Beyond Ruination: Climate Change and Contemporary Caribbean Novels

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

Caribbean authors have the challenge of narrating stories which can encompass the histories of genocide, slavery, indentured labor and colonialism. Alejo Carpentier, in his introduction to The Kingdom of This World (1949), is inspired by the ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in Haiti, to imagine, in the ruination of the colonial past, a miraculous new future. His ideas spawned a genre that helped formerly colonized peoples decolonize by revaluing formerly subjugated knowledges.

In the contemporary moment the Caribbean is experiencing the ruination of climate change: from the bleaching of coral reefs to rising sea levels. Is this ruination capable of inspiring contemporary novelists to write narratives that imagine futures that move beyond environmental destruction and despair? This panel invites papers on contemporary Caribbean authors whose works assert a future for the Caribbean that is not a continuation of the violences of the past or present but assert the possibility—however remote—of a different kind of future.

Novels that theorize such potential futures are necessary in the contemporary moment in order to move beyond narratives of catastrophe and despair that creates views of climate change as beyond actionable—and even inevitable. Countering these narratives with visions of human agency and hope can create, as Carpentier’s novel did, methods for recuperating what has been lost.

This panel will take place at NeMLA in Boston, March 5-8, 2020. Please submit all abstracts through the NeMLA online system:

Questions may be directed to: Moira Marquis,