Suzanne Césaire's essays in Tropiques make an important intervention in imagining a new Martinican and ultimately Pan-Caribbean identity during World War II. This study examines Césaire's joint politics and poetics of liberation in the context of dissidence in Martinique. A close reading of her essays alongside previously uncited personal correspondence reveals Haiti to be central to her vision for a Caribbean cultural renaissance after the death and destruction of the war.
Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel is an assistant professor of French and faculty affiliate in Africana studies at the University of Arizona. Her areas of research specialization include contemporary Caribbean literatures, cultural movements of the African diaspora, and the Enlightenment in the French Atlantic world. Her work has appeared in Slavery and Abolition, the French Review, and Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International.
Nahum Chandler, in his remarkably evocative book X—The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought, works with the Derridean idea of the exorbitant to argue that W. E. B. Du Bois's thinking exceeds and transforms the terms of Western critical thought on modernity. Du Bois is credited with conceptualizing the idea of “the Negro” as derivable from the formations of colonial and racialized modernity, which as formations are conventionally foreclosed by Western critical thought. In the spirit of a Derridean supplement to Chandler's argument, this essay suggests Chandler's otherwise compelling account of Du Bois nevertheless obscures an alternative, conceptually richer way in which Du Bois's thought is exorbitant to his own thinking on the question of race. This involves understanding the constitution of race as a colonial-political practice that is named here as “race governance.”
Barnor Hesse teaches in the Department of African American Studies, Northwestern University. He is the editor of Un/Settled Multiculturalisms: Diasporas, Entanglements, Transruptions(2000) and the author of Creolizing the Political: Western Lineages of Raceocracy, forthcoming from Duke University Press.
This essay explores the making of a radical cultural politics amid the global crisis of the 1930s and 1940s through a study of the life and work of dancer Si-lan Chen. Born in Trinidad to Afro-Caribbean and Chinese parents, trained as a ballerina in Moscow, and an active supporter of Chinese and other anti-imperialist movements, Chen toured the global South, worked in the United States, and returned to the West Indies during the early 1940s to play an integral role in the making of a transnational Caribbean cultural politics. Sine's research traces how Chen continually defied the racial, gender, national, and aesthetic boundaries she encountered in her life as she advanced a radical political vision that was global in its scope as well as its aspirations. Sine highlights how Chen challenged the rationalist premises governing modern, Western thought and stressed the interconnectivity of global popular emancipatory movements.
Elizabeth E. Sine teaches in the History Department at the University of California. She researches and publishes on culture, race, labor, and social movements in the transnational history of the United States and is completing her first book, “The Poetry of Rebellion: Radical Imaginations in Great Depression–Era California.”
The Black Scholar (TBS), established in 1969, emerged from a public confluence of black political and cultural movements—black power, black arts, Pan-Africanism and decolonization, black feminism, and the emergence of a black political class. As primary intellectual organ to that confluence, it had to be broad based and rooted in the stridency of demand and the humility of exchange. TBS relaunched in 2012, and its new editor, Louis Chude-Sokei, saw his challenges as, first, making sure the journal did not die, and second, alerting scholars—particularly of his generation and younger—that it had not died and could be a viable option for their efforts and, in time, a preferable one.
Louis Chude-Sokei is a scholar and writer who currently teaches in the Department of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. His scholarly work includes the award-winning book The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black on Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and the recently published The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2015). He is the editor in chief of The Black Scholar.
This essay, more a series of observations, explores the history and politics of the media and analysis online site Africa Is a Country(africasacountry.com), which the author founded in 2009. Exploring changes to the blogosphere and social media and their implications for websites focusing on the African continent and its diaspora, the essay makes reference to the historical antecedents of cultural journals, both online and offline, including Transition, Kwani!, and Chimurenga Chronic, and debates some of the challenges facing online publishing, such as editorial control, management, political orientation, and focus.
