23 November 2023

Call for Papers: Small Islands, Proximity, and Connection in the Eastern Caribbean


In this special issue, we set out to explore the history of the eastern Caribbean as shaped by the dynamics of small islands, proximity, and resource scarcity. We argue that the history of the eastern Caribbean was and is decisively shaped by inter-island connections, networks, and influences mobilized by islanders to take on the challenges of small-island life during and after slavery. In this region, imperial wars caused the swift change of political masters, racial slavery generated practices of opposition and resistance, and the intensiveness of sugar production created high mortality rates and turned individual islands into unsustainable environments. Droughts, for example, have been a recurrent phenomenon in the islands, but they are not, strictly speaking, caused by ecological factors. Rather, water scarcity has been created by social and economic initiatives, such as plantation agriculture, high population levels, deforestation, and the uneven distribution of resources on small, dry islands. More recently, the impacts of globalization, tourism, and climate change have underlined further environmental, social, and economic challenges. It is against this background of island fragility that inter-island connections are decisive. Resources gained from neighboring islands have included fresh food and fresh water; new ideas and rumors; rapid aid in the face of rebellion or natural disaster; access to the embodied expertise of ritual healers, medical caretakers, and rebellious leaders; knowledge of easily adaptable legal and managerial practices designed to maintain slavery; and, naturally, the reliable support of family members, friends, and collaborators living nearby, across the sea. The challenges of island life have characterized the Caribbean as a whole, but they have often been more intensive and significant in the eastern Caribbean.

The unsustainable legacies of colonialism, racial slavery, and export orientation (of tropical goods and tropical dreams) were and are powerful in the small islands of the eastern Caribbean, four of which are represented on the (short) UN list of non-self-governing territories (Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, and Montserrat). Caught by histories of exploitation and by reliance on long-distance connections, the islands struggled and still struggle to achieve viable forms of sovereignty that can allow islanders to discuss and determine their futures.

We will develop contributions by hosting two online workshops and (depending on funding) one in-person workshop in 2024-25, and we encourage proposals from scholars interested in taking part in shared discussions about the questions raised above.

Editors: Dr. Joy Lewis (Morgan State University), Dr. Gunvor Simonsen, Dr. Felicia Fricke, and PhD Fellow Rasmus Christensen (all University of Copenhagen).



Proposal for contributions must be received no later than Monday 15th January 2024 and sent to Rasmus Christensen, rasmuschr@hum.ku.dk. All submissions should include an abstract (max. 250 words) and a two-page CV including a list of publications. Though we recognize the importance of a multilingual approach, the proposal must be in English and forwarded as either Word or PDF files.



Proposal submission deadline      Monday 15th January 2024

Workshop 1                                     Friday 5th April 2024

Full draft submission deadline     Wednesday 31st July 2024

Workshop 2                                     Friday 9th August 2024