Barbara T. Christian Literary Award

View this page in English | French | Spanish

CLICK HERE to view the Award Winners

A Call for Books for The Barbara T. Christian Literary Award

Barbara T. Christian“What I write and how I write is done in order to save my life.…Literature is a way of knowing that I am not hallucinating, that whatever I feel is. It is an affirmation that sensuality is intelligence, that sensual language is language that makes sense.”
– Barbara T. Christian

Born and raised in the Virgin Islands of the United States (VI-US), Dr. Barbara Christian dedicated her life to challenging ideas about race, gender, class, and epistemology – rejecting the belief that critical theory emanated solely from the West and that African diaspora and Caribbean ways of theorizing were somehow inferior to Eurocentric philosophical concepts. A committed feminist, educator and published author, Dr. Barbara T. Christian pioneered the birth of black women’s literary criticism and theory.

This CSA literary award established in 2001 to honor the memory of distinguished Caribbean-American black feminist and womanist theorist Dr. Barbara T. Christian, celebrates her intellectual legacy and is given to the best book published within the most recent three-year period which explicitly and innovatively examines topics of race, gender, sexuality, class, and intersectionality.

CSA continues to work collaboratively with the Christian family with exceptional and consistent resourceful support from CSA Past Presidents Dr. Cora L. E. Christian and Dr. Simon B. Jones-Hendrickson (beloved sister and brother-in-law of Dr. Barbara T. Christian.) The scholarly review and vetting process implemented gleans from our Caribbean and global communities for extraordinary, creative and innovative literary standards with great respects in alignment with the scholarly achievements, social gender justice empowerment, quests for gender equity, and analytical contributions of Dr. Barbara T. Christian.

CSA officially relaunched and expanded this literary award in New Orleans, with an exceptionally informative panel which included: Giselle Anatol, Carole Boyce-Davies, Percy Hintzen, Angelique Nixon, and Gina Ulysse. It remains indelibly marked in the annals of CSA as inspirational historical gems and standards of excellence worthy of respect, protection, and nurturance of gender, intersectionality and related disciplines within Caribbean Studies and Literature for generations to come. Appreciation extended for Heather Russell and Donette A. Francis assuming committee chair responsibilities from 2015-2017 and 2017-2019 respectively. Following CSA 2019 to present, especially as CSA 2020 was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID19 health pandemic, Chenzira Davis Kahina continues to serve as the committee chair in collaboration with other members supporting the literary excellence of 21st-century writers contributing to keeping the Barbara T. Christian’s legacy alive.

In paying homage to Dr. Christian’s intellectual legacy and continuing relevance to the work of the CSA, we are confident that we will get many wonderful and competitive submissions this year as CSA celebrates 46 years of multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural scholarship, research, education and more. Monographs from all disciplines and fields of scholarship in the Humanities and Caribbean Studies will be granted serious consideration. Publications submitted for CSA2020 are included in the CSA 2021 Barbara T. Christian Literary Award process! Preference will be given to books written by one or more authors as opposed to edited volumes or anthologies.

For one must distinguish the desire for power from the need to become empowered-that is, seeing oneself as capable of and having the right to determine one’s life. Such empowerment is partially derived from a knowledge of history. The black arts movement did result in the creation of Afro-American studies as a concept, thus giving it a place in the university where one might engage in the reclamation of Afro-American history and culture and pass it on to others. I am particularly concerned that institutions such as black studies and women’s studies, fought for with such vigor and at some sacrifice, are not often seen as important by many of our black or women scholars precisely because the old hierarchy of traditional departments is seen as superior to these “marginal” groups. Yet, it is in this context that many others of us are discovering the extent of our complexity, the interrelationships of different areas of knowledge in relation to a distinctly Afro-American or female experience. Rather than having to view our world as subordinate to others, or rather than having to work as if we were hybrids, we can pursue ourselves as subjects.” (Christian: 1988)

The winner will be announced at the CSA2021 conference in Guyana in June. The prizes will include a certificate, plaque, cash award, and special Caribbean cultural gift. Authors are encouraged to submit for this Call for Books and prepare to join the Barbara T. Christian Literary Award legacy alongside past winners for CSA2016-2019 that include:

  • Angelique V. Nixon for Resisting Paradise: Tourism, Diaspora and Sexuality in Caribbean Culture (University Press of Mississippi © 2015) – CSA2016 in Haiti
  • Marisa J. Fuentes for Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence and the Archive (University of Pennsylvania Press © 2016) AND Brendan Jamal Thornton for Negotiating Respect: Pentecostalism, Masculinity and the Politics of Spiritual Authority in the Dominican Republic (University Press of Florida © 2016) – CSA2017 in the Bahamas
  • Dixa Ramirez for Colonial Phantoms: Belonging and Refusal in the Dominican Americas, from the 19th Century to Present (New York University Press © 2018) – CSA2019 in Santa Marta, Columbia

Authors, your name could be next for CSA2021!

For I feel that the new emphasis on literary critical theory is as hegemonic as the world which it attacks. I see the language it creates as one which mystifies rather than clarifies our condition, making it possible for a few people who know that particular language to control the critical scene—that language surfaced, interestingly enough, just when the literature of peoples of color, of black women, of Latin Americans, of Africans began to move to ‘the centre.’” (Christian)


Chenzira Davis Kahina, Director
Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center
University of the Virgin Islands- Albert A. Sheen Campus
RR1 10,000
Kingshill, St. Croix Virgin Islands (US) 00850-9781


For more information, email: or call: 340-692-4272