Sean Jacobs is an associate professor of international affairs at the New School in New York. He is the founder and chief editor of the media and analysis site Africa Is a Country. His work focuses on the intersection of politics and popular culture. He is a native of Cape Town, South Africa.
Beyond the traditional work that journals and editors are responsible for, the editors of Small Axe and Anthurium have also undertaken institution building through knowledge production. This might well be the kind of development of communications networks that Hardt and Negri refer to as “an organic relationship to the emergence of new world order.” In this case, the new world order is institutional structures that determine where, when, and in what context certain conversations about power, access, and social change can and should occur. What is most striking, however, is that (in Caribbean studies) this work began with concerted efforts by scholars, institution builders, and editors such as Sandra Pouchet Paquet, and still continues some two generations later. However, given the nature of this work and the length of time it has continued, it is critical that we consider whether the need for this work to be done by journal editors reflects a need for more institutional structures that have the resources to share the weight of this level of institution building and to sustain it over time.
Patricia Joan Saunders is an associate professor of English at the University of Miami and senior editor of Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal. She is the author of Alienation and Repatriation: Translating Identity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2007) and the coeditor of Music. Memory. Resistance: Calypso and the Literary Imagination (2007). Her new book, Buyers Beware: Epistemologies of Consumption in Caribbean Popular Culture, is forthcoming from Rutgers University Press.
By reflecting on running the open-access online “race” journal darkmatter, the author examines the crisis of academic journal publishing. This crisis is manifested by the transformations in the economics of journal production, especially with the rise of open-access publishing and the neoliberalization of the academy; the developments in digital communications; and the global consolidation of Western corporate publishing power in “info-capitalism.” The evolution of darkmatter is poised in terms of negotiating this crisis as opportunity and risk. The digital journal is able to produce a range of multimedia outputs addressing the interdisciplinary fields of race and postcolonial study. The challenge of emerging Web projects and the proliferation of online information potentially repositions darkmatter as the privileged site for the publication of scholarly research. The essay speculates on this critical journal in a time of “information overload” as a site of “autonomous resistance” in the increasing commodification of knowledge.
Ashwani Sharma is principal lecturer in media and cultural studies at the University of East London, UK. He teaches and researches on race, visual culture, and postcolonial and cultural theory. He coedited Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music (1996) and is completing a collection of essays, Race and Visual Culture in Global Times, to be published by Bloomsbury. He coedits the journal darkmatter (www.darkmatter101.org), where he edited the special issue “Post-Racial Imaginaries” and “The Wire Files,” on the television series The Wire.
Para el Caribe, lugar histórico de tantos desencuentros, las revistas han sido una importante alternativa para conectar y comunicar, para superar las distancias y acercar las inquietudes, para construir trayectos culturales y movilizar una dinámica de relaciones que en muchas ocasiones fue de vínculos intelectuales, los que fueron favorecidos y estimulados por las plataformas revisteras en diversos momentos de la cultura en la región.
Yolanda Wood is a professor of history of art at the University of Havana, where she founded the chair in Caribbean art studies in 1985. Her most recent book is Islas del Caribe: Naturaleza-arte-sociedad (2012). She has served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, University of Havana (1994–2000); as vice-chancellor of the Instituto Superior de Arte in Cuba (1985–91); and as Cuban cultural advisor in Paris (2000–05). She was the director of the Caribbean Studies Centre and Anales del Caribe at Casa de las Américas (2006–16) and now serves as an advisor.
Work on Sargasso as an independent journal of Caribbean literature, language, and culture began at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in 1983. After a successful, but not uncomplicated, launching of its first issue in 1984, the journal received support and contributions from important anglophone Caribbean figures such as Kamau Brathwaite, George Lamming, Gordon K. Lewis, and Lorna Goodison. Major Puerto Rican writers such as Luis Rafael Sánchez, Pedro Juan Soto, and Ana Lydia Vega were featured in early issues as well. After publishing nine issues in a bound letter-page format, Sargasso 10 displayed the six-by-nine-inch, glossy-cover format it has since maintained. It became the official journal of the university's new PhD program in Caribbean literature and linguistics in 2000. Sargasso maintains its intercultural, interdisciplinary, and multilingual focus on Caribbean creativity and culture, and it stands as one of the premier journals at the University of Puerto Rico.
