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JUNE 9, 2014




Staceyann Chin.

Open and Honest.

Truth Be Told.


StaceyAnn Chin, truth be told

We’ve been on a Staceyann Chin kick as of late. There are many reasons why I love the writer/activist, her propensity towards truth telling however ugly and hurtful the subject matter may be just makes her a badass chick in my book. We’ve introduced you all to Truth. Be. Told. before, watch Staceyann bare her soul on the series by Katina Parker that showcases the lives of black queer visionaries.

Truth. Be. Told. f. Staceyann Chin from Katina Parker on Vimeo.

Also, you should check out her memoir The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoirit’s a good read. You can buy the book Amazon as well as larger bookstores around the U.S.





September 1, 2014




African Feminism and

the politics of ‘Being Pretty’

Are African women between a rock and a hard place when it comes to feminism and bodily adornment? One African female writer explores what it means to be fierce, fly AND feminist.

Photo from Seed of Style

Photo from Seed of Style 

I like beautifying myself. I know that people give me preferential treatment because of it. People hold doors open for me, listen a little more intently, and stare a bit longer on the street. Do I spend too much time on my wardrobe? Probably. I know how to slay a mean lip colour. African prints are often my first choice. I’ve been known to wear a bow tie or two. I obsess over re-applications of my powder foundation and often feel like a rigorous study session cannot begin without cleverly painted nails.

But then the danger is not being taken seriously. If you’re introverted, as I am, and don’t always care to engage in conversation, one can come across as conceited or not particularly bright. I also know that I’ve judged other womyn for being exceptionally “pretty” and also quiet. I have made the assumption that, maybe there wasn’t much there.

Too often, we assume adornment is synonymous with a woman without ‘intelligence’. Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Adichie thinks differently (Google “Why Can't a Smart Woman Love Fashion?”)

“Do you just know how to put colours together?”

At a recent spoken word performance I did, the emcee (with whom I had just spent the past two weeks in a writing workshop) described me as “really stylish” in my intro. And then proceeded to describe my different fashion choices throughout the week. This was followed by a joke that she would make me a fashion editor for her dream fashion magazine. In a casual conversation at this same workshop, another participant randomly asked: “Do you just know how to put colours together?” I passive-aggressively changed the topic, suddenly becoming shy at the attention. Throughout the workshop, participants commented on my array of elaborate necklaces. And I don’t mind these compliments. Really, I don’t. I put a lot of thought into my appearance, and it’s nice to be recognised for it. But I also see the danger in them becoming the primary way I am identified and taken up in important capital “F” Feminist political spaces.

Professional headshot taken in Nairobi (Photo by Noon Sharif) and my spoken word performance in Kampala (Photo by Peter Bunyondo)

And this conversation matters because I am a darker skinned chubby faced, Akan-profiled, nappy-headed, curvy, young woman. I have had to do a lot of work to see myself as beautiful. And not in that “we are all beautiful, love yourself” kind of way. But, to really learn which colours, dress-styles, necklines, and hairstyles work for my body type and bone structure. In fact, I often feel that these growing self-love movements do us a disservice by not engaging the practice of dressing to compliment one’s particular proportions. Sure I want to love me on the inside, but I refuse to believe that because I don’t look like Becky, I can’t get my swag on. And I suspect, in large part, that is why my sisters in the workshop appreciated my fashion sense. Because they are also black and brown womyn who often do not see their images reflected back to them, even in their own countries. 

African Female Respectability Politics

Black girls had to walk a fine line between being pretty/stylish and being smart

But still, I worry about how my neon green, purple accented A-line dress makes me look walking into government buildings, or paying parking tickets at the local courthouse. (Granted, not enough to make me change. Besides, it’s usually too late by the time I become self-conscious.) In my community, black girls had to walk a fine line between being pretty/stylish and being smart. Too much of the former sealed your fate as vain and likely not very bright; too much of the latter made you undesirable to boys.

