Small Axe: A Journal of Caribbean Criticism focuses on publishing critical work that examines the ideas that guided the formation of Caribbean modernities. It mainly includes scholarly articles, opinion essays, and interviews, but also includes literary works of fiction and poetry, visual arts, and reviews. Through the Small Axe Project its contributors aim “to participate both in the renewal of practices of intellectual and cultural criticism in the Caribbean and in the expansion and revision of the scope and horizons of such criticism – acknowledging a tradition of criticism in and about the regional and diasporic Caribbean.”
The symposium ‘Our (Queer) Caribbean’ co-organised by Prof. Thomas Glave, Race in the Americas (RITA), and the Centre for Integrated Caribbean Research will take place on 26th October 2018, at Senate House, University of London.
The keynote address will be delivered by Prof. Alison Donnell, and there will be a roundtable discussion featuring Philip Dayle, Thomas Glave, Dorothea Smartt and Laurence Scott.
The symposium will explore: How have Caribbean queer perspectives and Caribbean LGBTQI activism changed since Our Caribbean (Glave ed. 2008)? What new insights and social/political realities have emerged since the publication of this ground-breaking collection of queer writing from the Antilles?
How have Caribbean queer perspectives and Caribbean LGBTQI activism changed since Our Caribbean? What new insights and social/political realities have emerged since the publication of this ground-breaking 2008 collection of queer writing from the Antilles?
Copies of the ‘birthday book’, the Our Caribbean anthology, will be on sale during the symposium, at a discounted price of £21.00, and can be signed by some of the contributors and the editor, Thomas Glave, who we are delighted to welcome to Senate House.
As a prelude to developing a new research proposal for 2019, and beyond, CARISCC’s principal investigator (Dr Patricia Noxolo) convened and hosted a planning and consultation event at the University of Birmingham, 12-13th September 2018. The two-day programme included presentations of research papers and portfolios of creative practice that catalysed important and wide-ranging discussions about the complex relations between in/security and creative agency in people’s everyday lives.
An overview of the presentations given by three guest contributors from the Caribbean region are summarised below.
(1) ‘Who are you? : Finding identity in Post-independent Barbados’ – presented by museologist Kevin Farmer, Deputy Director, Barbados Museum & Historical Society.
In this presentation Kevin Farmer discussed the founding of Barbados Museum and Historical Society in 1933, the development of the institution’s extensive artefact collections and a review of its nationally and internationally significant archival holdings dating back to the 1600s. He also discussed the museum’s changing role as a post-independent space for presenting and discussing difficult histories, as well as how heritage professionals within Barbados and the other islands and nations of the wider Caribbean region are responding to the inter-linked geo-political, socio-economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Kevin commented on how issues concerning people’s changing personal and collective sense of identity have been key discourses before and since colonisation, and that many museums in the region (including those like BMHS established during the colonial era, as well as post-independent institutions, such as the People’s Museum of Craft and Technology, Spanish Town, Jamaica, established in the early 1960s) are now emerging as important heritage spaces where such narratives can be presented and explored in all their pluralities, and viewed through what was referred to as “the lens of structures created for colonial and post-colonial representation of self.”
The presentation concluded with details about international partnerships and projects already established with universities, other educational institutions and heritage organisations in the region, and beyond. BMHS archival holdings pertaining to histories of enslavement and emancipation in Barbados – as detailed online in the UNESCO Memory of the World listings concerning the ‘Documentary Heritage of Enslaved People of the Caribbean’ – were highlighted as particularly significant research resources for future collaborative work between BMHS and CARISCC network members.
(2) ‘Kibri A Kulturu: Arts and Culture for Development’ – presented by Surinamese contemporary visual artist Marcel Pinas (via Skype from the Netherlands)
Internationally renowned visual artist Marcel Pinas joined the consultation session via Skype from Amsterdam, and gave an illustrated talk about his portfolio of watercolour paintings, collages, sculptures and mixed-media installations. Examples of his artwork were presented alongside information about the Maroon history and heritage of the Ndjuka community in eastern Suriname from which he hails, as well as updates about a number of important educational projects, cultural festivals, sustainably funded arts and crafts initiatives and other community development programmes he has helped to establish in the Marowijne district over the past few decades.
