Call for Papers

Human, Intellectual and Cultural Mobilities between Africa and the Caribbean – From the Late 19th Century to the Present

Call for Papers for a volume to be submitted to Routledge
“Human, Intellectual and Cultural Mobilities between Africa and the Caribbean – From the Late 19th Century to the Present“

Birgit Englert, Immanuel R. Harisch, Sigrid Thomsen
(University of Vienna, Research Platform “Mobile Cultures and Societies”)

Connections between the African continent and the Caribbean are manifold, dating back to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which constitutes the root of black diasporas in the Caribbean as in other parts of the world. Paul Gilroy coined the term “Black Atlantic” a quarter century ago in order to point at the existence of a black Atlantic culture which transcends ethnicity and nationality. The circulation of ideas and goods between Africa and the Caribbean, too, has been the topic of considerable scholarly debate.

However, it seems to us that there is still relatively little work done on connections between Africa and the Caribbean which explicitly takes on the perspective of Mobility Studies. Since the “new mobility paradigm” was proclaimed by sociologists John Urry and Mimi Sheller in the mid-2000s, scholarly work on im/mobilities has expanded enormously in numerous disciplines.

With this Call for Papers, we encourage researchers to take a fresh look at connections between the African continent and the Caribbean from the late 19th century until the present by analyzing various phenomena through a mobility studies lens.

We are looking for contributions that examine one or more of the different forms in which mobilities occur: humans, objects and ideas might be mobile, either in a material sense or in imaginary terms. Further, virtual mobilities have come to play an important role over the last two decades and thus their influence on the other forms of mobilities mentioned above also needs to be included in an analysis of more recent phenomena.

As we aim to create a volume which contributes to bridge debates in the humanities and the social sciences, we welcome proposals from scholars based in African and/or Caribbean Studies, Social and Cultural Anthropology, History, Literary Studies, Film Studies, Geography, Sociology, Political Science as well as related disciplines.

Proposals for book chapters which are transdisciplinary and/or which take a comparative perspective are especially welcome.

To start with, individual trajectories and/or collective experiences as mobile workers, students, tourists, development workers, soldiers, etc. may be examined along questions of belonging, solidarity, identity, or racism. Contributions may further look at how discursive meanings around mobility are produced, and which actors are involved in these processes.

Further, possible contributions could look at the plethora of ideas, such as Pan-Africanism, which were incredibly mobile in connecting the Caribbean and Africa as their advocates organized conferences, disseminated printed works or ran shipping lines between the continents for repatriation purposes. The mobilities of religious practices and thought as well as the mechanisms of adaption and appropriation of certain ideas between Africa and the Caribbean also provide possible areas of study for this volume.

Other fruitful fields of inquiry refer to the imagined mobilities and longing that Africa has evoked—and still evokes—in the Caribbean as well as the other way around. Contributions that highlight imaginary mobilities between Africa and the Caribbean may for example draw on various forms of cultural expression, such as literature, film, music or other forms of art.

For example, contributions on the rich literary tradition running between Africa and the Caribbean could look at a movement like négritude, which, spanning Africa and the Caribbean, was in dialogue with the Pan-African project and argued for an appreciation of African heritage within the diaspora and on the continent.

Other possible literary routes for inquiry might be the depiction of Afro-Caribbean religions in Caribbean literature, contemporary Afro-Caribbean literature, or travel writing moving between the two spaces. Articles could look at both individual works of literature or other forms of cultural expression such as film or related arts, or, more broadly, theorize literary and cultural interpellations between Africa and the Caribbean.

Finally yet importantly, the increasing importance of the mobile phone and, more recently, the use of social media which the mobile device enables, has impacted on societies at large. Possible contributions may emphasize how the relatively widespread access to these technologies has shaped relations between actors in Africa and the Caribbean.

We would like to stress that the suggested fields of inquiry mentioned in this Call are certainly not complete and we welcome all contributions that delve into the multitude of mobilities between Africa and the Caribbean in the last 140 years or so.

Practical information
Please send abstracts of a maximum of 500 words and a short biographical note to by 10 March 2019.

The selection of abstracts will be completed by 15 March 2019 and the selected contributors will be asked to send in draft chapters by 1 September 2019.

An authors’ workshop will be held in late September/early October 2019 (exact date to be announced) at the University of Vienna, Austria. All participants are expected to read all draft chapters and to take part in feedback sessions which aim to make sure that the chapters contribute to the common thread running through the volume.

We can assist a limited number of participants with travel costs and accommodation when required. Please mention in your abstract whether you might need financial support for the workshop and from where you will be travelling.

We are very much looking forward to receiving your abstracts!
Birgit Englert, Immanuel R. Harisch, and Sigrid Thomsen