I grew up in working class black immigrant neighbourhoods in Toronto as a second-generation Ghanaian-Canadian. Bright colours would abound, both in clothing and hair weaves. Elaborate braid patterns and flashy shoes and jewellery were in abundance. But in my mother’s house, we were clear that these fashion choices were not to be made. Of course, we were still quite fashionable kids. But we just knew that certain shades of green, red or orange would be met with a resounding disapproval and judgment. Loud colours were for uneducated Jamaicans from Kingston. Bright Skittles-coloured weaves were for African-American girls on BET. Gold nose rings and bamboo earrings were for Caribbean teen mothers with no guidance. Even now, my mother’s heartbreaks when she sees my not-so-subtle nose piercings and random strip of blonde hair in my Grace Jones fade. She cannot fathom that a PhD student could present herself in such a crass, uncultured way. I have to say, I am also amazed at my bravery. Looking at my childhood, one could never have predicted my fashion choices today -not even me. (Certainly not my septum.) These were things (‘modernised’) African girls simply did not do.

A Wodaabe (Fulani) woman applying make-up (left) and a‘modern’ African woman in bright colours (right). Adornment has always been apart of our traditional cultures right across the continent.

Essentially, what I am referring to is a kind of African/Black female respectability politics, which dictates to womyn and girls how to exist in the world. Our fashion choices become representative of our moral character, sexual behaviour and life potential. Our ability to pass through our wardrobe is the difference between girls who are “wifey material” and girls who are just THOTs.

The youtube sensation Emmanuel and Phillip Hudson mimicking ‘ratchet’ (read: working class) Black women in their video “She Racheet”

Selfie Life

Even my seemingly unhealthy amount of selfies on social media serve a political purpose. As a young black grad student in an all-white town, I spend a lot time alone. Both the solitary nature of grad school and the isolation of London, Ontario means that I can sometimes go a week without human interaction. A person can forget they even exist in this environment. Selfies help me remember that I am here, alive in this body. And, that I matter. The secondary function of my selfie obsession is to document my life. My fashion choices are an expression of who and where I am in my life. As someone who advocates for the importance of African womyn’s narratives, I believe each picture I take adds to my story. It may sound silly, but I have a deep and profound relationship with my lipsticks, eye shadows, and bracelets. (Ghanaian Krobo beads are my current signature, by the way.) In the spirit of disrupting white supremacist patriarchy, I experiment with different shades that compliment my dark-skin tone. I do not buy into the hype that darker-skinned black womyn cannot wear bright colours.

Selfies are political

Tone down for what?

I have carried this balancing act well into my twenties. My style is deliberate, conscious and deeply political. But the truth of it is this: there was a time in my life when I took myself entirely too seriously. When I allowed my conceptualisation of the “feminist majority” to dictate what I could and could not wear. That wearing bright orange lipstick was the shit white girls and “ghetto” girls did.

I can wear mascara and talk world politics at the same damn time

And still this politics of “being pretty” haunts me. Too often, I wonder if I need to tone it down when attending supervisory meetings or academic conferences. Do I need to wear more neutral colours to be taken seriously as a young black African woman in the academy? Should I wear only a couple of Maasai bracelets instead of my usual 5-7 (on each wrist)? But then I am reminded of radical femme activists like Kim Crosby who say her makeup is her war paint in this patriarchal and sexist world, that womyn are damned either way for not fitting some arbitrary standards, that beautification and adornment are all ancient practices in our indigenous communities, and that Black womyn already start at a deficit on the white supremacist beauty scale, that centuries of being misrepresented, desexualised or hypersexualised still haunts us. And that somewhere in Lagos, Toronto, Kampala, Nairobi, there is a little girl being convinced her skin is too dark, her nose too broad and hair too nappy. That I can wear mascara and talk world politics at the same damn time. That I can ball freshly painted nails into black power fists. That there is a need to reclaim adornment for Black womyn. In other words, tone down for what?

Just one of my daily selfies before my study session.

Just one of my daily selfies before my study session. — Rita Nketiah









The Huffington Post






5 Things About Slavery

You Probably Didn’t Learn

In Social Studies:

A Short Guide To

‘The Half Has Never Been Told’


The Huffington Post  | By  

Edward Baptist’s new book, “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery And The Making Of American Capitalism”, drew a lot of attention last month after the Economist said it was too hard on slave owners.

What you might not have taken away from the ensuing media storm is that “The Half Has Never Been Told” is quite a gripping read. Baptist weaves deftly between analysis of economic data and narrative prose to paint a picture of American slavery that is pretty different from what you may have learned in high school Social Studies class.

