Caribbean In/Securities: Creativity and Negotiation in the Caribbean (CARISCC)


CARISCC Blog Posts

A Review of CARISCC 4th International Conference on Caribbean In/Securities and Creativity – University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 13 June 2018

The CARISCC Research Network’s 4th International Postgraduate Conference on Caribbean In/Securities and Creativity took place in the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam on Wednesday 13th June 2018.

Opening keynote lecture: “Policing the Crisis? Stories of Intimacy and Power in Early Twentieth-Century Jamaica” – presented by Faith Smith, Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies and English and American Literature, Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA

Convened by CARISCC’s Principal Investigator, Patricia Noxolo (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Birmingham), and hosted by Rivke Jaffe (Professor of Cities, Politics and Culture, University of Amsterdam) the event featured keynote presentations by two distinguished guest speakers – Professor Faith Smith (Brandeis University, Boston, MA) and Dr Lucy Evans (University of Leicester, UK) – followed by two thematic panel sessions addressing ‘Moving in/securities’ and ‘Gendered in/securities.’

An image of Jamaican poet Claude McKay (1889-1948) which featured in Professor Faith Smith’s keynote lecture, presented during CARISCC’s 4th Postgraduate Conference on Caribbean In/Securities and Creativity, University of Amsterdam, 13 June 2018.

Professor Faith Smith’s opening presentation “Policing the Crisis? Stories of Intimacy and Power in Early Twentieth Century Jamaica” centred around two texts, each one written by men who were residents on the island in the years following the earthquake of 1907. These texts were: the colonialist autobiography of white Jamaican policeman Herbert Thomas; and the poem “A Midnight Woman to the Bobby” (1912), written by internationally renowned black Jamaican poet and novelist Claude McKay (1889-1948). Both texts were used to convey aspects of Jamaica’s complex colonial history and articulate how the political and cultural dynamics of Kingston – including levels of access to social justice under the law – were heavily influenced by intersected issues of race, gender, class, colourism, perceived levels of respectability and social standing at the turn of the 20th century.

CARISCC Network Member Dr Ronald Cummings (Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, Brock University, Canada) discussing “tracing” as a rhetorical device used within Caribbean narrative fiction as part of the Q&A following Faith Smith’s keynote presentation.

The literary analysis and archival research undertaken by Faith Smith to contextualise the social interactions of key characters discussed in these texts (both real and imagined) became the foundation for introducing what she termed “the catastrophe of social mobility.” In particular, her foregrounding of what could be uncovered and interpreted about black women’s levels of personal agency and their capacities for social mobility during this period – including her deconstruction of women’s interactions (and intimate relations) with members of the constabulary – was an important element of this interesting and nuanced presentation. Professor Smith’s keynote lecture generated a number of questions and comments during the Q&A session concerning black female corporeality, and also women’s use of rhetorical devices such as “tracing” (i.e. the “verbal dressing down” of someone in public) when negotiating and contesting the unequal positions of power between individuals as well as the broader structural inequalities operating at the level of the nation-state.

Dr Lucy Evans (Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature, University of Leicester) giving a keynote presentation at the CARISCC conference in Amsterdam, titled: “The political thriller, state crime and Harischandra Khemraj’s Cosmic Dance.”

Dr Lucy Evans presented a keynote on “The Political Thriller, State Crime and Harischandra Khemraj’s Cosmic Dance. The paper focused on what this fictional narrative (written in 1994, and set in the imagined state of Aritya) revealed about the social, economic and political history of Guyana during the regime of Forbes Burnham. Lucy’s presentation raised a number of layered issues about power relations – presented through the characters and operational activities surrounding a fictional food processing company (Binday Coconut Enterprises). These hierarchically gendered and raced  relations served as a metaphor through which Khemraj articulated his views about the real-life corporate “organisational deviance” and environmental state crime in Guyana throughout the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Continue reading “A Review of CARISCC 4th International Conference on Caribbean In/Securities and Creativity – University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, 13 June 2018”


CARISCC at MAC and NewStyle!

A farmer from Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region shows ripe coffee berries from his farm (2016). Image: Dr Kevon Rhiney (Associate Professor of Geography, Rutgers University), CARISCC Network Member).

