Almost every country in the Americas has a carnival festival in their ritual calendar. Throughout the Americas - from Rio's and Bahia’s carnivals in Brazil to the Trinidad and Tobago carnival and the New Orleans’ Mardi Gras - carnivals reflect the social order and the attendant social conflict as well as the submerged aspirations and tensions of the respective societies.

Throughout the greater Caribbean and in the Caribbean diaspora, the spread of carnivals have become expressions of national and Pan-Caribbean identities much in line with the transnational and transcultural notion of a “Black Atlantic”.

These carnivals have grown in socio-cultural and political stature and economic importance as generators of festival tourism and new cultural art forms and creative industries exports. In this presentation I will elaborate on how the carnivals allow for the unmasking and re-imagination of social constructions embodied in notions of empire, nation, class, ‘race’, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and even development.

As such, carnivals are not just a ritual, aesthetic and commercial space where psychic and bodily pleasures are enacted, represented and marketed. It is an arena where social values and meaning are put on public display, negotiated and contested.

Dr. Keith Nurse

Principal, SALCC

Keith Nurse (PhD) is the Principal/CEO of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in Saint Lucia. He has worked as Senior Economist and Advisor on Structural Policies and Innovation at the OECD Development Centre in Paris. He is the former WTO Chair at the University of the West Indies where he also served at the Director of the Shridath Ramphal Trade Policy Centre and as the Executive Director of UWI Consulting Inc.

He serves on the executive bureau of the UN Committee for Development Policy, a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). He has served as a member of Hemispheric Programme Advisory Committee of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture. He is a former member of the Economic Development Advisory Board, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr. Nurse has worked as a researcher and consultant to governments and international and regional organizations around the world and has published over 100 scholarly papers and articles on a wide array of issue areas such as trade policy and services, industrial policy and innovation governance, creative industries and digital economy, tourism and cultural heritage, migration and diasporas, gender and economic restructuring, climate action and sustainable development. He is also the executive producer of the docudrama “Forward Home: The Power of the Caribbean Diaspora”.

Dr. Yanique Hume

Head of Culture Studies, UWI

Dr. Yanique Hume is an interdisciplinary scholar, priestess, dancer, and choreographer who specializes in the festive and sacred arts and popular cultures of the Caribbean and broader African Diaspora. She is Head of the Department of Cultural Studies and Lecturer at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Dr. Hume is the co-editor of Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora (2013); Caribbean Popular Culture: Power, Politics and Performance (2016); and Passages and Afterworlds: Anthropological Perspectives on Death in the Caribbean (2018). She has also conducted substantial research on the creative and cultural industries of the Caribbean.

She is President of KOSANBA: The Scholarly Association for the Study of Haitian Vodou and other Africana Religions and is a member of the Hemispheric Caribbean Studies Consortium. As a dancer and choreographer, Dr. Hume has worked with companies in her native Jamaica as well as in Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. She is the recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council, the International Development Research Centre, Ford Foundation, and the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.