Lowell Fiet was educated at the University of Wisconsin and has taught at the University of Puerto Rico–Río Piedras since 1978. His dozens of reviews, articles, and books focus on Caribbean and Puerto Rican theater, drama, and performance. He is the founding editor of Sargasso, and for many years he coordinated the UPR–Río Piedras PhD program in Caribbean literature and linguistics and now directs the university’s Institute of Caribbean Studies. His current work focuses on festival and carnival masks.
Part of a special section titled “What Is Journal Work?,” this reflective essay discusses the ethical questions of editing sx salon: a small axe literary platform. The author's goal in the essay is twofold: to make transparent the work of journal work, the hours of labor that often remain invisible in our culture of individual authorship; and to emphasize the moments during this work when “care,” a concept the author develops throughout the essay, is imperative to a humane process in producing an academic publication.
Kelly Baker Josephs is an associate professor of English at York College, CUNY. She is the author of Disturbers of the Peace: Representations of Insanity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2013), editor of sx salon: a small axe literary platform, and manager of The Caribbean Commons website. Her current project, “Caribbean Articulations: Storytelling in a Digital Age,” explores the intersections between new technologies and Caribbean cultural production.
Journals have played a central role in the formation of intellectual communities throughout Asia since modern times. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements, launched in 2000, is no exception, except that it has attempted to connect with local intellectual circles and to build a multilayered international network in the region to overcome divisions and boundaries produced by the history of neo/colonialism and the cold war. Over the past sixteen years, the journal work has generated an archive of knowledge, a society, and a consortium of institutions to organize a biennial conference and a summer school, and it has established an Inter-Asia School to launch regional projects inside/outside the universities. However, the Inter-Asia Network is not yet a cohesive community capable of developing an analytical framework beyond nation-states from the angle of the continent as a whole, and of linking with its counterparts in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Kuan-Hsing Chen is a coexecutive editor of the journal Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements and a professor in the Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. His recent publications include Asia as Method: Towards Deimperialization (2010). He has been involved in organizing West Heaven: India-China Intellectual Dialogues (2010–), Asian Circle of Thought Forum (2012), Modern Asian Thought (2012–), and the Bandung/Third World Sixty Years series (2015).
Nari Ward (whose work also appears on the covers of this issue) is a Jamaican-born, New York–based artist whose work has been widely exhibited, including in his solo exhibitions at the Institute of Visual Arts, Milwaukee (1997); the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2001, 2000); the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2011); and the Pérez Art Museum, Miami (2015). He has also taken part in group exhibitions that include Documenta XI, Kassel (2003); the Whitney Biennial (2006); and Prospect 1 New Orleans (2008). In 2012, Ward was the recipient of the Rome Prize, and he has received commissions from the United Nations and the World Health Organization, as well as awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the Pollock Krasner Foundation. His works are collected by several museums, including MoMA, Baltimore Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and the Whitney Museum.
Damian Femi René is a secondary school teacher in Castries, St. Lucia. He is an avid reader and a writer of poetry, short stories, and short plays. He looks forward to having his workpublished in the near future; he is intent on expanding the Caribbean’s literary canon and enriching it with his work.
Daisy Holder Lafond was born in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and has lived in New York, Trinidad and Tobago, and Toronto, Canada, where she studied creative writing and magazine journalism. A former newspaper editor, columnist, and magazine owner/publisher, with her work appearing in various publications, she also coauthored All This Is Love—A Collection of Virgin Islands Poetry, Art, and Prose (2009). In 2012 she received the Caribbean Writer’s Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize. A mother and grandmother, she now lives on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.
Mark Ramsay is a twenty-one-year-old fiction writer from Barbados. He is a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, with a BA in English literature. He has a bottomless affection for video games, comics, and anything that tries to triangulate the voice of the outlier.
