Keynote Speakers J. Michael Dash, Professor of French, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University Charles Forsdick



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Caribbean Enlightenment

An Interdisciplinary Caribbean Studies Conference

8th to 10th April 2010, University of Glasgow
Keynote Speakers

J. Michael Dash, Professor of French, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool

Paget Henry, Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies, Brown University

Nick Nesbitt, Centre for Modern Thought, University of Aberdeen
Call for Papers

In a speech widely regarded as instigating the series of events that would lead to the overthrow of the Lescot government in 1946, André Breton’s proclamation of Haiti’s ‘inalienable enthusiasm for liberty and its affirmation of dignity above all obstacles’ articulated the enduring revolutionary conviction in the Enlightenment-inspired principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. This artistic, cultural and political expression of a universal right to freedom and self-determination reflects the diverse and complex ways in which Enlightenment ideals have found expression in the Caribbean. From the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 to The Black Jacobins, surrealism, négritude, and the contemporary writings of such theorists as Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Édouard Glissant, and Wilson Harris, the interrogation of universality has both contributed to the ongoing dissemination and creolization of Enlightenment discourse and has subjected it to a thorough critique. This conference aims to explore the various ways in which the site of the Caribbean, with its writers, artists, revolutionaries, and diverse peoples, has adapted and questioned the legacies of the Enlightenment. Acknowledging the Caribbean’s crucial role in the Atlantic world, the Enlightenment’s hi story of empire building and slave rebellions, colonial domination and postcolonial nation-building, the valorization of reason and its role in the division of knowledge, will be interrogated against the dissemination of a discourse promoting universal human rights, democracy and equality.


This conference seeks to bring together interdisciplinary perspectives on Enlightenment themes, both historical and contemporary, in order to trace the spread of a universalist discourse across the Caribbean. We hope to bring together Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanophone perspectives that explore figurations of the universal within the Caribbean context. Noting the region’s national and linguistic divides, this conference will expose the ways in which Enlightenment ideals have been adapted to express the particular experience of the Caribbean peoples. Finally, we pose the question: ‘Does the commitment to universalism amount to a totalizing discourse, or can universalism be revisioned?’
We invite papers and panel suggestions that deal with any aspect of Caribbean Enlightenment, but which may include:
Reason and Rule of Law

Revolutions and uprisings

Shortcomings of the Enlightenment: slavery and racism

Development of ‘improvement’ in technologies, medicine and language

Universal Human Rights, Democracy, Marxism, Self-determination

Economics of Caribbean Enlightenment

The impact of surrealism

Négritude and the universal

Appraisals of The Black Jacobins

Contemporary Caribbean literature/philosophy and universality ‘revisioned’

Gendered, gay, racial, and class perspectives on universality

Religion and the Caribbean



Caribbean thought and ‘post-continental’ philosophy.
Please send panel proposals and/or paper abstracts (300 words) with a brief biographical statement (150 words) to Lorna Burns and Michael Morris at caribbeanenlightenment@googlemail.com by 1st December 2009.
A limited number of postgraduate travel bursaries are available by application. Further details & a full call for papers are available at www.gla.ac.uk/caribbeanenlightenment

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