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Caribbean Studies Symposium to Feature Renowned Scholars

by Jonathon Spalding

LEXINGTON, Ky.— Jacqueline Couti, UK professor of French and Italian Studies/Gender and Women Studies, has organized an event that will include renowned scholars Nick Nesbitt, Valérie Loichot and Myriam Chancy in discussing the current research in the field of French Caribbean Studies. Sponsored by the UK College of Arts & Sciences, this event will take a closer look at the Caribbean beyond its stereotypes. 

“Many people often associate the Caribbean with sun, sea and sex in mind,” said Couti, “simplistic and stereotypical views prevent us from seeing histories of survival, of self-determination and resilience against all odds.” 

The two-day symposium kicks off on Feb. 2rd from 4:45-6:30 p.m. in the Niles Art Gallery and is titled, “Narrating the Caribbean: Food for Thought and Food for Soul”.

Loichot will join Couti in examining the socio-political implication of sexuality, gender and violence in French Caribbean literature. 

 “I would like to create a bridge between the literature and culture of the Caribbean and the continental Americas,” said Couti. 

The second session, “Consuming Haiti: Its Haunting Past and Sustainable Future”, will be held on Feb. 3rd, from 4-6 p.m. in the Main Building, Room 103.  

Chancy and Nesbit will explore the controversial representations of Haiti in the media and literature and will demonstrate the challenge of self-determination and independence in a country riddled with both internal and external conflict.  

In 2010 an earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation of Haiti and drew heavy media coverage to the area. According to Couti, the media suddenly bombarded us with images of violence, despair, sexuality and death.

“After the catastrophe, conflicting discussion around the country underlined the necessity for scholars to remind the public of the turbulent and heroic past of Haiti from colonial time to nowadays,” said Couti. “This symposium will help people remember the strong connection between the Old World and the New World.” 

Caribbean Studies offer a wide range of perspectives drawn from the social sciences and the humanities. It examines the political, social and cultural histories of diverse societies in the Americas. As a part of the Spring Diversity Festival, this symposium is one of many initiatives at increasing the internationalization of the College of Arts & Sciences and UK on the whole.