CFP: Sargasso (“Cooperation, Solidarity, & Mutuality”)

Here is a call for papers from Sargasso, a Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language, and Culture in collaboration with the Institute of Cooperativism at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras. Sargasso invites submissions for an upcoming issue titled “Cooperation, Solidarity, & Mutuality.” The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2021.

Broadly conceptualized, cooperation proposes that collective well-being and mutual efforts accomplish more than individual efforts through human endeavor that is based on the values of mutual support, responsibility, democracy, solidarity, and equality. While cooperatives and cooperativism have a long, though marginalized, history in the Caribbean, cooperation is infrequently centered as a framework in Caribbean Studies. Both theoretical approaches and specific manifestations of cooperation may be activated to offer critical alternatives to hegemonic epistemological, cultural, social, political, and economic models and discourses, and now is a crucial time to center them.

The COVID-19 pandemic and international antiracist movements activated by the murder of George Floyd in the US are unprecedented global events that offer the opportunity to (re)analyze the role and practice of cooperation in our societies. The current global health crisis has exposed a devastating lack of coordinated efforts within and between nations, laid bare treacherous inequities in access to basic services, and accelerated violations of human and environmental rights. In the Caribbean, legacies of colonial oppression and contemporary political struggles alike exacerbate these trends. Yet, the racist structures that perpetuate egregious inequities are being challenged in significant and powerful ways. In the midst of current political, social, and economic reckonings, how can various forms of cooperation be leveraged to frame paradigm shifts and offer concrete alternatives to dominant discourse and practices?

Myriad forms of cooperative organization and thinking are embedded in Caribbean histories, societies, and cultures. Credit unions and informal community banks are perhaps the most visible cooperative structures in the region – from Puerto Rico’s robust cooperative infrastructure to the more informal lift or box in Antigua and Barbuda, examples of these practices abound. Cooperatives and cooperativism across the region have been studied and documented in works such as Antulio Parrilla Bonilla’s Cooperativismo en Puerto Rico: una crítica (1974) and An introduction to Co-operation in the Caribbean (1994) published by Jamaica’s National Union of Cooperative Societies. For the humanities, cooperation also plays a critical⎯if less obvious⎯role in the history of democracies, knowledge building and sharing, artistic production, cultural endeavors, and projects of regional cooperation. Collectives such as the state-sponsored Unión de Escritores y Artistas Cubanos (UNEAC) in Cuba and the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust with roots in Jamaica are based on foundations of cooperation to critically support artists’ work while offering public access to and participation in various forms of artistic expression. Research on the role of cooperation as resistance can provide a necessary platform to challenge hegemonic practices and policies, as suggested by Naomi Klein in her showcasing of cooperative efforts after Hurricane María in The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists (2018).

The editors of this volume seek to highlight how consideration of cooperation and cooperativism bolsters insights and knowledge associated with the humanities and ways in which it assists in conceptualizing critical alternatives to dominant models and discourses that are short-sighted or do not adequately address pressing social, economic, and political problems. While knowledge associated with the study of culture, literature, and language is replete with useful concepts, tools, and resources, we are interested in efforts that can strengthen and make this knowledge more relevant by focusing on equity, sustainability, transformative dialogue, and broad dissemination. We seek narratives of cooperation from a broad range of voices, including academics, activists, arts practitioners, researchers, and cooperativists or entrepreneurs of social and solidarity economies. We invite contributors to share knowledge and experiences at a range of levels: scholarly study, the showcasing of specific approaches to cooperation and solidarity, and the dissemination of information about successful community or regional practices. How can our collective examination of cooperation and cooperative modes of being offer concrete alternatives and illuminate our paths forward?

Possible topics to explore include, but are not limited to:

  • Caribbean cultural traditions & cooperative practices
  • Cooperation, cooperativism, & the arts
  • Alternative economies, cooperativism, social economies, & economies of solidarity
  • Antiracism, cooperation, & solidarity
  • Medical humanities & the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Cooperation for conservation, environmental sustainability, & food security
  • Cooperation as resistance to neoliberalism & disaster capitalism
  • Intersections of linguistics, language planning, & cooperative practices
  • Religion & spirituality from cooperative perspectives
  • Cooperative tourism & travel
  • Migration, cooperation, & diasporic populations

We seek essays that examine cooperation from distinct perspectives, including those that are multi-, inter- or transdisciplinary in orientation. Short fiction, interviews, poetry, and visual art that explore, theorize, or embody cooperative modes of being or critically respond to cooperative movements are also encouraged. Submissions are welcome in English, Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, and Papiamentu. Essays should consist of between 4,000-6,000 words and be prepared according to the guidelines of the latest MLA handbook. Abstracts of 120 words or less that include 4-5 keywords should be submitted in English and Spanish. Photos, illustrations, and other graphics are encouraged. Submissions are due by April 1, 2021 and should be sent to sargassojournal@gmail.com. Contributors will be notified of the status of their submissions in May 2021.

Sargasso is a peer-reviewed journal that has been edited at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras for more than 30 years. Based in the Department of English in the College of Humanities, the journal features work on the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Caribbean and its multiple diasporas.

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