CARISCC has had a great month at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham.  Our touring research and art exhibition has been part of MAC’s ‘Beyond Windrush‘ programme, so we have been privileged to sit alongside a new mural by the legendary Vanley Burke, and a new photographic exhibition by Andrew Jackson – for an informed review, read Carol Dixon’s recent Museumgeographies post.  The launch event was PACKED with people who are interested in Birmingham’s long Caribbean arts history, and we had lots of feedback and conversations about the exhibition.  On the launch night I also had the great pleasure of attending Phoenix Dance Company’s new production ‘Windrush: Movement of the People‘ – it was a joyous night of sometimes painfully thoughtful, but also intensely colourful dance performances, which continues to tour in a range of venues across the country.  Don’t miss it if you can help it.  All the exhibitions are running until 1st July, so do come and have a look.

“Bleaching Norm: Identity Crisis” (2016) by Ty Pessoa. Mixed media, acrylic on canvas. Dimensions of the original: 23.5in x 48in. Reproduced courtesy of the artist. Copyright: Ty Pessoa.

A few days ago CARISCC was hosted by NewStyle radio  The producer Paulette Francis-Green, and host Anthony Bailey interviewed myself and Derek Bishton about CARISCC, about the exhibition, and about the Shashamane screening (see below).  A radio interview was a first for me, but the team made us feel very welcome and we entered into a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion.  It was a welcome introduction to this long running and highly necessary local community resource.


CARISCC also hosted a screening of Giulia Amati’s film ‘Shashamane‘, a beautiful, tender and moving film about the continuing blessings and challenges faced by a Rastafarian community settled on land given by Haile Selassie in the 1940s.  MAC’s Hexagon Theatre was sold out, and the room was filled with people who had either been to Shashamane many times or who were keen to find out more.  The after-film discussion was graced by a highly-esteemed panel, including Shango Baku, Mama D, Derek Bishton, Queeni Thomas, and Sister Stella, each of whom gave soulful, personal and well-informed insights into the Shashamane community itself, but also into the processes through which it has been documented, including its particular links to Birmingham’s black community, and into the larger network of Rastafarian community that has formed across the African continent.  I am very grateful to all who made this such a successful event.





Shashamane Film Screening and Panel Discussion at Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham, 10 May 2018

The CARISCC Research Network will be hosting a film screening of the documentary Shashamane, directed by Giulia Amati, at Midlands Arts Centre, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH, United Kingdom, on Thursday 10th May 2018, 6.30-9.30pm.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 16.02.08
Poster for the documentary film “Shashamane,” directed by Giulia Amati.

Filmed on location in Birmingham, London, Kingston and Shashamane, this documentary records the unique experience of Caribbean, American, French and British Rastafari who settled in Shashamane in Ethiopia. The film explores the histories and legacies of colonial enslavement, and also offers outstanding testimonies of the joys and the challenges of returning to Africa, expressed by those who have made this important journey.

The screening will commence at 7pm, introduced by Patricia Noxolo (University of Birmingham), the lead researcher for CARISCC.

The event will also include a panel discussion with the following distinguished guests:

  • Giulia Amati – Film-maker and director of Shashamane
  • Sonia E. Barrett – Contemporary visual artist (
  • Shango Baku – Actor, educator and founder of CETTIE (Cultural Exchange through Theatre-in-Education)
  • Derek Bishton – Journalist, photographer, curator and cultural commentator
  • Mama D. – Lifestyle, health and well-being adviser and community campaigner.

Drinks and light refreshments will be served from 6.30pm.

To reserve a place at this FREE film screening, please call the Midlands Arts Centre box office: 0121 446 3232 (opening times: 9am-9pm).

This event is part of CARISCC’s touring presentation, Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity: A Research Project and Art Exhibition – funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The exhibition will be displayed at Midlands Arts Centre, from Tuesday 8th May – Sunday 1st July 2018.

Further details are available via the Midlands Arts Centre website at:

Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity: An Exhibition at MAC Birmingham, 4 May – 1 July 2018

The fifth staging of CARISCC’s touring presentation “Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity: A Research Project and Art Exhibition” will be displayed at Midlands Arts Centre, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH, UK, from Friday 4 May to Sunday 1 July 2018.

Artwork 1 17032017
Untitled collage by Gina A. Smith, featuring original photographs taken in Jamaica. Reproduced courtesy of the artist. Copyright: Gina A. Smith.

This FREE exhibition is part of a broader Leverhulme Trust-funded initiative – titled, Caribbean In/Securities: Creativity and Negotiation in the Caribbean (CARISCC) –specifically curated to showcase details about the important research themes currently being examined by CARISCC’s international interdisciplinary network of scholars.

