Social Change And Gender-Based Violence: Representations In Caribbean Literature And Performance Cultures

deadline for submissions: 
July 29, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Kelsi Delaney, University of Leicester (Conference online)
contact email: 







Online Symposium, 22nd – 23rd September 2022


Closing date for Abstract and Bio Submissions: 29th July 2022



Gender-based violence (GBV) has a history in the foundation of colonial enterprises in the Caribbean where sexual violence and the (re)ordering of masculinities and femininities were central to the control of racialised, gendered and classed social groups. Though social changes led to the “delegitimization of violence against women” (Reddock 2004, xvi), in contemporary Caribbean society, the problem of GBV persists. GBV is inextricably linked to cultural beliefs about male dominance, economic exclusion, policing of sexualities, and multiple intersecting dimensions of social difference. Social movements in the Caribbean have historically risen to defend the rights, bodies, and dignity of Caribbean people who have been victimised by GBV. Rosina Wiltshire-Brodber emphasised, “The Caribbean gender issue cannot be divorced from the fact that Caribbean men and women cannot respect and value each other if as a people they do not respect and value themselves” (Wiltshire 1988, 147). Caribbean literary and performance cultures were key to the raising of consciousness, activism, and public mobilisations for social change. Recent social anthems such as “Leave Me Alone” from Calypso Rose and the emergence of youth-based social action groups that use poetry, fiction and blog on GBV are examples of art employed as activism to generate social change. 

 This symposium, Social Change and Gender-based Violence: Representation in Caribbean Literature and Performance Cultures, will explore the complex and contradictory meanings, discourses, and aesthetics of GBV as represented in print and performance cultures. We see print and performance cultures as published literary texts, spoken word, calypso, chutney soca and dancehall music, to name a few, but we also welcome contestations. In doing so, the symposium explores collective unconscious and cultural beliefs articulated in literature and performance cultures. The symposium seeks to illuminate both the solidarities and divergences of politics that emerge within these genres, attesting to the dynamic regional cultural, racial, national, and personal affiliations and perspectives of artists working in the region.  

 Considering this, the symposium asks: How is GBV being represented in Caribbean literature and performance cultures? How do expressions of gender ideals, identities and expectations in Caribbean literature and performance cultures inform perspectives on GBV? How do the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, geography, and age contextualise discourses on GBV in Caribbean literature and popular culture? What are the political possibilities and limitations of arts activism for social change in the Caribbean? 

 The symposium welcomes papers grounded in cultural studies, gender studies, historical and literary studies, as well as interdisciplinary approaches that explore the textual and performance representations of GBV. We welcome papers that put forward critique, creative methodologies, new conceptual frameworks and activist insights on the contemporary and future contexts of social change and GBV in the Caribbean. Following the symposium, a journal special issue will be published.

 This symposium is part of an international, collaborative research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. The Principal Investigator for Representing gender-based violence: Literature, performance and activism in the Anglophone Caribbean is Dr. Lucy Evans and the Co-Investigators are Dr. Gabrielle Hosein and Dr. Sonjah Stanley Niaah. The Research Associates are Dr. Kelsi Delaney and Mr. Amílcar Sanatan. 

 We invite papers on, but not limited to, the following themes: 

  • Race, class, gender and sexualities in the representations of GBV in Caribbean literature and performance cultures 
  • The role of literature and performance cultures in social movements against GBV 
  • Arts and pedagogies in literature and performance cultures 
  • Histories of feminist and women’s literary and performance cultural movements 
  • Feminist social change as a literary and performance cultural movement 


Submission Guidelines

Abstracts (200-250 words) and Bios (80-100 words) should be submitted to Dr. Kelsi Delaney and Mr. Amílcar Sanatan with the subject line “Social Change and GBV Abstract” by 29th July 2022. 

 All correspondence or questions regarding the symposium should be addressed to the symposium organisers, Dr. Kelsi Delaney and Mr. Amílcar Sanatan