The whole thing is well worth reading in full. Baptist positions his book in opposition to textbooks that present slavery like a distant aberration of American history, cramming 250 years into a few chapters in a way “that cuts the beating heart out of the story.” To counter that image of history, Baptist devotes much of the book to depicting the lived experience of enslavement in a way that’s vivid and immediate.

But for those of you who are strapped for time, or who want a peek into the book before committing to the full 420 pages, here are five of his key arguments:


1) Slavery was a key driver of the formation of American wealth.

Baptist argues that our narrative of slavery generally goes something like this: it was a terrible thing, but it was an anomaly, a sort of feudal throwback within capitalism whose demise would inevitably come with the rise of wage labor. In fact, he argues, it was at the heart of the development of American capitalism. 

Baptist crunches economic data to come up with a “back-of-the-envelope” estimate of how much slavery contributed to the American economy both directly and indirectly. “All told, more than $600 million, or almost half of the economic activity in the United States in 1836, derived directly or indirectly from cotton produced by the million-odd slaves — 6 percent of the total US population — who in that year toiled in labor camps on slavery’s frontier.” 

By 1850, he writes, American slaves were worth $1.3 billion, one-fifth of the nation’s wealth.

2) In its heyday, slavery was more efficient than free labor, contrary to the arguments made by some northerners at the time. 

Drawing on cotton production data and firsthand accounts of slaveowners and the formerly enslaved, Baptist finds that ever-increasing cotton picking quotas, enforced by brutal whippings, led slaves to reach picking speeds that stretched the limits of physical possibility. “A study of planter account books that record daily picking totals for individual enslaved people on labor camps across the South found a growth in daily picking totals of 2.1 percent per year,” Baptist writes. “The increase was even higher if one looks at the growth in the newer southwestern areas in 1860, where the efficiency of picking grew by 2.6 percent per year from 1811 to 1860, for a total productivity increase of 361 percent.”

Free wage laborers were comparatively much slower. “Many enslaved cotton pickers in the late 1850s had peaked at well over 200 pounds per day,” Baptist notes. “In the 1930s, after a half-century of massive scientific experimentation, all to make the cotton boll more pickable, the great-grandchildren of the enslaved often picked only 100 to 120 pounds per day.”


3) Slavery didn’t just enrich the South, but also drove the industrial boom in the North. 

The steady stream of large quantities of cotton was the lifeblood of textile mills in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and generated wealth for the owners of those mills. By 1832, “Lowell consumed 100,000 days of enslaved people’s labor every year,” Baptist writes. “And as enslaved hands made pounds of cotton more efficiently than free ones, dropping the inflation-adjusted price of cotton delivered to the US and British textile mills by 60 percent between 1790 and 1860, the whipping-machine was freeing up millions of dollars for the Boston Associates.”

Slavery in the South was also instrumental in changing the demographic face of the North, as Europeans streamed in to work in the region’s factories. “Outside of the cotton ports, jobs were scarce for immigrants in the slave states during the 1840s, and they had no desire to compete with workers driven by the whipping-machine,” Baptist explains. “The immigrants’ choice to move to the North had significant demographic impact, raising the northern population from 7.1 million in 1830 to 10 million in 1840, and then to over 14 million by 1850. In the same period, the South grew much more slowly, from 5.7 million in 1830 to almost 9 million.”

4) Slavery wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down economically by the time the Civil War came around.

Here’s Baptist:

In the 1850s, southern production of cotton doubled from 2 million to 4 million bales, with no sign of either slowing down or quenching the industrial West’s thirst for raw materials. The world’s consumption of cotton grew from 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion pounds, and at the end of the decade the hands of US fields were still picking two-thirds of all of it, and almost all of that which went to Western Europe’s factories. By 1860, the eight wealthiest states in the United States, ranked by wealth per white person, were South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Connecticut, Alabama, Florida, and Texas — seven states created by cotton’s march west and south, plus one that, as the most industrialized state in the Union, profited disproportionately from the gearing of northern factory equipment to the southwestern whipping machine.


And it provided the basis for the creation of sophisticated financial products: slave-backed bonds that Baptist says were “remarkably similar to the securitized bonds, backed by mortgages on US homes, that attracted investors from around the globe to US financial markets from the 1980s until the economic collapse of 2008.”

