Cruz Garcia, Jelisa Blumberg, Pedro Cruz Cruz, Venesa Alicea-Chuqui

1. We[1] are not islands[2], but a mountain range that connects rhythm, soul, body, folded diaspora[3], atmosphere, expression … not singular nor contained. Like the Caribbean, our existence is a series of interconnected events, evidenced through soil, seeds, precious metals, scattered stones across the ocean floor, stolen artifacts, displaced lands, exiled people, and unexplored imaginaries. It is in reclaiming these obscured histories that we continue to experience, cultivate, learn, produce, nurture, and grow into being[4].

2. The Caribbean is not: a site to project your desires, a blueprint of extraction and exploitation, a mere tourist destination, a land paradise devoid of its people. It is not beauty without political agency or chaotic spaces lacking imperial order. The Caribbean will not be reduced to a tax haven, or a two-week vacation spot. It is not a taste of paradise. The Caribbean is not defined by its colonial ties to the United Kingdom nor Spain nor France nor the United States nor the Netherlands nor Portugal nor nation nor state.

Cruz Garcia, Jelisa Blumberg, Pedro Cruz Cruz, Venesa Alicea-Chuqui

3. The Caribbean reclaims, pirates[5], and counter-narrates the marketization of island culture consumption and servitude that is fed through cruise ship architecture, a derivative of the slave ship apparatus, a colonizing tool of genocide, displacement, and extraction. Instead, we invoke vessels of archipelagic connections and resistance.

4. Like the ocean's currents, the Caribbean surges and sways, defying oppressive tides, borders, lines, and edges in revolutionary displays. The Caribbean is insurgently loud, countering dominant paradigms of Cartesian thinking, rigid grids, fixed property boundaries, monolithic cultures, officialized languages and pronunciations, legalized divisions, oppressive systems of control, zonings of cruelty, military occupations, forced interiorization, infrastructures of assimilation, and the omnipresent and continuous whitewashing of historicizing delirium.

Cruz Garcia, Jelisa Blumberg, Pedro Cruz Cruz, Venesa Alicea-Chuqui

5. The Caribbean holds pedagogical models that prioritize the significance of lived experiences and the inherent power within peoples and landscapes, cultivating a power of transformation beyond reparations to abolish the restraints imposed by empire. Caribbean futures embrace a just transition in energy, food sovereignty, land liberation, clean water, free quality housing, healthcare, and education for all. It embraces interdependence of all beings as a way of teaching and learning about radical archipelagos that are continental, multilingual, spiraling, ancestral, critical, and emancipatory.

6. The Caribbean transcends binaries unapologetically. It is simultaneously a mosaic of identities, woven together and clashing with each other. In its strangeness, queerness, and transness, it accepts and denies. The Caribbean is pervasive and opaque[6]; it resists being read and interpreted, and also demands new forms of reading and interpretation. Institutions that wield asymmetrical power and their studies, departments, archaeologies, writings, curatorial programs, syllabi, and curricula cannot render or imagine the Caribbean.

Cruz Garcia, Jelisa Blumberg, Pedro Cruz Cruz, Venesa Alicea-Chuqui

7. The Caribbean moves at different speeds and swings, encompassing its multiplicities. It embodies a state of perpetual flux, a dynamic that has collided throughout centuries with a continued violent imposition, coercion, and importation of extractive models masked by manipulative fictions of modernity. The manifestation of the capitalist machine for living, production, and reproduction are instead replaced with notions of rest as existence, that slowness might bring about the world we desire. Against hyper-productive territories we propose lazy landscapes at the end of work.

8. The spiraling spatial temporality of Caribbean epistemologies is an always expanding bibliography that includes Kamau Brathwaite, Luisa Capetillo, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Jamaica Kincaid, Audre Lorde, José Marti, Édouard Glissant, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Derek Walcott, Sylvia Wynter, Roque Raquel Salas Rivera, Ana Lydia Vega, Johan Mijail, Rita Indiana, El General, and Villano Antillano, but also entire forms of knowledge exchange that happen in many forms and at different times [7]. The entanglements that make the Caribbean encompass a spirit of transgression of ideas and forms of being that are untranslatable, that only operate in the realm of approximations, that conjure letters and literature, photography and cinema, spoken word, and rhythmic embodiments of linguistic revolutions and sonic innovations. These theories of worldmaking are philosophies of kinship and total expression[8]; they inhabit mind, body, and land through poetics of sweat and always finding new ways to do things, all ways.

9. We are not Islands.

Cruz Garcia, Jelisa Blumberg, Pedro Cruz Cruz, Venesa Alicea-Chuqui
Cruz Garcia, Jelisa Blumberg, Pedro Cruz Cruz, Venesa Alicea-Chuqui

Reviewed by Fallon Samuels Aidoo, Albert Chao, Gina Fernandes, Stephen F. Gray, Lisa C. Henry, Ozayr Saloojee, and Jess Zimbabwe.

This article first appeared in the October 2023 issue of ARCHITECT, which was guest edited and designed by Dark Matter U.

[1] “We” - Are islands, continents, archipelagos, diasporas, vessels, worlds, past, present, future, currents, winds, trees, soil …
[2] Islands - An island symbolizes interconnectedness in geology, reminding us of our deep connection to each other, nature, and the world. Understanding this web brings holistic consciousness.
[3] Folded diaspora - A concept that reimagines diaspora as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, where cultural identities and narratives intersect and intertwine, reflecting the intricate tapestry of human migration and interconnectedness.
[4] “Being” - Beyond the confines of the Western imagination, “being” transcends the limitations of conceptualization, offering a path to fuller actualization and deeper self-awareness.
[5] Pirates - piracy here represents a daring act of reclamation, a bold journey upon uncharted and uncontrollable waters. It stands as a testament to human resilience and an exploration of unconventional pathways.
[6] Opaqueness in reference to Glissant.
[7] A non exhaustive list of contributors to ever expansive Caribbean thought and theory.
[8] Total expression in reference to Kamau Braithwaite.