CFP - Gardening in the Tropics: Ecology and Race in Caribbean Art (College Art Association, February 10-13, 2021)

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Call for Papers
September 16, 2020
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Atlantic History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies

Call for Papers: College Art Association Conference Session 2021

 February 10-13, 2021


Gardening in the Tropics: Ecology and Race in Caribbean Art

C.C. McKee, Assistant Professor of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College


Inspired by a volume from Jamaican poet Olive Senior, this panel endeavors to cultivate critical art historical methods for engaging the relationship between tropical ecology and race in artistic practices, visual and material culture from the Caribbean archipelago. Whether considering the past or the present, the environment’s most (neo-)colonial features all too often obfuscate the subaltern indigenous, African and Asian diasporic forms of being entwined with tropical nature. An array of theorists offer perspectives that bolster an environmental approach to representations of racialized being: Kamau Braithwaite’s tidalectics eschew dialectical synthesis in favor of a non-progressive existential flow where the ocean meets land. Édouard Glissant’s creolized ecology finds modes of Caribbean existence in the environment beyond a “traumatic reaction” to the ongoing legacy of slavery and indentureship. Suzanne Césaire’s theorization of the homme-plante (plant-man) contends that African diasporic life is “tied to the plant, to the vegetative cycle” to redress colonialism’s violence and valorize black culture developed under enslavement. Although the material implications of these positions abound, they predominately refer to racialized and (post-)colonial being-in-language. Embracing the region’s intrinsic heterogeneity, this panel welcomes proposals that address aesthetic engagements across historical period, national and imperial context, and artistic medium. Submissions may focus on, but are not restricted to, the following themes:

  • Marronage as an environmental ontology
  • Locating black being between the lines of natural history
  • Wage work and the acclimatization of indentured labor
  • Gender, race, and science in the kitchen garden
  • Decolonial queerness and the tropical landscape
  • Generative catastrophe in Caribbean aesthetics

Email a 150-word abstract and CV to by September 16, 2020. Proposals for both virtual and in-person presentations will be accepted and considered equally.

Contact Info: 

C.C. McKee, Assistant Professor of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College

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