Slave-backed bonds “generated revenue for investors from enslavers’ repayments of mortgages on enslaved people,” Baptist writes. “This meant that investors around the world would share in revenues made by hands in the field. Thus, in effect, even as Britain was liberating the slaves of its empire, a British bank could now sell an investor a completely commodified slave: not a particular individual who could die or run away, but a bond that was the right to a one-slave-sized slice of a pie made from the income of thousands of slaves.”

A formerly enslaved woman, photographed on a farm near Greensboro, Alabama in 1941.

5) The South seceded to guarantee the expansion of slavery.

There are many competing explanations for what moved the South to secede. Baptist argues that the main driving reason was an economic one: slavery had to keep expanding to remain profitable, and Southern politicians wanted to ensure that new western states would be slave-owning ones. “Ever since the end of the Civil War, Confederate apologists have put out the lie that the southern states seceded and southerners fought to defend an abstract constitutional principle of ‘state’s rights.’ That falsehood attempts to sanitize the past,” Baptist writes. At every Democratic party national convention, “participants made it explicit: they were seceding because they thought secession would protect the future of slavery.”

So why is it important to revisit this history now, nearly 150 years after slavery ended?

Baptist argues that our understanding — or misunderstanding — of slavery has policy implications for the present. (In that way, the book is complementary reading to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ much talked-about Case For Reparations). “If slavery was outside of US history, for instance — if indeed it was a drag and not a rocket booster to American economic growth — then slavery was not implicated in US growth, success, power and wealth,” Baptist writes. “Therefore none of the massive quantities of wealth and treasure piled by that economic growth is owed to African Americans.” Anyone who believes that, his book aims to show, really hasn’t heard the half of it.









photo by Alex Lear

photo by Alex Lear





to be thot by the world as nonattractive

is so cruel a twist of birth

to be told yr weight is too much or not

enuf, yr face shape “ah… well, unique”


not to look like tv & cable

not to walk like magazines

not to smell like designed aromas

is so much

the way life really is


despite tons of pretty people

crisscrossing this century

beauty remains a rare thing, as rare as

infant eyes in an adult head


somewhere after high

school (& a prom nite that shouldda been my first

abortion) u wonder: is there any


            in this whole wide

            kaleidoscope who can truly, truly…


            what i mean by “truly” is

            be sincere in feeling, &

understand how that mustard spot spilt

            on my blouse may be several days old

            but i’m not a filthy person, yes

            a bit uncaring abt neatness but you

            could eat off the floor in my kitchen…

                        (that’s a joke…)

            i don’t have any chairs in my kitchen

            & sometimes when i come in late at night

            i sit on the floor & eat chinese in the semi-dark

            ha-ha, …


love excites me & loveless sex turns me off

is that confusing? like a lake

at high tide i totally open

myself to someone i love & if i don’t

i only want him to hurry up & be over

although i never kiss & never tell

them that–we all know

there is such a thing

as too much reality


but if i could find a man somewhat

like my cat, i could touch him & talk to him

tell all, focus on sanity

& share slices of apple & my dimpleless

smile, the strange odor of my hair when its

wet by the silver rain i’ve walked into

to forget the dryness of days


at work they train me in congeniality

show me how to smile at strangers

with money in their hands

my mother told me never to do that

if you saw my chronology

you would look at my finger

nails and shake your head

the bitten edges confirmation

that loneliness is

a compulsive eating disorder &

what i do with my hands

a blues connotation


did i mention i’m black?

well dark brown really (smile…)

& female once a menses,

i’m ramblin’ aren’t i?


on a job application

for a position i never got

i once put down “ornette coleman”

as kin to notify because of that song

he made: “lonely woman”


i’m sure he stole those sound-tears

from someone he had hurt, made cry–


            no man

            has ever

            really felt

            like that


—kalamu ya salaam













okay africa

OCTOBER 23, 2014




Watch The Story Of

Black Coffee’s ‘Origins’

In A New Mini-Doc




A few months after bringing South African house music to Central Park, NYC for our very own Summerstage concert, SA DJ/producer Black Coffee has come through this week with the first single off his forthcoming sixth LP, due out next year. “I Will Find You,” like “Stimela” and the Masekela-featuring “We Are One” did previously, has a subtle kind of power. Instead of screaming for attention, the song sidles up to the listener with soft drum clasps, thick background beats, and the menacing, albeit comforting voice of SA singer Cara Frew. At its core, “I Will Find You” is an impassioned, almost desperate address. Yet, with Black Coffee’s trance-like production, the song manages to be inviting, even fun. Listen below.

