CfP: The Caribbean City, the Cities in the Caribbean



The Caribbean city, the unknown. Heterogeneous human settlements, legacies of the colonial era, refuge of the disadvantaged and homeless, mixed and fragmented, and the showcases of Caribbean tourism, the urban Caribbean presents itself as the economic ambition of these insular territories and other shores bathed by the Caribbean sea. The Caribbean city, a chaotic juxtaposition of modernity and the colonial past, and existing both as a social and political symbol, opens up a rich and immense new area. Sometimes characterized by European allure, the remainder of Africa – some may say -, American city – without a doubt -, hybrid format, the Caribbean city presents a particular subject of study.

These cities are shaped by the colonization of the Americas, in a singular geographic environment and following the dynamics of various trajectories: Island territories, more or less cramped, strips of mainland bordered by massive mountains on South American shores, mouthpieces of vast rivers, transformations linked to ways of life where tradition and modernity intersect. In these dense and disparate human settlements, economic and political challenges accumulate. Aware of their singularity, of the richness of a heritage more or less valued in the best possible way and the challenges of (urban) development that take shape, these urban territories offer an exciting field for the innovative projects, initiatives to transform neighbourhoods in crisis by constructing buildings that respond to the challenges of the 21st century.

These urban territories are in the first place those of island-cities, in the image of urbanization, diffuse examples which now reach the soils of Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin … There are also vast complexities like the East-West Corridor of Trinidad. From the ruins of Port-au-Prince to the ghettos of Kingston via the comfortable lethargy of the Cuban capital, Havana the proud, the cities and the urban forms of Caribbean space constitute the subject of rich and complex studies seldom explored to date. The bibliographic review demonstrates the present limits: The principal works are coordinated by R.B. Potter with a first summary Urbanization, Planning and Development in the Caribbean (1989), followed by The Urban Caribbean in an Era of Global Change (2000). Highlighting additionally the synthetic approaches of A. Portes, C. Dore-Cabral and P. Lanbolt (1997) and E. Rojas (2002). In the French Antilles, it is worth mentioning the works of S. Letchimy (1992), D. Martouzet (2001 and 2002) and J.V. Marc (2007).

In what way can the Caribbean city constitute a singular subject of study? Does the Caribbean city exist? What identity? What singularities? What specificities? What comparisons with others? The “combinaison de territoires” (Roncayolo) and the “irrégularités de la ville” (Rolleau-Berger) open multiples paths of research as a decryption of social reports (Lefebvre) in these landscapes shaped by the relentless dynamics of socio-ethnic-spatial segregation. From exclusion to inclusion, with the (illusory?) discourse on social diversity in these territories, dense and narrow, deconstructed, which juxtapose spatial fragmentation – the places? To exacerbated antagonisms, between exclusive islets that concentrate on excessive and ostentatious riches – on the feet of which extend into the immediate spaces – spaces of refuge – where poverty, marginalization, discrimination accumulate and recompose more or less on a daily basis between economic survival, parallel economy, illicit economy and formal economy, all in practically permanent interaction… That is to really invest in these composite territories, to give a “lisibilité du paysage urbain” (K. Lynch), deconstruct the meaning of entangled symbols more or less known, to identify the coherence and the logic of territories on a daily basis toward a combination of dynamics and interactions.

If the Caribbean city constitutes a central subject of study, it is a question of clarifying the contours, the originalities but also the process and the dynamics of shared construction. The study of the city can be addressed from one case study, from one global approach to the scale of the Caribbean and toward comparisons (beyond the framework of the Caribbean) in a context of globalization. The topic is open to all the contributions relating to the implementation of coastal tourism through the development of recreation, in the field of studies of geography, sociology, history, anthropology, ecology, urbanism, architecture, engineering and urban studies.

Among the privileged topics

  • The geographic approach to urbanization in the Caribbean
  • Cities and urban systems
  • The history of the city and the urban landscapes in the Caribbean
  • The stages of urban construction
  • The city-capital
  • Identity and heritage
  • The city as a space of refuge
  • Crisis and pervasiveness of poverty
  • The city addressing risks
  • Fragmentation and segregation versus inclusion and social diversity
  • New uses of the city and territorial recompositions
  • Articulation and disarticulation of urban spaces
  • The question of brownfields: Meaning, issues and challenges
  • Nature of/in the city
  • Construction and/or reconstruction of the Caribbean city
  • Urban future(s) and future of the Caribbean city
  • International contributions to and from the Caribbean city.

Submission guidelines

Please refer to the Instructions to Authors page and submit your contribution to

  • September 30th, 2017: deadline for abstract submission

  • December 1st, 2017: deadline of manuscript submission
  • December 2017 – February 2018: manuscript assessment by the Scientific Committee
  • March 2018: finalization of texts by authors
  • April 2018: publication of the special issue (N° 39/2018)

Scientific coordinators

  • Huhua Cao, Professor of Geography, Université of Ottawa
  • Ndongo Mebometa, Researcher, Institute of African Studies, Carleton University

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s