CFP: Discourse: Special Issue, "After Glissant: Caribbean Aesthetics and the Politics of Relation"

Kahlil Chaar's picture

Call for Papers:  Discourse – Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture
Deadline 15 January 2014

Special Issue: After Glissant: Caribbean Aesthetics and the Politics of Relation

Two recent events have left an undeniable imprint on the critical analysis of Caribbean literary and cultural studies: the February 2011 passing of Martinican writer Édouard Glissant, perhaps the most influential Caribbean intellectual in the last fifty years, and the June 2012 opening of Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, an unprecedented, three-museum art exhibit in New York City that sought to showcase the cultural genealogies of the Antillean region and its diasporic offshoots.  Throughout five theme-based segments that examined aesthetic creation through the frameworks of race, ethnicity, nationality, geography, and popular culture,Crossroads of the World follows a deliberately fragmentary structure that echoes Glissant’s ideas on the Caribbean.  Instead of experiencing the exhibit as what he calls in Caribbean Discourse “the linear, hierarchical vision of a single History,” spectators were confronted with an accumulation of “subterranean convergences” that traced cultural continuities not only between the archipelago and the continental territories that constitute the basin, but also with the metropolis.  Unsurprisingly, the exhibit catalogue’s main chapters conclude with an excerpt from Caribbean Discourse.  This textual fragment, which can be read as a memorial site in honor of Glissant, marks the significance of his vision not only for the curation of the show, but for Caribbean aesthetics as a “whole.”

The spirit of Glissant continues to stimulate creative and scholarly work on the historical fragments and possible futures that constitute the Caribbean’s heterogeneous cultural singularity: from the violent shocks of colonialism and the slave-based plantation system to the also violent dislocations experienced and represented by its peoples under neoliberal capitalism. Yet while scholars and artists carry on creatively appropriating Glissant’s theories, a new generation of cultural producers seeks to interrogate and transform the ways the region has been imagined and represented. Critical voices have also emerged from diverse fields to problematize the historical, cultural, political valence of Glissant’s work, especially his late writings, accusing him of abandoning the politics of decolonization he championed in his younger days and replacing it with an exclusively cultural and poetic vision.

Inspired by this debate and by how it performs ongoing tensions between aesthetics and politics within the field, we invite critical interventions that seek to analyze and explore Caribbean cultural production from the vantage point of this post-Glissantian moment.  What is the relationship of the Caribbean to colonial and post-colonial studies? In what new directions is Caribbean cultural production headed, directions that Glissant could not or did not anticipate?  What new understandings can we bring to the Glissantian understanding of History, or to such terms as “relation,” “filiation” and “diversion” (détour)?

Articles should be no longer than 7,500 words, and should be formatted according to the Chicago Style (Humanities) Format.


Kahlil Chaar-Pérez (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University) -

Emily A. Maguire (Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Northwestern University) -