Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies

We promote collaborative work within Caribbean and Diaspora Studies and specialise in the study of Caribbean and diasporic literatures.

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‘Seamed by its own bitter juice’: Voice, Visibility, Literacies

Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 June 2018
Venue: The Knowledge Centre, British Library, London

Professor Robert F. Reid-Pharr, City University of New York
Dr Regine Jean-Charles, Boston College

The Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies (CCDS), in collaboration with the Eccles Centre at the British Library, hosted its third ‘Diasporic Dialogues’ conference on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 June, 2018.

CCDS’ Dialogue series aim to extend our understanding of diaspora, to connect diasporas, and in the process, to forge new critical directions. This year, we turned to Derek Walcott who, in his essay ‘The Muse of History’ gives thanks, albeit a ‘strange’, ‘bitter and yet ennobling thanks’, for a complex inheritance involving ‘the monumental groaning and soldering of two great worlds, like the halves of a fruit seamed by its own bitter juice’. We borrowed Walcott’s problematizing of inheritance to pose a provocative question concerning the diaspora as  ‘inheritance’ and ‘gift’, particularly in light of the West’s relatively recent entanglement with the colonising process that is so central to our diasporic genealogy.  What are the meanings of such an ‘inheritance’, particularly in terms of voice, visibility and literacies that are readily available or not? What part does ‘race’ play in the stories that get to be told in the diaspora and what are the circumstances of that telling? Where are the silences and what does research tell us? Where are race/ gender intersections and black women in all of this?

Conference programme can be downloaded from the conference website.


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