The artist’s early career began at the Nola Hatterman Art Institute in Paramaribo, followed by studies at Anton de Kom University, Paramaribo, and a three-year scholarship at Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica (1997-1999). Marcel’s residency in Jamaica was described as pivotal to the development of what has now become his signature technique of creating paintings and sculptures inscribed with Afaka symbols – a West African inspired syllabary of 56 characters, named after its Surinamese inventor Afaka Atumisi that was researched and developed in c.1910 to formally document the Ndjuka language.
Since the mid-1990s Marcel has taught fine art at Nola Hatterman Art Academy, and has also presented a number of high-profile solo and group exhibitions at galleries and biennales in Guiana, Cuba, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Successful fundraising initiatives achieved through partnerships with charitable institutions and revenue from the sale of his own artwork enabled Marcel to set up the Kibii Wi Foundation and TAS – Tembe Art Studio in Moengo in 2010 to provide training and support for emerging local artists from this area. His entrepreneurship and strong commitment to arts education also encouraged him to develop a series of cultural festivals promoting the music, dance and visual arts of Moengo to national and international audiences.
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.
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.’
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.
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 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”→
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.
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.
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 https://macbirmingham.co.uk/exhibition/from-a-small-island.
For further information, please also write to CARISCC’s Network Facilitator (Dr Carol Ann Dixon) c/o the University of Birmingham: C.A.Dixon@bham.ac.uk.
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
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 […]
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 […]
The fourth stage of CARISCC’s touring display – ‘Negotiating Caribbean In/Securities through Creativity: A Research and Art Exhibition’ – was hosted at Union 105 (East Street Arts), Chapeltown Road in Leeds, between Monday 23 October and Friday 27 October 2017.
This stage of the tour was particularly important because it marked a return to the city of Leeds, whose Caribbean diaspora communities had helped to inspire the development of a newly commissioned sculptural installation by contemporary visual artist Sonia E. Barrett when she visited the city earlier this year.
Sonia’s thought-provoking installation piece – ‘The Difficult Conversation’ (2017) – was the focal point of the art exhibition, and featured pieces of wooden chairs, deconstructed and suspended from the ceiling to create a representation of human corporeality that poignantly signified the fragility and precariy of lives held in suspension by factors such as poverty, social exclusion, injustice, political marginalisation and the traumatic impacts and legacies of racism.
Other works featured in the exhibition were presented as part of a PowerPoint of images projected on the wall, and also as part of a looped sequence of video clips, photographic stills and digitized reproductions playing on a TV monitor in the exhibition space. Individual pieces by twelve contemporary visual artists with Caribbean heritage who had submitted entries for the CARISCC Art Competition during 2016 were shown in this digital display, including: figurative photo montage pieces and film-based installations by Sireita Mullings; the painting ‘Stick-Lick Dancers Parade’ by Paul Dash, featuring representations of street carnival masquerade performances; mixed-media collage work by Gina A. Smith, using the shape of a goat as a silhouette around which different images were layered to reference the impacts and vulnerabilities of global changes on the agricultural sector in the Caribbean region; and excerpts from the documentary film ‘Shashamane’ by Giulia Amati, which recounts the story of Rastas who have returned to continental Africa from Jamaica to live in the promised land of Shashamane, Ethiopia.
A launch event for the exhibition was held on Monday 23 October, attended by (among others) local artists and other residents from the Chapeltown area, scholars and students from the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University, organisers and contributors to Leeds Carnival, representatives of the Leeds West Indian Centre Charitable Trust and alumni from the nearby Northern School of Contemporary Dance.
Following introductory presentations from CARISCC’s Principal Investigator, Dr Patricia Noxolo, and CARISCC Network Member Dr Anyaa Anim-Addo (Lecturer in Caribbean History, University of Leeds) the attending guests also enjoyed an inspirational poetic performance by local writer, theatre producer and spoken word artist Khadijah Ibrahiim.
One of Khadijah’s current creative writing projects involves researching the history, cultural legacies and spiritual practices of Obeah in Jamaica, so the audience heard a reading from a recently drafted prose piece by her, titled ‘Duppy know who fi frighten!’ This excellent presentation (read in English and Jamaican Patois) was performed as a ‘Call-and-Response’ piece, with guests invited to join in with the refrain. Khadijah’s work subsequently catalysed wide-ranging discussions about how African-influenced and syncretic spiritual practices in the Caribbean – such as Obeah, Santeria and Rastafarianism, etc. – have continued to inform and inspire the ever-changing hybrid forms of artistic and creative expression that exist in the islands and nations of the region today, as well as throughout the wider global diaspora. Some examples discussed at the event included the way styles of music, drumming practices, dancehall choreography, spoken word performances and contemporary manifestations of street carnivals – from Junkanoo through to Jouvert [J’ouvert] – celebrate the spiritual and affective/emotional experience of transcendence into alternative (and many would say ‘higher’) states of being.
As with all the previous stages of the touring exhibition, the CARISCC Network established links with important contacts in Leeds who are actively involved in developing African and Caribbean diaspora arts and culture initiatives. Some examples of the organisations with which Network members are now in contact include:
Remember Oluwale – a charitable organisation who are fundraising to build a Garden of Hope in the centre of Leeds, in memory of Nigerian migrant David Oluwale who died in the city in tragic circumstances during 1969 – http://www.rememberoluwale.org/
Organisers of the Leeds Carnival and contributors to the new book ‘Celebrate! 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival,’ by Guy Farrar, Tim Smith and Max Farrar (with a foreword by Arthur France MBE, founder of the Leeds Carnival) – http://www.leedscarnival.co.uk/.
The final stage of the CARISCC touring art exhibition will take place at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham during May and June 2018.
For further information about CARISCC, please also feel free to write to Dr Carol Ann Dixon (CARISCC Network Facilitator) c/o C.A.Dixon@bham.ac.uk.
Conference venue: The Blue Room, Mona Conference Centre, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingston, Jamaica
Date: Monday 15 January 2018, 9am – 5pm
Convener: Dr Patricia Noxolo, University of Birmingham, UK
Many scholars have highlighted the creative practices that Caribbean people routinely deploy in the face of insecurity caused by poverty, inequality, environmental challenges and violence. Although questions of Caribbean security and insecurity are often addressed as matters of governmental or military concern, this conference seeks to explore reconceptualisations of security and insecurity (in/security) through creativity.
We are interested in creativity in a broad sense, including artistic practices such as literature, film, theatre, dance, music and visual arts, but also the creative ways in which people live their lives (e.g. balance budgets, interpret policy, and perform politics).
In examining the links between precariousness and creativity, this CARISCC conference aims to bring together new approaches to the study of global security.
Therefore, CARISCC welcomes research papers and presentations which explore how in/security, as experienced and negotiated by ordinary people, informs creative and cultural practices in the Caribbean region.
This one-day interdisciplinary conference welcomes abstracts from scholars whose research concerns any aspect of Caribbean in/securities and creativity.
We particularly welcome presentation proposals / research papers that address (but are not limited to) the following topics and themes:
Creativity in negotiating livelihood in/securities;
Historical and contemporary in/securities and creativities;
In/secure transport(s) and mobilities;
In/security in visual and performance arts;
Reading and writing in/security;
Raced, gendered and sexual identities, in/security and creativity; and
Rural and urban in/securities and creativities.
In addition to scheduling three panel sessions (each comprising 3-4 papers / presentations), the conference also intends to offer:
Four travel bursaries (up to £500 GBP/$ 650 USD per person) to support conference attendance by a postdoctoral researcher or PhD candidate from within the Caribbean region who is not currently based at UWI Mona Campus in Jamaica;
Two keynote presentations – delivered by Dr Susan Mains (Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Dundee, UK, and CARISCC Network Member) and a guest scholar / arts practitioner invited from within the Caribbean region;
A welcome address from Dr Pat Noxolo (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Birmingham, UK, and CARISCC’s Principal Investigator);
Refreshments and lunch.
Abstract Submission Guidelines
Please send abstracts of200-300 words (in English) to Dr Patricia Noxolo (firstname.lastname@example.org), using the subject heading “CARISCC Postgraduate Conference.” Please include your university affiliation details, your preferred email address and a short biography of up to 150 words. It is anticipated that each presentation/research paper will last 10-15 minutes; and updated programme details will be released prior to the date of the conference to confirm presentation requirements and duration.
If you would like to apply for a travel bursary, please attach, with your abstract, a short statement (no more than 300 words) on the relevance of the conference theme to your research, the reasons why you need a bursary to attend, as well as your estimated expenses.
The deadline for submitting abstracts and 150-word biographies (as well as bursary applications) is Friday 24 November 2017.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Patricia Noxolo
CARISCC Conference Convener and Principal Investigator