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Caribbean Enlightenment: 2nd Call for Papers: deadline extended 28th February 2010

An Interdisciplinary Caribbean Studies Conference, 8th to 9th 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 UniversityKei Miller, University of Glasgow 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 governmentin 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 theongoing 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, anddiverse peoples, has adapted and questioned the legacies of the Enlightenment. Acknowledging the Caribbean’s crucial role in the Atlantic world, the Enlightenment’s history 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 andcontemporary, 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 Caribbeancontext. 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 uprisingsShortcomings of the Enlightenment: slavery and racismDevelopment of ‘improvement’ in technologies, medicine and languageUniversal Human Rights, Democracy, Marxism, Self-determination The impact of surrealismNégritude and the universalAppraisals of The Black Jacobins Contemporary Caribbean literature/philosophy and universality ‘revisioned’Gendered, gay, racial, and class perspectives on universalityReligion and the CaribbeanCaribbean thought and ‘post-continental’ philosophy.

Please send panel proposals and/or paper abstracts (300 words) with a brief biographical statement (150 words) to LornaBurns and Michael Morris at by 28th February 2010.A limited number of postgraduate travel bursaries are available by application. Further details & a full call for papers are available at

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