Unearthing and Reimagining Gender and Critical Ecology in the Caribbean
What is this project?
Ecologies Entrelacées is a bilingual digital humanities project that will bring participants from a wide spectrum all together, from inside and outside of academia, to interrogate questions of capitalism, colonialism, gender, and environment in the Francophone Caribbean. Insisting on the plurality of ecologies—the multiple interconnected and overlapping relationships between people and with their surroundings—the project’s goal is to uncover nuanced ways in which narratives of ecology and gender have been systematically suppressed and reduced—and conversely, to examine how individuals and collectives continuously resist and disorder dominant structures of power.
Prevalent theoretical framing from male voices tends to overshadow female voices in the Francophone Caribbean. There are strong connections between the subjugation of the female figures with patterns of ecological destruction. Not in the least hoping to diminish the rich culture of the region, we aim to uncover a more nuanced image of the Francophone Caribbean by studying ways in which narratives around both women and landscape have been suppressed and reduced. An elevation of gendered perspectives on these questions of colonialism, ecology, memory, and identity continues to be necessary. With this website, we aim to create a space that uncovers the disruptive work that women have been doing for generations—and will continue to do—to challenge oppressive structures such as enslaved labor, colonialist agricultural practices, and masculinist narratives.
How are we doing this project?
To illustrate this broader claim more tangibly, we’ve chosen four themes that are foundational to common visual conceptions of the Caribbean. These themes are romantic and alluring on the surface, but all have faced more complex histories and consequences due to colonialism and capitalism. Bananas, sugar, beaches, and gardens are often identified with the captivating landscape of the Caribbean. Yet, each of these themes are both concrete and abstract representations of exploitative land use and domination of people. This is particularly evident as the effects of climate change reproduce these dynamics. Two of these are products (staples) and two are spaces. This intentionally interrogates the relationship between place and emplacement, human and natural history.
Why the Francophone Caribbean?
The Francophone Caribbean was chosen as our area of focus because of our academic specializations in the space, and our proficiency in the language. Additionally, at a time when France has regularly touted its global leadership role in the fight against climate change, with President Emmanuel Macron urging us that “there’s no planet B” and that we should “make our planet great again,” our themes in the context of the Francophone Caribbean force us to question this narrative. We are raising questions around the ways in which France has secured this global leadership role at the expense of both women and landscape in the Caribbean. While centering the francophonie focuses the scope of this project to some degree, we also think it’s important to include other areas of the Caribbean in our exploration of these questions. Language barriers and drawn national boundaries don’t stop the flow of information, nor do they block the spread of environmental harms such as rising sea levels and chemical poisoning.
What can you expect from this site?
This digital project will span one academic year from October 2020 through August 2021. It will be organized into four modules, one module for each of our themes, with each module lasting for approximately 2-3 months. These two month periods will include the following for each theme:
Regular releases of new content related to our theme;
A culminating synchronous convening of all participants towards the end of the time-frame for each theme
The events and content will include panels, workshops, book club meetings, lectures, poetry readings, music, relevant news articles, and more. We aim to bring participants from a wide spectrum all together, inside and outside of academia—from humanities scholars to activists, to experts on natural resources, to anyone who is just interested in learning about this topic, from places all around the world. Each module will intentionally include interdisciplinary perspectives on the same topic in order to offer a multi-faceted perspective, shedding new light on environmental and gender studies in the Caribbean. We intend to offer as much of this content as possible in both English and French, to the extent of our capacity and project resources.