When Palm Trees Break: the Fractured Horizons of Black Caribbean World-Making in the Midst of Crisis
Williams-King, Tahnee (Amber)
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For communities pressed to the margins of society and the globe, particularly those who are poor, racialized or of the Global South, ecological crisis is not some unimaginable elsewhere but rather an omnipresent, pervasive reality. In the Caribbean basin, the increasingly powerful storms brewing in the warming waters of the Atlantic decimate various parts of the region yearly; volcanic activity darkens the sky and earth; landslides reconfigure geographies; drought and pestilence breed scarcity; and now pandemic wreaks havoc in spectacular fashion. My research explores the space that crisis takes up in the social and political imagination and material conditions of life, particularly in the context of the Caribbean diaspora. Via a theoretical and artistic conceptualization of “fracture”, I think through the ways Caribbean life and living may act as openings or cracks: quotidian practice s that call up the tensions and possibilities of an unknown/otherwise/elsewhere, or that may tear, rupture and destabilize the catastrophic structures and conditions that mark our current world. The entrances and exits charted by a Caribbean radical imagination present portals to or from other worlds, windows into (un)imaginable ecologies of life and living, and alternate horizons of being. Using found images and text, I discuss the ways archives capture and preserve crises, and the ways artistic traditions may be used to ‘fracture’ this presumed coherency by offering new ways of imaging and imagining past, present and future.