Captivity Narratives: Economic Dispossession and the Illusion of Freedom in the Caribbean

Captivity Narratives: Economic Dispossession and the Illusion of Freedom in the Caribbean
The Journal of Caribbean Literatures

CFP Deadline: 22 March 2017

The Journal of Caribbean Literatures, a peer-reviewed academic journal, seeks articles for a special issue that explores the ways in which contemporary economic dispossession replicates, mirrors, or refigures the slave plantation system. What kind of art is produced within this context of dispossession?

The institution of slavery was a predatory economic system in which slaves were alienated from the benefits of their labor, a dislocation that can be identified as economic dispossession. For many Caribbean nations, the emancipation of slaves in the 19th century did not lead to a fundamental transformation from the exploitative labor systems of the plantation economy. Furthermore, various forms of colonial dispossession have continued in the post-independence era. Referring to Martinique’s quasi-colonial status as an overseas department of France, Édouard Glissant characterizes “dispossession” in Caribbean Discourses as the lack of productive autonomy that occurs when a country lacks agency over its means of production due to the dependency on and control by imperial nations (120). By extension, one could consider the territorial conquests, guardianships, invasions, occupations, protectorates, unilateral trade agreements, and trade embargoes as creating the grounds for economic dispossession when one country’s economy is under the hegemonic control of another. With its location in the Global South, many Caribbean nations remain under the dominance of North American and former imperial masters from First World nations in the Global North. The maintenance of old systems of domination may suggest not only the amorphous quality of slavery, but also the notion that bondage continues under the guise of freedom. In this light, it appears that slavery has been re-imagined under newer structures of domination in which the New World Order of global capitalism creates the grounds for unequal relations of power with the support of hegemonic institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank, NATO, IMF, etc.

In this special issue of The Journal of Caribbean Literatures, we welcome literary and interdisciplinary inquiries into the refiguration of the slave economy in contemporary Caribbean societies. How do literary texts capture this sublime reappearance of the slave plantation and associated dispossession? If we accept that modern-day political/economic arrangements are examples of dispossession, then how do artists or authors engage with the tension between (dis)possession and self-representation? Are there particular genres that are more equipped to handle such enunciations about dispossession, or is there a tendency toward boundary crossing of genres? What are the functions of voice and body in such representations? Possible topics for this special issue might include, but are not limited to, representations of the following in literary texts:

  • The abrogation of state sovereignty through invasions, annexations, or occupations
  • Capitalism as slavery under the New World Order
  • Political interventions (by NATO or the U.S., for instance) in the name of safeguarding freedom and democracy
  • Economic exploitation in the name of free trade and neoliberalism
  • Sweat shop labor in the Caribbean
  • Tourism as a plantation economy of absentee owners
  • Historical and contemporary forms of territorial possession, protectorates, or guardianship, which may be colonial or neocolonial (such as the advent of globalization and the spread of neoliberalism).
  • The impact of institutions such as WTO, NATO, IMF, World Bank, etc.

Caribbean islands of particular concern include Haiti, Cuba, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Martinique, among others.


Please email a 500-word paper proposal and a brief biographical note to Stacy J. Lettman at with the subject line “JCLs Submission.”

Deadline for proposals is March 22, 2017
Articles will be due in June.

Above adapted from email.