A celebratory conference placing Andrew Salkey’s legacy in the modern moment and exploring the Caribbean diasporic networks of today will be held at The Knowledge Centre, The British Library, London on Saturday 20th June 2020.
- Professor Robert A. Hill, leading scholar on Marcus Garvey and Research Professor, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles
- Professor Nadia Ellis, author of Territories of the Soul: Queered Belonging in the Black Diaspora, English Department, University of California, Berkeley
Writer and broadcaster Andrew Salkey became a central figure in a circle of Caribbean writers, artists and intellectuals when he moved to London from Jamaica in the 1950s, later co-founding the Caribbean Artists Movement and dedicating his life to literary activism across the Caribbean diaspora. While his achievements and influence were widely acknowledged in his own lifetime, his name is less-well-known today. Twenty-five years on from Salkey’s death, this conference seeks to retrieve his legacy and to open up questions about today’s Caribbean diasporic networks. How have they changed? Are the same questions from the past still important today?
Born in Panama in 1928 and raised in Jamaica, Andrew Salkey was a novelist, poet, editor, broadcaster and academic. He embodied the Black Radical Tradition as a member of the League of Coloured Peoples and the Movement for Colonial Freedom; as an author and folklorist; and in his support for revolutionary Cuba and the freedom struggles of Guyana and Chile. Salkey was the main presenter and writer-in-residence in the Caribbean section of the BBC World Service giving a platform for a generation of writers including Sam Selvon, George Lamming and V S Naipaul through its ‘Caribbean Voices’ programme. He was influential in the British publishing industry, recommending V S Naipaul and Wilson Harris to Andre Deutsch and Faber & Faber respectively, championing women writers such as Beryl Gilroy, and supporting Bogle L’Ouverture and New Beacon Books in their pioneering roles as the first publishing houses for Black writing in Britain. In 1966, he co-founded the Caribbean Artists Movement alongside Kamau Brathwaite and John La Rose. From 1976 until his death in 1995, Salkey lived in the US and worked as Professor of Creative Writing at Hampshire College in Amherst. His life and work have been seen as embodying the Black Radical Tradition.
Dubbed the unofficial archivist of the Caribbean cultural scene by his friend Sam Selvon, he preserved not only his own literary drafts, diaries and wide-ranging correspondence, but also rare printed ephemera, news cuttings, project files and sound recordings. The Andrew Salkey Archive will be open to researchers at the British Library from autumn 2020.
We are currently accepting abstracts for 15-minute papers from scholars and early career researchers with an interest in Caribbean diaspora studies. We encourage paper proposals from a wide variety of institutions. We also welcome papers from writers, artists, performers, activists and archivists.
Themes to consider:
- The works of Andrew Salkey
- Literary and cultural networks across the Diaspora – past and present
- Women’s writing and activism
- The Caribbean Artists Movement
- Diasporic communication, languages and idioms
- Expressions of home, belonging, exile, transnationality
- Radical Politics, Black Radical Aesthetics, human liberation
- The politics of the archive, memory and erasure, the ethics of dispersed and contested archives, Decolonising the Archive
- New media, broadcasting, publishing, literary festivals
A British Library conference in collaboration with Goldsmiths Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies, Goldsmiths MA in Black British Writing and The Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library
Access bursaries of up to £250 will be available to delegates not in permanent employment to help with travel and/or childcare costs. Details of how to apply will be shared with applicants once paper acceptances have been circulated. The bursaries have been made available through support from the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. Any enquiries about the bursaries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abstracts for papers and enquiries should be sent by e-mail to Eleanor Casson, Eleanor.Casson@bl.uk
Deadline for abstracts: Monday 27th January 2020
Decisions announced: March 2020