The network’s members are based at seven leading institutions for Caribbean Studies (the universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Dundee in the UK; The University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands; Brock University in Canada; and Rutgers University in the USA), and all work in close collaboration with academics from the University of the West Indies at its campuses in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. Through CARISCC, the network’s members look at how Caribbean people deploy their creative energy to live with the everyday effects of poverty, inequality, social conflict and environmental challenges, while also generating globally influential creativity in political, literary, dance, aural, visual and audio-visual cultures.

The visual arts strand of the CARISCC exhibition includes recently commissioned work by sculptural artist Sonia E. Barrett, whose installation piece The Difficult Conversation” (2017) was developed in consultation with local residents from African and Caribbean diaspora communities in Chapeltown, Leeds, using found furniture to creatively interpret the network’s themes of precarity, in/security, vulnerability and resilience.

“Bleaching Norm: Identity Crisis” (2016) by Ty Pessoa. Mixed media, acrylic on canvas. Dimensions of the original: 23.5in x 48in. Reproduced courtesy of the artist. Copyright: Ty Pessoa.

Digital projections of paintings, photographs, documentary film clips and multi-media installations by 11 other high-profile contemporary visual artists of Caribbean descent will also be shown in this exhibition, presented alongside documentary photography taken by members of the CARISCC research network during recent field-trips to the Caribbean region.

The exhibition’s opening reception will take place on Friday 4 May 2018, 6-8pm.  This launch event will include light refreshments and an introductory talk by Dr Pat Noxolo, the network’s lead researcher. The visual art and the fieldwork photography will then remain on display at Midlands Arts Centre (Tuesdays – Sundays, 11am-5pm) through to Sunday 1 July 2018.

The launch for CARISCC’s event at MAC Birmingham has been scheduled to coincide with the opening of “From a Small Island” – a recently commissioned series of new works by the award-winning photographer Andrew Jackson. Following a visit to Jamaica in 2017, this exhibition was curated to reflect on the identities of Jamaican Diaspora communities since the post-war migration to Britain, and the lives of subsequent generations born in the UK. Further details about the exhibition “From a Small Island” are available online at

To reserve a place (FREE of charge) at the launch reception on Friday 4 May 2018, please book online at the following link to the Midlands Arts Centre website:

For further information, please also write to CARISCC’s Network Facilitator (Dr Carol Ann Dixon) c/o the University of Birmingham:

Exhibition information (in summary):

Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity: A Research Project and Art Exhibition
Dates: Friday 4 May – Sunday 1 July 2018
Venue: Midlands Arts Centre, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH, UK
Opening times: Tuesdays to Sundays, 11am – 5pm
Admission: FREE.




Call for Papers: International Dance Conference, UWI Cave Hill, Barbados

The central theme for the 3rd Biennial International Dance Conference is “Decolonizing Bodies: Engaging Performance.” This conference will take place on May 23-26, 2018, at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination of the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill, Barbados. The deadline for abstract submissions is February 15, 2018. Description/Guidelines: The University of the […]

via Call for Papers—“Decolonizing Bodies: Engaging Performance” — Repeating Islands

Engaging Abstraction and Portraiture at the National Gallery of Jamaica — Museum Geographies

During the CARISCC Research Network’s trip to Jamaica I was pleased to visit the National Gallery, located on Ocean Boulevard in downtown Kingston close to the city’s scenic Waterfront. Although the National Gallery was first established by a special committee of the Jamaican government in the early 1970s, with an embryonic collection of 230 works placed on public display at Devon House in 1974 […]

via Engaging Abstraction and Portraiture at the National Gallery of Jamaica — Museum Geographies

“In-secure Neighbourhoods: Negotiating Social Equity and Agency” – written by guest blogger Dr Jasneth Mullings (University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica)

Using excerpts from the book ‘Going Crazy in the City: Neighbourhood Context and Mental Health’, this blog reflects on depreciated community environments which have increased the social and economic in-securities for Jamaicans. It considers the relevance of agency to community development, recognizing the need to bridge the inequities in agency to facilitate more creative responses for sustainable development.  The book uses vignettes to provide insights into the lived experiences of Jamaicans of diverse socioeconomic and political backgrounds, living in ‘Bottom River’ [an informal/squatter settlement], ‘Middle Ground’ [a middle-income community], ‘Hill Drive’ [an affluent community] and ‘Country Road’ [a rural community].

 “…The residents of Bottom River were a proactive and resourceful set. With no legal access to electricity and in dire need of this modern convenience, the young at heart wasted no time in constructing what seemed like a practical plan to acquire this urgently needed resource. They obtained reams of left over wire from a construction site and attached them to the light pole which ran closest to their community. The wires spun out in a pattern much like the network of arteries and veins in the human body. In some spaces it resembled a colourful and intricately designed spider web. Bottom River had a special communication system, like a morse code to alert members when the authorities or strange faces were seen on the fringes of the settlement…” (pg 59).