What do you think?

In addition to the new single, Black Coffee also features in a new 21-minute documentary collaboration between Resident Advisor and SONOS for their ORIGINSseries. A gripping portrait of childhood hardship, personal resilience, and eventual happiness, the film follows the artist as he travels to his birthplace of Durban and then to Mthatha (his later home), where he recounts the traumatic incident that set him back, but also strenghtened his love of music. Culminating in a return to his former school, the doc can be summarized in Black Coffee’s address to the students before him: “You can be anything you want in life. And I’m not just saying that. I’m the proof of it.” Watch it below and head to RA for more details on the film.



























Announcing the launch of the forthcoming OKATI, The Journal of Pacific Writing. The journal and website will come online 1 December 2014. In the meantime, OKATI can be found on Facebook.

OKATI will cater to hundreds of writers who work in isolation in the 22 island countries and territories of the Pacific and also to the huge diaspora community we have in many countries of the world.

“In every issue, OKATI will pay homage to an oral storyteller or two. OKATI appreciates that our Pacific communities are founded in oral traditions and history and believes this can be utilised to bridge to writing and reading. In this spirit, OKATI makes space for the ones who mesmerised you as a child or intrigued you with knowledge of genealogies and history. Tell us who your storytellers are. Tell us whose stories you carry hidden in your chest.” From the OKATI Facebook page. 

For submission guidelines, email Mary D. Rokonadravu via and put ‘Request Submission Guide’ in the ‘Subject’ of your email.

As well as Poetry, Short Stories (Fiction), Essays (Non-Fiction), Reviews, Letters, Artwork and Photography, the journal will also accept pitches (proposed ideas) on events, writers or activities related to writing and literature in the Pacific.









morland foundation


It can be difficult for writers, before they become established, to write and to earn a living outside writing at the same time. To help fill this need the MMF awarded three Morland Writing Scholarships in November last year. The Scholarships were open to anyone who had been born in Africa or both of whose parents were born in Africa.

We were astonished by the response to the Scholarships. We had been expecting to get a few dozen entries and ended up receiving over 350. In general the standard was high and choosing the Scholars was difficult. After long deliberation the judges awarded the Scholarships to Doreen Baingana, from Uganda, Tony Mochama, from Kenya, and Percy Zvomuya, from Zimbabwe. All three are hard at work on their books.

The Miles Morland Foundation is pleased to offer three new Scholarships this year. The terms will be similar to last year with one or two minor changes.



The Scholars will receive a grant of £18,000, paid monthly over the course of one year.

Scholar’s Undertaking

In return for this it is expected that the Scholars will pay to the MMF 20% of whatever they subsequently receive from what they write during the year of their Scholarship. These funds will be used to support other promising writers. Last year the obligation to return 20% was a binding condition of accepting the Scholarship. For this year’s Scholars, and retro-actively for last year’s, the 20% return obligation should be considered a debt of honour rather than a legally binding obligation.

To qualify for the Scholarship a candidate must submit a piece of published work, or an excerpt from a piece of published work (written in English), of between two and five thousand words to be evaluated by a panel of readers and judges set up by the MMF. The Scholarships will be awarded based on these submissions although the Foundation may also wish to question certain candidates or ask for other work. The work submitted will be judged purely on literary merit. It is not the purpose of the Scholarships to support academic or scientific research, or works of special interest such as religious or political writings. Submissions or proposals of this nature do not qualify.

The Judges
We are delighted that the panel of three judges who chose the 2013 Scholars have agreed to act as judges again this year:

Ellah Allfrey, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, from Zimbabwe, is an independent editor, critic and broadcaster. She was previously Deputy Editor of Granta magazine and has worked at Jonathan Cape, Random House and Penguin. She sits on the board of the Writers’ Centre, Norwich, and is Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize. Ms Allfrey is the Chair of the Judges Panel.


