The Digital Caribbean is a graduate course I taught at the CUNY Graduate Center in Spring 2014 and Fall 2015. The course site is available here.
In its rhizomatic structure and development, the internet is analogous to Caribbean culture: born out of disparate pieces and peoples; always already predicated on an elsewhere as home or authority; always already working to ignore geography and physical space as barriers to connection. This seminar probes the various epistemological, political and strategic ways in which cyberspace intersects with the formation and conceptualization of the Caribbean.
What constitutes the Caribbean is, of course, not a new question. As we explore the digital media productions that continue to reconfigure the social and geographic contours of the region, we will build on familiar debates surrounding study of the Caribbean. Issues to be addressed include: Geography: What challenge, if any, might cyberspace pose to our geo-centered conceptualization of Caribbean cultures? Community: In what ways do online spaces that claim (or are claimed by) the Caribbean struggle, together or individually, to articulate a cohesive culture? Archival history and voice: Does the ephemerality of online life and the economics of access endanger or enable what we may call the Caribbean subject? Identity and representation: What indeed comprises “the Caribbean subject”? How do questions of authenticity get deployed in crucial moments of tension involving diasporic subjects, particularly in the sped-up world of digital production? These questions, framed by Caribbean Studies, will be our primary focus, but they will be articulated with questions and theories from new digital media studies about knowledge production and circulation, digital boundaries and the democracy of access and usage.
In addition to examining primary digital sources, we will read articles from writers including: Stuart Hall, Kamau Brathwaite, Edouard Glissant, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, David Scott, Annie Paul, Curwen Best, Lisa Paravisini-Gebert, Anna Everett, Karim H. Karim, Lisa Makamura, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Jennifer Brinkerhoff and others.
The course stems from my in-progress book project, Caribbean Articulations: Storytelling in a Digital Age. I taught undergraduate versions of the course at Williams College in Spring 2017 and at York College, CUNY in Spring 2020. I also published an essay based primarily on the first iteration of the course in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy: “Teaching the Digital Caribbean: The Ethics of a Public Pedagogical Experiment“