EVENT Nov 30
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Professor Camilla Stevens

Categories: Postcolonial, American, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, French, British, Genre & Form, World Literatures, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Medieval, Early Modern & Renaissance, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, 20th & 21st Century, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
Event Date: 2023-11-30 Abstract Due: 2023-04-30


Edited Volume: The Coloniality of Catastrophe in Caribbean Theatre and Performance

Editors: Camilla Stevens (Rutgers University) and Jon Rossini (UC-Davis)

This collection illuminates the interweaving of coloniality and catastrophe in the Caribbean and its diasporas through the lens of theatre and performance. The Caribbean has routinely experienced natural disasters, such as the 1902 Mount Pelée volcanic eruption in Martinique, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and hurricanes Katrina (New Orleans 2005) and Maria (Puerto Rico 2017), to name a few 20th and 21st century examples. Beyond natural disasters, political upheaval, armed conflict, economic hardship, refugee and migrant crises, gender violence, and public health emergencies have had catastrophic effects on Caribbean societies. While these events are often framed as discrete ruptures, catastrophes have a past, present, and future; they are embedded in history, in Europe’s first contact with the Americas, and have long-term consequences. Decolonial philosopher Nelson Maldonado-Torres notes that in the Caribbean, coloniality, the structures and enduring legacies of European colonialism, can be understood as “metaphysical, demographic, and environmental catastrophe, that is, as a major ‘downturn’ in the definition of peoples, the environment, and the very basic coordinates of what constitutes a human world.”1

The Caribbean continues to be marked by European and US colonial practices, as well as the ongoing crises created by the structured dependency and the manufacture of debt and humanitarian crises emerging from the violence of neglect, the refusal of meaningful, sustained, consistent engagement toward liberatory futures, and an implicit and explicit sense of Caribbean geographies markets ripe for extraction. Following Naomi Klein’s formulation of disaster capitalism, catastrophe has been used to justify political, material, and social interventions that under the guise of assistance or transformation, have typically been in the service of sustaining, reinforcing, or restructuring forms of coloniality.

This volume takes special note of the unique interventions of theatre and performance from the English-, Spanish-, French-, Creole, and Dutch-Caribbean in exploring with audiences counter catastrophic modes of survival and innovative world making. By employing a specific focus on the alternative possibilities inherent in performance, this collection aims to call attention to the ways in which performance reveals the deliberately constructed roots of catastrophe and offers strategies to live and imagine otherwise.

[1] “Afterward: Critique and Decoloniality in the Face of Crisis, Disaster and Catastrophe” in The Aftershocks of Disaster, eds. Bonilla and LeBrón, 338.

We encourage contributors to consider the following guiding questions, among others:

·       How and why does the Caribbean (and its diasporas) offer particularly rich sites to unpack the multiple threads of coloniality?

·       Why are theatre and performance powerful forms to engage with the coloniality of catastrophe? How do theatre and performance specifically bring public and political consciousness to catastrophe? How can they contribute to “counter catastrophic” thought and lay bare the coloniality of disaster?

·       How do performances about catastrophe imagine modes of survival or conceptions of world building that an alternative means of engaging with coloniality? In what ways do these understandings of catastrophe and coloniality intersect with inquiries posed by disaster studies, human rights studies, decolonial studies, trauma studies, memory studies, and the environmental humanities, for example?

·       What are ethics of transforming unspeakable tragedies into art forms? What are the potential dangers of disaster discourse? Who speaks for whom?

We welcome expansive understandings of catastrophe and a wide variety of case studies that employ different approaches. Achieving balanced regional coverage will be one criteria in selecting essays.  

We invite authors to submit a 300-to-500-word abstract to both editors by April 30, 2023.

Please send proposals and inquiries to:

Camilla Stevens: camilla.stevens@rutgers.edu

Jon Rossini: jdrossini@ucdavis.edu

Essays invited to contribute to the volume will write 6,000-word essays, including notes and bibliography. The final essays will be due no earlier than November 30, 2023.








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