SOCARE Early-Career Symposium 2024

21.– 22. März 2024

„(Im)materiality, new archives and the Caribbean“

Bonn Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies

Amalia S. Levi (Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies)

Raphael Dohardt (Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Teresa Göltl (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg/EHESS Paris)

Keynote: Steeve Buckridge (Grand Valley State University)

The symposium’s primary objective is to facilitate in-depth discussions on questions related to the role of archives in the study of Caribbean history, identity, and cultural heritage.


Call for Participation

In the 15th century, the Caribbean archipelago was being integrated into a colonial contact zone of European Empires, i.e. a social space “where different cultures, meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination” (Pratt 1992: 4). Since then, this area’s history, societies, and languages have been fundamentally (re)shaped by transatlantic connections to Europe and Africa. Furthermore, traces of the pre-Colombian societies and the exchange amongst them remain, despite the destruction inherent in the colonial encounter (cf. Jansen 2015). In light of this diverse, yet conflict-laden heritage, contemporary Caribbean societies (re)negotiate their identities in vivid debates. In regard to (trans)national reference points for the construction of identities, hegemonic (post)colonial narratives differ vastly amongst each other, particularly those by marginalised actors (e.g. Simmons 2009, García Peña 2016). These tensions in the interpretation of the shared history lead to three interrelated pertinent questions:

Where does one find adequate access to information on recent and distant Caribbean history? What is irretrievable? How do different actors actualise this knowledge in societal and political discourses? At the intersection of these tensions, archives have become a fruitful point of interrogation and cross-fertilisation amongst different disciplines. An important link between the aim to document history and to actualise it is Stoler’s (2009: 44) distinction between the “archive-as-source” and the “archive-as-subject.” In other words: what counts as a source and how does the institutionalisation of sources affect discourses? What dynamics guide the transition from pieces of data to pieces of status (Mbembe 2002: 20)? How can we grasp the elusive immateriality of certain types of sources that live beyond archives through permanent transformation, such as songs and dances, rooted in various languages and cultures (Hebblethwaire 2012, Bastian et al. 2018)? To what extent does material culture reveal lived experiences that archival records obscure (Hicks 2020)? Can dealing with one kind of source offer novel perspectives on the other? Do these archives work together or against each other? How is history, as memorised in and through these archives, (re)narrated in relation to the present and the future (Assmann 2007)?

These questions will be guiding the next Socare Early-Career Symposium (21-22 March 2024) to be hosted by the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, where we seek inter- and transdisciplinary approaches from the social sciences, linguistics, history, literature, cultural studies, and neighbouring disciplines. We invite early-career researchers to apply for a workshop (for 12 participants in total) in the form of paper presentations (15 minutes) and in-depth discussion of the paper (30 minutes). For this purpose, the paper – i.e. a sketch of your research project or idea, condensed into up to 5 pages – will be shared with the other participants. Papers will be due by February 25, 2024 to allow participants time to read them. They can be written in German, English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Discussions are in German, English, or another language shared/spoken by all participants (tba).

Please submit your paper proposal (title, max. 300-words abstract and a short CV) to by November 20, 2023.