• Digital Maroonage in the Caribbean

    Below is the text of a presentation I gave in December 2016 at the Caribbean Digital III Conference held in New York City. Dominica is a maroon country. Its topography and social geography reveal a complex network of resistance to slavery and imperial oppression and authority. People are resistant to everything that remotely resembles newness or change, or anything simply because someone a. I say this with great generalization only to emphasize the level of skepticism with which I enter a small island society. Like many of the other small islands of the archipelago, Dominica’s economic landscape further textures the maroon ethos of the nation. It is against the backdrop…

  • Phyllis Shand Allfrey’s The Orchid House: returning home to a new generation

    I was asked by Polly Pattullo of Papillote Press to contribute the introduction to Phyllis Shand Allfrey’s 1953 novel The Orchid House. For me, this was a special request because it came from someone who I admired personally and professionally, and who had also done so much work in recovering the image of Allfrey here in Dominica. I discovered Allfrey’s writing during my college and graduate school work, although her name had been mentioned while I was growing up. Including The Orchid House in my doctoral dissertation on reading practices introduced me to new ways of reading Caribbean literature and, more importantly, new lens through which I could view the complex…

  • Literary Festivals

    Literary Festivals: Culture Mining or Culture Making? (Previously published in The Analyst, a business-focused magazine, June 2012) The summer months are a hot season for those in the business of culture. The literary festival, now a signature event in many islands, has become an attractive way for book connoisseurs, culture enthusiasts and local businesses to capitalize on their imdividual and collective interests. For the past several years, Trinidad’s NGC Bocas Literary Festival, the Bim Lit Fest in Barbados amd Dominica’s Nature Island Literary Festival have lured the most influential names in the region’s literary, academic and performance fields from all around the world and juxtaposed their gravitas with the promising…

  • This Thing Called Culture

    This thing called Culture, and why we need to preserve it (Previously published in The Analyst, a business-focused magazine, December 2012) Ask anyone in the Caribbean region if they are proud of their culture and the likelihood that the answer is yes is very high and not at all surprising. Ask many of those people what they think culture means – whether West Indian culture, Caribbean culture, Trini culture, Lucian culture, Bim culture, DA culture – and the populist response, while nuanced, will also prove unsurprisingly similar. Most people will talk of the food and conversation, the tropical location and warm air (a major token of nostalgia for the emigrants in…

  • The Future(s) of Caribbean Reading

    The Future(s) of Caribbean Reading (Previously published in The Analyst, a business-focused magazine, March 2012) The current debates circling the possible effacement of the book by digital media, especially e-books, reflect a significant transitional moment in the worlds of literary production, dissemination and reception. American writer Jonathan Franzen, author of bestselling novels including Freedom, recently referred to the onslaught of the e-book as surely a threat to civic discourse, the permanence of the book object and to our stable conceptions of pleasure and leisure.[1] However, Franzen’s concerns, while timely and relevant, should be taken with a grain of salt and a dose of history. Film and television did not replace…