Olufemi Terry, born in Sierra Leone, was the winner of the 2010 Caine Prize for African Literature with his story, “Stick-fighting Days”.


Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa in Somaliland. Her 2009 book Black Mamba Boy won global recognition and was awarded the 2010 Betty Trask Award. She has recently published Orchard of Lost Souls. In 2013 she was named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.

Will the Foundation provide mentoring, or other help with my work?
Last year the answer was no. With the June appointment of Michela Wrong as Literary Director of the Foundation we will experiment this year with offering mentoring to Scholarship winners. Each of the three winners will be offered the opportunity to be mentored by an established author or publisher who will give help when sought on the progress of their book and comments as to how it is succeeding in meeting its objectives. Participation in this scheme will be voluntary. It is not the intention of the MMF to be an editor or a publisher. Scholars will need to find their own agents and publishers although it is to be hoped that over the years the award of a Morland Scholarship will be something that will come to be recognised as an incubator of talent.

Proposed Work
The candidates should submit a brief description of the work they intend to write (200 – 500 words). It should be a new work, not a work in progress. The proposed work must be in English as must all submissions. Please also tell us in fewer than 300 words something about yourself and your background. Anything in your background suggesting that you have the ability and discipline to write a full-length book will be useful. Proposed works can be on any subject though the judges will show preference to works which relate to Africa. Academic work, medical and scientific research, and works on religious subjects will not be considered for an award.

Fiction or Non-Fiction
The Trustees have wrestled with this question. There is more good fiction coming out of Africa than non-fiction (if you exclude autobiography from non-fiction). We would love to promote non-fiction. The problem is that non-fiction requires continuing and considerable research which may not fit easily into the 10,000 word a month requirement set out below. The Foundation therefore welcomes both fiction and non-fiction proposals but warns non-fiction applicants that they may have a difficult time keeping to the schedule. We are happy to grant a few months’ grace before the Scholarship payments start and the 10,000 words monthly requirement goes into effect to permit a non-fiction Scholar to do research before he or she starts writing.

The Trustees are actively giving consideration to what they might do to promote non-fiction in Africa. We have not yet found the answer. Thoughts welcome.

Poetry? Plays? Film-Scripts?
We love them all, but No, neither as submissions of completed work nor as proposals for books.

Scholarship Requirement
The only condition imposed on the Scholars during the year of their Scholarship is that they must write. They will be asked to submit by e-mail at least 10,000 new words every month until they have finished their book. The Scholarship will terminate if a Scholar fails to submit the required work on time unless prior authorisation has been received. The Scholarship is intended for writers who want to write a full-length book of 80,000 words or more.

The Scholars are not MMF employees. Once the Scholarship has been awarded the MMF does not involve itself in the Scholars’ lives or how they practice their craft as long as they fulfill the Scholarship terms set out above.

Important Dates
The closing date for submissions for the 2014 Writing Scholarships is October 31st 2014. The Scholarships will be announced in December 2014 and will run for the whole of calendar 2015. The Trustees reserve the right to vary the terms and requirements of the Scholarships at their discretion.

Please go to FAQs about the Morland Writing Scholarships to answer any further questions.

>All enquiries and submissions relating to the Morland Scholarships should be directed to





The Caribbean in an Age of Global Apartheid:

Fences, Boundaries, and Borders

—Literal and Imagined


The Caribbean Studies Association hereby issues a call for papers for its 40th Annual Conference, set for May 25-29, 2015, at the Hilton Hotel (Riverside) in New Orleans, Louisiana. The theme for 2015 is “The Caribbean in an Age of Global Apartheid: Fences, Boundaries, and Borders—Literal and Imagined.” The deadline for abstract submissions is December 15, 2014.


Our theme for this year’s conference reflects the unfortunate fact that today’s 21st century Planet Earth is experiencing a steady growth in global inequality. The term “global apartheid” refers to the fact that throughout the world, fences, boundaries, borders and barriers confront all aspects of human endeavor and are protected by a minority with power over and control of most of the world’s land, labor and capital. Yet at the same time, globalization is producing population movements across all these obstacles on an unprecedented planetary scale. Our week-long meeting provides an opportunity from a variety of perspectives to analyze, understand, and address the contradictions—pushes and pulls—of this new global reality as it impacts the Caribbean and its diasporas.

