Mimi Sheller: “Caribbean Futures: Surviving the Anthropocene”


On Tuesday, September 26, Mimi Sheller will deliver the Mead Lecture at UCONN-Storrs’ Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies titled “Caribbean Futures: Surviving the Anthropocene.” The Robert G. Mead Lecture will take place from 3:30 to 5:00pm at the Class of 1947 Room, Babbidge Library, on the Storrs Campus. Here, she shares an excerpt from her forthcoming book The Islanding Effect:

This is not a time for despair. Caribbean thinkers, writers, poets, philosophers, activists and artists have long lived with, dwelt upon, and offered answers to the problem of being at the leading edge of human exploitation of nature and other living beings, within a globe-spanning system of vast inequity and injustice. In the face of these global economies of exploitation, I remain hopeful that the Caribbean has generated visions of alternative development—ideas for local economies that respect human dignity, protect natural ecosystems, ensure justice in labor conditions, and promote human and environmental health.

Caribbean thinkers, writers, poets, philosophers, activists and artists have long lived with, dwelt upon, and offered answers to the problem of “being human after Man,” as Caribbean theorist Sylvia Wynter puts it. [Thank you Aaron Kamugisha for your work on Wynter and James!]

By concentrating on building local community with global awareness, the Caribbean has generated multiple visions of alternative development. In recent times (and against much government policy and global financial institutions) this has meant struggles for the protection of local economies and markets, supporting small-scale, organic, holistic agriculture based on traditional conuco gardens, bringing an end to large-scale mass tourism and coastal over-development, rejecting inappropriate infrastructure that does not serve local needs, limiting mining and other destructive extractive industries, repairing the environment through reforestation and coastal protection, protecting biodiversity and clean water, and asserting embodied freedoms and radical rights to exist.

These ideas for healthier socio-ecologies have largely been barely tolerated, culturally marginalized, or violently crushed by the machinery of slavery, colonialism, and neoliberalism. But they still offer hope and possible guidance to alternative futures for humanity. What if we appreciated, protected, and put into practice these ideas for other ways of being? Could we create networked archipelagos of Caribbean radical praxis that could rhizomatically spread through the world, and perhaps take root as the economies of exploitation fail? If we, humanity, are to survive the Anthropocene, we need to learn from this invaluable cultural praxis of revolutionary anti-colonial culture-building that has survived centuries of man-made disaster.”

For more information on Mimi Sheller, see http://drexel.edu/coas/faculty-research/faculty-directory/sheller-mimi/

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