Representing gender-based violence: literature, performance and activism in the Anglophone Caribbean


Social Change And Gender-Based Violence:
Representations In Caribbean Literature And Performance Cultures

Online Symposium, 22 to 23 September 2022
Closing date for Abstract and Bio submissions: 29 July 2022

Call for submissions

Gender-based violence (GBV) has a history in the foundation of colonial enterprises in the Caribbean where sexual violence and the (re)ordering of masculinities and femininities were central to the control of racialised, gendered and classed social groups. Though social changes led to the “delegitimization of violence against women” (Reddock 2004, xvi), in contemporary Caribbean society, the problem of GBV persists. GBV is inextricably linked to cultural beliefs about male dominance, economic exclusion, policing of sexualities, and multiple intersecting dimensions of social difference.

Social movements in the Caribbean have historically risen to defend the rights, bodies, and dignity of Caribbean people who have been victimised by GBV. Rosina Wiltshire-Brodber emphasised, “The Caribbean gender issue cannot be divorced from the fact that Caribbean men and women cannot respect and value each other if as a people they do not respect and value themselves” (Wiltshire 1988, 147).

Caribbean literary and performance cultures were key to the raising of consciousness, activism, and public mobilisations for social change. Recent social anthems such as “Leave Me Alone” from Calypso Rose and the emergence of youth-based social action groups that challenge GBV through poetry, fiction and blogs are examples of art employed as activism to generate social change.

This symposium, Social Change and Gender-based Violence: Representation in Caribbean Literature and Performance Cultures, will explore the complex and contradictory meanings, discourses, and aesthetics of GBV as represented in print and performance cultures. We see print and performance cultures as published literary texts, spoken word, calypso, chutney soca and dancehall music, to name a few. In doing so, the symposium will explore how literature and performance cultures reciprocally articulate and shape collective unconscious and cultural beliefs around GBV.

The symposium seeks to illuminate both the solidarities and divergences of politics that emerge within these genres, attesting to the dynamic regional cultural, racial, national, and personal affiliations and perspectives of artists working in the region. 

Considering this, the symposium asks:

  • How is GBV being represented in Caribbean literature and performance cultures?
  • How do expressions of gender ideals, identities and expectations in Caribbean literature and performance cultures inform perspectives on GBV?
  • How do the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, geography, and age contextualise discourses on GBV in Caribbean literature and popular culture?
  • What are the political possibilities and limitations of arts activism for social change in the Caribbean?

The symposium welcomes papers grounded in cultural studies, gender studies, historical and literary studies, as well as interdisciplinary approaches that explore the textual and performance representations of GBV. We welcome papers that put forward critique, creative methodologies, new conceptual frameworks and activist insights on the contemporary and future contexts of social change and GBV in the Caribbean. 

Following the symposium, a journal special issue will be published.

This symposium is part of an international, collaborative research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. The Principal Investigator for Representing gender-based violence: Literature, performance and activism in the Anglophone Caribbean is Dr Lucy Evans and the Co-Investigators are Dr Gabrielle Hosein and Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah. The Research Associates are Dr Kelsi Delaney and Mr Amílcar Sanatan.

We invite papers on, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Race, class, gender and sexualities in the representations of GBV in Caribbean literature and performance cultures
  • The role of literature and performance cultures in social movements against GBV
  • Arts and pedagogies in literature and performance cultures
  • Histories of feminist and women’s literary and performance cultural movements
  • Feminist social change as a literary and performance cultural movement

Submission guidelines

Abstracts (200 to 250 words) and bios (80 to 100 words) should be submitted to Dr Kelsi Delaney and Mr Amílcar Sanatan with the subject line “Social Change and GBV Abstract” by 29 July 2022.

All correspondence or questions regarding the symposium should be addressed to the symposium organisers, Dr Kelsi Delaney and Mr Amílcar Sanatan. 


Reddock, Rhoda. 2004. “Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: An Introduction.” In Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses, edited by Rhoda Reddock, xiii-xxxiv. Kingston, Jamaica: UWI Press.

Wiltshire-Brodber, Rosina. 1988. “Gender, Race and Class in the Caribbean.” In Gender in Caribbean Development, edited by Patricia Mohammed and Catherine Shepherd, 142-155. Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago: UWI Women and Development Studies Project.

Unstitching silence: Fiction and poetry by Caribbean writers on gender-based violence 

Call for submissions to a fiction and poetry anthology to be published by Peekash Press in 2023.

Presented by the WHO and the UN as a global public health crisis, gender-based violence (GBV) is particularly pervasive in Anglophone Caribbean countries, which have some of the highest rates of reported rape and femicide in the world. Homophobic and transphobic violence is also an urgent human rights issue in the region. GBV can be understood as any form of violence and abuse – physical, psychological or emotional – which is rooted in gender norms and power dynamics. It can be inflicted on women, girls, boys and men in a variety of contexts. This call for submissions, cognizant of the vital work already undertaken in the region and its diaspora on GBV, seeks contributions to a fiction and poetry anthology focusing on the roots, repercussions and systemic truths of GBV as they affect a plurality of Caribbean citizens. 

This phenomenon has long been a concern in Caribbean literary writing. However, the topic remains pressing, particularly at the present moment when the pandemic has intensified occurrences of GBV globally. This anthology seeks to extend ongoing conversations around GBV in the region, offering a platform for new and emerging writers who have something to say on this issue. GBV is a challenging subject to write about and to read about, and yet it a subject which requires more attention, reflection and debate. The anthology will ask: How can stories of GBV be told with both sensitivity and candour, in ways that impact meaningfully on those who encounter them in fiction and poetry? How might the sharing of stories empower victims and survivors of GBV? What are the connections between creative narratives that centre GBV, and the development of policies and activities aimed at reducing GBV? And are definitions of GBV shifting, alongside evolving attitudes to gender and sexuality in the region? 

Possible areas of focus could include (but need not be limited to): 

  • Sexual violence
  • Relationships and GBV
  • GBV in inter-racial relationships
  • GBV in the LGBTQ+ community (we would particularly welcome submissions on trans perspectives)
  • Toxic masculinities
  • GBV within religious and spiritual contexts and settings
  • GBV in non-nuclear and non-traditional family structures 
  • GBV as it affects migrant communities
  • Writing on GBV that deals with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases 

Poetry submissions should be 3 to 5 poems not exceeding 15 pages. Fiction submissons should be minimum 2,500 words and maximum 7000 words. Please send your submission to by 15 January 2022, along with a 50-word biography. All those whose submissions are accepted for publication will participate in a virtual masterclass run by Shivanee Ramlochan which will take place in May 2022, hosted by Bocas Lit Fest. Contributors to the anthology will receive a fee of £250. 


Submissions need to be by authors who either hold Caribbean citizenship or were born in the Caribbean. Submissions must have been written in English originally; translations are not eligible. Submissions should be previously unpublished. Contributors to the anthology will receive a fee of £250.

About the editors

Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet, arts journalist and blogger. Her debut poetry collection, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, which addresses and gives voice to survivors of sexual assault, was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2017 and was shortlisted for the 2018 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.  

Lucy Evans is Associate Professor in Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leicester UK. Her research focuses on contemporary Caribbean literature and she is currently leading a collaborative research project, ‘Representing gender-based violence: literature, performance and activism in the Anglophone Caribbean’, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. 

About Peekash Press

Peekash Press was founded in 2014 as a joint imprint of Akashic Books and Peepal Tree Press, dedicated to publishing Caribbean writers based at home in the region. In 2017, the literary NGO Bocas Lit Fest assumed responsibility for the imprint, which is now based in Trinidad and Tobago.

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