of complex objects, practices, meanings and values. Beginning with the Taino zemis, symbols were central to the prehistorical daily experience and cosmological mysticism of Caribbean peoples. Culled from nature, the gourd served and continues to serve multiple material uses but also to function as "creative space and expressive resource" (Olive Senior). With origins in Hindu devotional songs, chutney names the survival and revivals of a particular kind of musical form prevalent in Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname, but signifies across a broad spectrum of meanings as it mixes with other Caribbean musical genres (calypso, soca, reggae) and permeates the region's cuisine in condiments made from spices (chili, coriander, cumin) and fruits and vegetables (mangoes, pineapples, tomatoes, pears). This complex signifier illustrates those symbols to which Walcott in his Nobel lecture ascribes the power to "conjugate the tenses of past and present simultaneously to excavate and discover identity." The turn Brathwaite makes in his poetry to Sycorax video and audio style suggests the ways in which imaginative artists and academic scholars may deploy postmodern modes and technologies to critique the symbols of forces that threaten to reinscribe colonial structures under the guise of globalization and neoliberalism.

Essays may focus on (but need not be restricted to) one or more of the following:

Literatures and oratures of the Caribbean
The semiotics of material culture
Mythic, religious and spiritual symbolisms
Vodun, myal, obeah, pocomania and Spiritual Baptist rituals, beliefs and practices
The nexus of zemis, arboreal, and speleological nature
Carnival, Cropover, Junkanoo and other festive/performance cultures
Caribbean narrative and narrative forms as socially symbolic productions
Vernacular languages
Vernacular architectures
The comparative politics of marronage and buccaneering
Caribbean terrestrial beauty; and the Caribbean oceanic sublime
Gendered symbolisms—masculinities and femininities
Popular culture, music, film and other media
Diasporic nationalisms
Desire, sex and sexuality
Political cultures and their political symbols
Transgressive cultures: crime syndicates, gangs, cartels as symbols of the state

The volume envisages a broad range of approaches to the symbolic, and welcomes submissions from scholars across disciplinary boundaries. Essays may deploy an equally broad range of critical, theoretical, and analytical strategies.
Send an abstract of the proposed paper, not exceeding 250 words, by December 1, 2014. In addition, please include your name, e mail address, rank, institutional affiliation, title of the proposed paper, and a brief bio-statement. Address your correspondence by e mail to, or to Professor Keith Sandiford, English Department, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.