Gabrielle Bellot grew up in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, the New York Times, the Atlantic, Slate, Guernica, VIDA, Lambda Literary, the Normal School, the Huffington Post, the Toast, the Caribbean Review of Books, and elsewhere. She is a doctoral candidate in fiction at Florida State University, where she is working on her first novel.
This essay discusses Brian Meeks's assertions on the centrality of democracy to transforming the Caribbean in his book Critical Interventions in Caribbean Politics and Theory (2014). It considers the relationship between democracy and revolution in the Caribbean in light of Meeks's optimism that democracy is the means of producing radical change in the region and given antidemocratic sentiments among the people, expressed most powerfully in low value for the human in the Jamaican context. Using Meeks's premise that ethical questions are at the heart of radical change, the essay discusses how ethical relations as shaped by race, class, and gender are relevant to Caribbean revolution, arguing that collapse might be the most significant reality that gives reason to hope for revolution and respect for the human in the contemporary Caribbean.
Maziki Thame teaches at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Her research interests and publications focus on the postcolonial Caribbean and the place of race, violence, identity, and gender in political life. She is currently working on a book project titled “Race, Myths, and Citizenship: The Politics of Identity in Jamaica, Brazil, and Barbados.”
It is now commonplace to lament the enervation of social thought and the passing of an important social figure—the critical, classical humanistic intellectual as a major actor in contemporary society. This elegy for polymath political leaders and for the presumed demise of theoretically gifted political intellectuals is heard in the United States and in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Both the quality of social thought and regard for political intellectuals as agents of transformative change are alleged to be in steep decline in these islands. Brian Meeks's recent collection of essays, Critical Interventions in Caribbean Politics and Theory (2014), addresses some of these anxieties in a critical assessment of social thought, subaltern insurgencies, and the politics of radical intellectuals in the Commonwealth Caribbean. While the collection affirms Meeks's confidence in the reinvigoration of Caribbean thought, his sympathetic account of armed minoritarian insurgencies in island states with substantive democratic freedoms raises unanswered questions about theory and social change in these societies.
Obika Gray is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is a graduate of Long Island University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned his doctorate in political science. He has published widely on Jamaican politics and is the author of Radicalism and Social Change in Jamaica, 1960–1972 (1991) and Demeaned but Empowered: The Social Power of the Urban Poor in Jamaica (2004).
In 2014, the author published a volume of essays, Critical Interventions in Caribbean Politics and Theory, which Small Axe editor David Scott proposed might form the basis for a discussion around Meeks's work and its broader contribution to debates surrounding contemporary Caribbean politics and society. Obika Gray and Maziki Thame contributed review essays, tackling many of the issues explored in the book, including the Caribbean black power movement, the Grenada Revolution and its demise, the contemporary state of Jamaican politics, Caribbean intellectual traditions, and the possible directions for Caribbean politics in the near future. While largely sympathetic to many of their comments, Meeks engages with Gray specifically around what Meeks considers Gray's minimalizing of the distinctions between radical activists of the 1970s and contemporary “Dons,” the role of Cuba in the Grenada Revolution, and Gray's underestimation of the importance of the generation born in the 1950s and 1960s for contemporary Caribbean social sciences and the humanities. Meeks then engages with Thame's proposal that there is potential for renewal in what Meeks describes, in Critical Interventions and elsewhere, as a moment of hegemonic dissolution. Meeks argues that this notion must be handled with care, since there is no easy road back to renewal and recovery from a genuine state of societal collapse.
Brian Meeks is professor and chair of Africana studies at Brown University. He has published ten books and edited collections, including Caribbean Revolutions and Revolutionary Theory: An Assessment of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Grenada (1993), Narratives of Resistance: Jamaica, Trinidad, the Caribbean (2001), Envisioning Caribbean Futures: Jamaican Perspectives (2007), and Critical Interventions in Caribbean Politics and Theory (2014). His novel Paint the Town Red was published in 2003.