Political and Aesthetic Entanglements in French Antillean Cultural Expression

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Lisa Connell/ NeMLA
contact email: 

The Caribbean basin has long been theorized as a crossroads of multiple political, cultural, environmental, and social influences. Within the specific context of the French Antilles, the 1946 act of departmentalization has served to increase the region’s ambiguous political and cultural status. Indeed, many French Caribbean artists, activists, and writers have staged, questioned, and probed the ramifications of these multiple epistemological points of contact. For example, whereas Édouard Glissant has crafted an optimistic vision of rhizomatic relations, writers such as Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, and Fabienne Kanor insist on the ramifications of slave history in ways that underscore the political, cultural, and social marginalization experienced by many members of the French Antillean community both in the French mainland and in the overseas departments. Moreover, the debates surrounding the recently opened MémorialACTe in Guadeloupe not only encapsulate ongoing concerns about how the slave trade and slavery are represented, but also longstanding questions about reparations and the cultural and historical specificities of the former slave colonies. As these examples suggest, political acts—be they laws, edicts, or moments of resistance—often underpin and prompt forms of Caribbean cultural expression.


This panel thus bears on questions about the strategies French Antilleans use to define, dismantle, or challenge the multiple ideological, epistemological, and political forces that have shaped notions of individual and collective identities. How does the colonial past loom in representations of the post/colonial present? How do different forms of cultural expression shed light on the political tensions existing between the French mainland and overseas departments? How do images of French Caribbeans express political notions of being or manifest post/colonial conditions of vulnerability and agency?   


Please send 250 word abstracts (in French or English) to Lisa Connell at lconnell@westga.edu