Figure 12. Life in Bottom River (pg. 60) – Illustrated by Clovis Brown. Image courtesy of the artist. Copyright: Clovis Brown.

Community Action and Agency

With depreciating physical environments occurring across the landscape from Bottom River to Middle Ground, all the way to Hill Drive, an important question to ask is ‘Have residents taken the necessary action to improve  their environments and if not, why not?’ How much is this wrapped up in access to resources, power or status? One answer may lie in the concept of agency. Agency is an expression of individual power to take action on a matter of importance in a given set of circumstances. Hill Drive residents made efforts to garner resources to repair roads, etc. through their access to the corridors of political power. Beverly and Tina recognized their inability to change their environment in Bottom River. Hence their move to Hill Drive, spurred by the need to reside in an environment perceived as safe and one in which Jahmal would more likely be exposed to positive influences which could have a lifelong impact. But what of Bottom River and the residents who had to remain there? What would their outcomes be over their life course? Persons like Carlyle, Ms. Esmie, Joan and Mama are forced to accept their conditions and make decisions (e.g. purchasing a new car) which may not be in their best interest long-term. Their lack of control over their environment and inability to change their living circumstances could undoubtedly have a long-term negative impact on them and their families.

Some critical questions for consideration are:

  • How can residents of all communities be afforded agency?
  • What are the forces that will propel them to demand and/or institute the changes they deem necessary to preserve their health and well-being?
  • What support is needed to realize this potential and where are the sources of such support available?” (pg 122)

A sense of local agency is integral to the functioning of a community. The empowerment of citizens through training and other social development programmes brings life to a community and gives a voice to its people. State/citizen and non-state partnerships are needed to address challenges of urban blight and the accompanying social decay. Such multi-sectoral collaboration can best offer creative prospects for a more integrated, de-politicized and sustainable approach to community development.

Written by Dr Jasneth Mullings
Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica

17 January 2018


Excerpts from the book ‘Going Crazy in the City: Neighbourhood Context and Mental Health (2017).
Authors: Jasneth Mullings with Rainford Wilks, The University of the West Indies, Mona
Arawak Publications Arawak publications |Publisher & Publishing Consultants.

Jasneth Mullings is currently assigned to the Health Research Resource Unit, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI Mona as an Epidemiologist/Research Scientist, where she is supporting the Faculty s research programme. Her research spans community health and health systems research and interventions. Rainford Wilks, is founding Professor of Epidemiology and founding former Director of the Epidemiology Research Unit (ERU), TMRI, UWI. His clinical, research and teaching interests are in the chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), primarily in cardiovascular diseases, and their risk factors.

For further information about this publication, please contact the authors via email c/o:;


CARISCC Research Network and Interdisciplinary Conferences, UWI Mona, Jamaica, January 2018

M.E. (2016) from the Trench Town series, by photographer and video artist Charlotte C Mortensson. © Charlotte C Mortensson –

The Caribbean In/Securities and Creativity Research Network (CARISCC) will host two interdisciplinary conferences as part of a programme of public events and international dialogues taking place in January 2018 at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The Network’s 3rd CARISCC Postgraduate Research Conference will take place at Mona Conference Centre on Monday 15 January 2018, 9am-5pm. This event will open with the keynote address “Moving Caribbeans: Migration, Tourism and In/Secure Mobilities,” presented by our esteemed colleague Dr Susan Mains (Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Dundee; and CARISCC Network Member). This will be followed by a guest presentation by Orville Hall, artistic director for the internationally renowned Jamaican performing arts company Theatre Xpressionz.

The conference programme will also include three themed panel sessions, featuring contributions from Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral researchers. Full details of the conference programme are available online here.

The CARISCC Established Scholars’ Workshop will take place at Mona Conference Centre on Tuesday 16 January 2018, 9am-5pm.

This event was specifically scheduled to enable Network members (based at universities in the UK, Netherlands, USA and Canada) to meet with established scholars from the Caribbean region to discuss and explore reconceptualisations of security and insecurity (in/security) through creativity.