Our designated conference site is New Orleans, often referred to as the “northernmost point of the Caribbean.” Before the “Anglo-American” takeover and Civil War, it was a majority-black city with an implicitly African Creole culture. Like many Caribbean nations, its unique history is comprised of three distinct colonial eras entailing almost three centuries of contact and synthesis among African slaves (the last to be imported legally into the U.S.), French and Spanish colonists, gens de couleur libres (free people of color), native peoples and Cajuns.

The influence of both Haiti and Cuba on New Orleans is palpable, especially in the French Quarter and Faubourg Tremé (the site of Congo Square). In the early 19th century, refugees coming from revolutionary Saint-Domingue, many by way of eastern Cuba, transformed Louisiana, providing inspiration for the largest slave revolt in U.S. history (1811) that ended with a tribunal held at Destrehan plantation near New Orleans (a planned CSA tour). Perhaps less well known is the fact that New Orleans was a port city that enjoyed an almost 200-year long trading relationship with Havana, ending with the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

Today, New Orleans (and Southwest Louisiana/East Texas) is home to a robust and distinctive subculture comprised of black Catholic speakers of Creole (also known as Afro-French, Black Creoles, Black French, Creoles, Créoles, Créoles Noirs, Creoles of Color). Plenaries, round-tables and featured panels will connect these unique Creole cultures of the U.S. with those of Africa and the Caribbean, especially those of Cuba and Haiti. A CSA conference exhibition will show these historical connections visually by featuring strikingly similar beadwork created by the Yoruba, Haitians, and Mardi Gras Indians (Black Indians).

We welcome papers and presentations on subthemes that relate to the overall conference theme, such as: 1) borders as one of the great contradictions in the era of capitalist globalization, the question of national sovereignty, responses to economic superfluity (joblessness) in the Caribbean and Circum-Caribbean; demands for slavery reparations; 2) Creole identity, history, language, migration, cuisine, literature, music, dance, festival arts, art and architecture, religious and spiritual traditions; 3) global climate change, environmental sustainability and urban geography, “toxic tourism” and disaster sites, abandoned populations, emigration and immigration policies, “nations without borders,” transnational citizenship; and 4) efforts in the region to overcome the barriers of race, ethnicity, language, nationality, religion, class status, gender and sexual orientation.

We provide a setting where multi- and inter-disciplinary views are encouraged, where the arts and humanities meet the social sciences, and where different ways of seeing and communicating about the world are presented by a diverse array of participants.

In order to facilitate inter-disciplinary exchange, we encourage our members to propose ideas for papers and panels, by way of contacting others to create multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual panels at our website’s forum.

Guidelines for Panel/Paper Submissions

  • All proposals must be submitted electronically via the CSA website. The deadline for individual and panel submissions is 15 December 2014
  • Abstracts must not exceed 125 words for individual papers or 250 words for panels
  • Titles for individual papers and for panels must not exceed 70 characters (we reserve the right to edit for brevity)
  • Proposed panels should contain at least 3 and no more than 4 presenters, and panel chairperson must be named in the proposal
  • Paper titles (and abstracts if possible) should be submitted in at least one other language besides English (Spanish, French or Haitian Kreyol); multilingual abstracts will be published in the electronic version of the program.
  • Panels should strive to represent a diversity of languages, rank, affiliations and disciplines (i.e., inclusion of graduate students and junior scholars on panels with senior scholars, activists, and/or practitioners; panels composed of social science, arts and humanities scholars)
  • Papers/presentations that require special equipment, installation space, rooms, translation services, etc., must be indicated on the submission form
  • Presentations of films and visual and performing arts, as well as related panels, are welcome. Please see the 2015 Film and Visual & Performing Arts Committee Call for Proposals (below) for information and submission instructions.

Membership dues and conference registration must be paid by April 15, 2015, or papers/panels will not appear in the conference program. Membership and registration details are available on the CSA website.

For help with translation or information on suggested topics, CSA travel grants, visas, submissions forms, author celebration and literary salon, contact Karen Flynn or Keithley Woolward at or the secretary at