Freshwater Poetics in the Caribbean: Postcard Pasts, Dread Futures

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“Freshwater Poetics in the Caribbean: Postcard Pasts, Dread Futures”

Online event, Register via Eventbrite

Speaker: Professor Shalini Puri (University of Pittsburgh)


This presentation is part of a book-length project that seeks to amplify a poetics of freshwater justice in the context of the climate crisis. I treat the politics of freshwater as part of broader Caribbean histories of resource extraction and environmental injustice. 

While there exists a rich and substantial body of theoretical and creative work on Caribbean water, it has largely focused on the seas and oceans (the Black Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, Critical Ocean Studies, and environmental humanities more broadly). There is comparatively little work on Caribbean freshwater, especially in the humanities and especially outside of discrete disaster events. The poetics I pursue largely leave aside moments of both spectacular crisis and triumphant uprising in favor of ordinary, daily practices of living with water scarcity.

'I'm interested in exploring: How to witness, represent, interpret, and amplify such everyday encounters with water scarcity and often fragmentary forms of everyday resistance?  How might some African-diasporic conceptual frameworks that center environmental justice productively redirect discourses of the Anthropocene? And what poetics for freshwater justice, what activist imaginaries, might the fraught genre of the postcard yet yield?

I pursue these questions in dialogue with the work of Isabel Hofmyer, Rob Nixon, Elizabeth De Loughrey, Krista Thompson, Mimi Sheller, Saidiya Hartman, Aliyah Abdur-Rahman, Veena Das, Kei Miller, Lorna Goodison, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, and Olive Senior.'



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Shalini Puri is Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work spans Caribbean, postcolonial, gender, and memory studies; indentureship, slavery, and incarceration; environmental humanities; and social movements. She is especially interested in interdisciplinary and fieldwork-based methods that explore the intersection of the arts, everyday life, and social justice. Puri co-founded the Pitt Prison Education Project.  

She is the author of The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present: Operation Urgent Memory and the award-winning The Caribbean Postcolonial. She has (co)edited 4 books: Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities; Caribbean Military Encounters; The Legacies of Caribbean Radical Politics; and Marginal Migrations. She edits Palgrave Macmillan’s New Caribbean Studies series.  

She is at work on a book entitled “Poetics for Freshwater Justice: Postcards of the Caribbean Anthropocene."


Registration closes 2 hours before the start of the event. You will be sent the link within 48 hours of the event.

Caribbean Studies Network