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Call for Papers — Creative Activism Now!: Andrew Salkey and Today’s Diasporic Cultural Networks

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.

Keynote speakers:

  • 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

Abstracts for papers and enquiries should be sent by e-mail to Eleanor Casson,

Deadline for abstracts: Monday 27th January 2020

Decisions announced: March 2020

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Nigeria’s Fulani men who get whipped to find a wife

Sharo is a traditional cultural practice where young Fulani men in Nigeria compete to find a wife. The participants are flogged with wooden sticks and canes to test their endurance.
But the practice has declined in recent years, with some Fulani men describing it as dangerous and forbidden in Islam.
The BBC’s Yusuf Yakasai travelled to Jigawa in Northern Nigeria where some Fulani clans are determined to keep the tradition alive.

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Call for Papers: “The Great Debates in Africana Religion”

The Journal of Africana Religions has announced a Call for Proposals on “The Great Debates in Africana Religious Studies.” The deadline for submission of proposals is February 15, 2019.

Description: What are the great debates in the academic study of Africana religions? The Journal of Africana Religions invites 150-word proposals for a special issue on the simmering, essential, and revelatory debates in our field. Such debates may be implicit or explicit. Prospective authors will define and analyze the debates that they think are worth exploring.

The modern European study of religion was born in the colonial and imperial encounters among Africana people, colonial officials, and imperial theorists such as E. B. Tylor, and Africana religions not only provided raw data for the making of religious studies but also constituted a discourse whose terms became essential to various modern fields of knowledge. Since then, debates about Africana religions have been essential to the modern humanities and social sciences and to their application beyond the academy. See, for example, the notable brouhaha between Melville J. Herskovits and E. Franklin Frazier on whether African-descended people in the Americas retained African cultural traits, which became important to public policy-making, national identity, and ethnic solidarity.

What twenty-first century debates are essential in the study of Africana religions? Illustrative questions might include:

  1. Are Africana religions an impediment or asset to social development, gender equity, and political liberation? Outline the major scholarly positions on this question.
  2. Does the study of Africana religions sometimes privilege Orisha devotion or other indigenous religions as authentically African, even as the vast majority of Africana peoples practice Christianity or Islam?
  3. What is the state of the field in understanding the concept of the Africana religious diaspora—how has this debate changed over time, what are its main arguments now, and where does the debate seem to be going?
  4. The field is often divided along disciplinary lines. What debates are explicit or implicit in theological, anthropological, sociological, historical, literary, and comparative religious accounts of Africana religions?
  5. What are the disagreements among scholars on the continent, in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and how do geography and power shape the very definition of what counts as an academic argument?
  6. How have modernity, tradition, and primitivity functioned as complicated categories for Africana religious identity, experience, and scholarship? How has technology shaped Africana religious experience and the interpretation of Africana religious cultures?

Proposals are due on February 15, 2019 to Final essays of 5,000 words in length are due on August 15, 2019. All essays will be peer-reviewed. Questions? Email the journal or tweet @jafricanarelig.

For full Call for Papers, see