Some of the research papers presented by our invited guest speakers include the following:

  • “Economic Insecurity and the Black Dandy: Afropolitican Aesthetics as Epistemology,” presented by Dr Michael A. Bucknor – Senior Lecturer and Head, Department of Literatures in English, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica
  • “The Lydia Byam Experience: An Interface of Art and Science,” presented by Dr Aleric J. Josephs – Lecturer in History, Department of History and Archaeology, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica
  • “Securing Caribbean Futures through A Sexual Culture of Justice – Transformation through Creativity, Healing, and Cultural Practices,” presented by Dr Angelique V. Nixon – Lecturer & IGDS Graduate Studies Coordinator, Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS SAU), University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago
  • “Popular Pedagogies and Precarity: Lessons from a Decade of Consciousness-raising in the Caribbean,” presented by Dr Gabrielle Hosein – Lecturer and Head, Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago
  • “‘The Community was One Hundred Percent Safe’:  Resisting and Coping with in(security),” presented by Dr Yonique Campbell – Lecturer in Public Policy and Management, Department of Government, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica
  • “Child Participation and Expression through Research,” presented by Professor Aldrie Henry-Lee – Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica

As a prelude to these two conferences, the CARISCC Research Network will also host an online discussion one week before the events take place (during w/c 8 January 2018) to enable conference delegates, participants, network members and other interested parties to review, reflect on and pose questions about the proposed presentation themes in advance of the face-to-face conference discussions.

To contribute to the online discussion, please follow this link to review the conference abstracts:

If you would like to attend either of the afore-mentioned public events, please contact CARISCC’s Network Facilitator (Carol Ann Dixon) to reserve your place. As spaces are limited at both events, it is essential to book your place by (or before) Wednesday 10th January 2018. All requests to attend these events should be sent via email, c/o:

CARISCC Postgraduate Conference on Caribbean In/Securities and Creativity, Jamaica, 15 January 2018

The 3rd CARISCC Postgraduate Conference on Caribbean In/Securities and Creativity will take place at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica, on Monday 15 January 2018, 9am-5pm.

This conferences builds on the success of two previous sessions held at the University of Birmingham (23 May 2016) and the University of Leeds (8 March 2017) in the UK.

A PDF of the provisional conference programme for 15 January can be downloaded here.

The conference will open with a welcome message and introduction by CARISCC’s Principal Investigator, Dr Patricia Noxolo. This will be followed by a keynote lecture from Dr Susan Mains (Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Dundee, UK), titled “Moving Caribbeans: Migration, Tourism and In/Secure Mobilities.”

We are delighted the following eight research papers by postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers will be presented throughout the day, grouped into three panel sessions:

Panel Session 1

  • “The prospects for evidence based sustainable development policies in Small Island Developing countries,” presented by Aleia Ahyoung, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica
  • “Parent-Child Reunification as a Consequence of Remigration among Trinidadian Transnational Families,” presented by Dr Mala Jokhan, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago
  • “Challenges for Coastal Adaptation in Negril, Western Jamaica,” presented by Tashanna Walker, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA

Panel Session 2

  • “Machine-gun sonics and whispering tides: how sound and language in the work of Kamau Brathwaite and Mighty Sparrow provide acoustic inoculation against insecurities,” presented by Dr Mark Harris, University of Cincinnati, USA, and Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
  • “The Upper House, The Lower House, and the Jamettes: How an insecure, degrading title secured its place as one of the world’s most famous celebrated national festivals,” presented by Keri Johnson, University of Trinidad and Tobago
  • “The Portrayal of Women and Men in Caribbean music. Re-framing the lens using a gendered perspective,” presented by Dr Meagan Sylvester, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago

Panel Session 3

  • “Four Women, For Women: Caribbean Artists Reimag(in)ing the Fine Art Canon and Shifting Paradigms,” presented by Dr Carol Ann Dixon, University of Birmingham, UK
  • “Out of One, Many People? – Visual Culture and the Politics of Difference in Kingston, Jamaica,” presented by Tracian Meikle, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Copies of these abstracts will be posted online via the CARISCC blog during the first week in January. In addition, a live online discussion will also take place one week before the conference to enable contributing speakers, delegates, members of the CARISCC Research Network and other interested parties to review, reflect on and raise questions about the topics and themes in advance of the presentations.

If you would like to contribute to the live discussion (scheduled for Monday 8 January 2018, 1-3pm GMT), please return to this page to access the link to the conference abstracts and submit your comments online. We will also be using the Twitter hashtag #CARISCC during the live debate to enable these conversations to continue via social media.

We look forward to welcoming you to the online discussion in early January, and wish all our contributors and delegates a successful CARISCC Postgraduate Conference in Jamaica on 15 January 2018.

Further information about the CARISCC conference can also be obtained by sending an email to Carol Ann Dixon (CARISCC Network Facilitator):


Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: