Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Caribbean Globalizations: Histories, Cultures and Genres, 1493 to the Present Day," Oriel College, University of Oxford, September 27-29, 2010.

This conference aims to map and analyse the multiple engagements of various Caribbean countries with the complex and vexed process that is ‘globalization' since 1493 (when Columbus landed in Guadeloupe). The region has undoubtedly been the source of a number of the literary-critical paradigms by which we understand this process. Examples of these include: ‘Créolité', ‘creolisation', ‘la relation', ‘the Commonwealth', ‘world literature', ‘the Black Atlantic' and ‘littérature-monde'. However, as the recent disturbances in Guadeloupe and Martinique have suggested, Caribbean countries are also actively rethinking their own identity and place in a world where the Western economic model of globalization is more in question than ever. Similarly, in the cultural sphere, the effects of this process on the region have been the subject of a growing and divergent debate.

‘Caribbean globalizations' seeks to make an intervention in this debate by focussing critical attention on the differing engagements with globalization produced in the Caribbean cultural field. The cultural field has long been a particularly fertile arena for Caribbean globalizations. The diversity that characterizes the cultural and social realities of the region – arguably forged in the context of earlier forms of globalizations – has been an enduring source of inspiration for Caribbean artists, writers, and intellectuals. At the same time, their work has expressed a preoccupation with generating theoretical and aesthetic frameworks – globalization being, perhaps the first among equals – to account for the specificities of their societies as well as the shifting range of ‘relations' that these societies maintain both within and beyond the ‘Caribbean region'. The conference aims therefore to foster a wide-ranging discussion of the possibilities presented by Caribbean cultural production for reflecting upon and re-imagining the idea of globalization. It will seek to explore the multiple engagements with – and representations of – this phenomenon by Caribbean writers, artists, and intellectuals and, as such, interdisciplinary and comparative approaches (bringing together the different languages spoken in the region) are encouraged.

The following themes will serve as starting points to guide the process of reflection and the expectation is that they would be interpreted as broadly as possible:

  • Histories: How do Caribbean artists, writers, and intellectuals represent and situate globalization within the history of the region? What alternative histories of globalization are presented in their works? How is the idea of a Caribbean ‘history' itself represented?
  • Geographies: How can the ‘Caribbean region' be defined? What types of geographies do Caribbean artists create and enact in their work? How do these engage with and/or re-shape current geographical configurations of the ‘West' and ‘the Caribbean', the ‘Mother country' or the ‘metropolitan space' and ‘the colonies', ‘home' and ‘adopted country', in a globalized world
  • Languages: What role does language play in the processes of Caribbean globalization? To what extent does it challenge or uphold traditional dichotomies between ‘mother tongue' and ‘foreign tongue'?
  • Cultures: How are the relations between globalization and the culture of the Caribbean to be understood? To what extent are notions of ‘highbrow' and ‘lowbrow', ‘indigenous' and ‘foreign', ‘local' and ‘global' challenged or re-configured?
  • Genres: To what extent are traditional generic categories respected, challenged or re-invented by Caribbean artists and intellectuals? Can such engagements be situated historically and culturally within the processes of globalization?
  • Identities: How is a globalized Caribbean identity represented and re-imagined? And how is ‘globalization' itself to be defined in a Caribbean context?
  • Theories: What is the role of ‘theory' in defining ‘the Caribbean' and/or its relationship to the globalized world? To what extent are distinctions between ‘indigenous theories' and ‘foreign borrowings' relevant?
Further information may be found here:

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