Conference Call for Papers

Diaspora Voices 2021 – Crisis, Continuity & Change in the Caribbean

Caribbean Studies Program at University of Toronto

Online conference for U of T Students, as well as Caribbean Studies Students across the region/diaspora

Conference Date: April 29, 2021 (10-4pm)

Submission Deadline: April 1st, 2021


Seemingly overnight, Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it. COVID-19 has highlighted the intersecting vulnerabilities and contradictions of “business-as-usual” development in the Caribbean. Countries designed to be dependent on tourism revenue to import food now find themselves in a situation where they have shortages of both. As a region that is hyper-dependent on tourism for a staggering 50 to 90 percent of the G.D.P. of respective economies, the industry is a vector for both potential income and disease, as tourists often transport COVID to islands which are ill equipped to deal with it. Political leaders who count on remittances and migrant work as a way to avoid making tough, but needed political changes at home, now face the closure of borders. All of this is to be mitigated by states which have increasingly cut social spending due to pre-COVID austerity budgets, while remaining in the path of ever stronger hurricanes, struggling to rebuild critical infrastructure. 

While these may all seem like new problems, Covid-19 has rather amplified the region’s post-independence struggle to build societies which are more self-sufficient, economically diverse, and resilient, while also being able to provide security, stability, and opportunity to the region’s citizens. While we are still assessing the true impact that COVID has had upon the region, it has also sparked new conversations about regional integration, self-sufficiency and solidarity – evidenced by the role of Cuba’s medical internationalism, and Barbados’ more recent distribution of vaccines. This is a venue to examine and discuss the scale and scope of the problems, but also to imagine and articulate solutions. 

About the Event

We invite students from any academic institution in the Toronto area, the Greater Toronto Area, and the Caribbean to participate in the latest edition University of Toronto’s Caribbean Studies Programme’s student-organized, interdisciplinary conference on the Caribbean and its diaspora. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the conference will be online this year, providing a unique opportunity to connect the diaspora in ways that were previously beyond our reach. The annual conference offers a vital public venue to highlight, discuss and celebrate the work and ideas of students interested in the Caribbean. Although the work of undergraduate students will be prioritized, if space permits we will also be accepting submissions from graduate students and community members interested in making presentations. 

The conference this year is centered around Crisis, Continuity, and Change in the Caribbean, but we are accepting a broad range of contributions to enrich the conference’s quality. While original submissions are welcome, this is also a venue to present work that you have already produced, and would like to share. More specifically, we are seeking submissions from the following groups:

  • University-level students across Toronto who have researched a topic about or relating to the Caribbean, and desire to share their work with an engaged audience. Term papers, book/film reports, critical analyses, and any other academic materials are welcome.
  • Students who want to share and reflect upon their experiences as part of practicum or fieldwork training in the Caribbean, or with Caribbean communities in Toronto.
  • Artists: spoken word performers, and creators of poetry, prose, music, visual arts, and other artistic forms (e.g. think pieces) are invited to perform work related to the conference theme. Artists may be asked to discuss the meaning behind their art and their artistic process during the event.
  • Graduate and Ph.D students interested in speaking on panels or being panel facilitators are welcome also.
  • Both Academic and artistic presentations should adhere to a time frame of 10-12 minutes. Submissions will be clustered by content themes and grouped into event timeslots accordingly. 

In order to submit your work for consideration, please submit a short abstract (200-300 words) of your proposed presentation to, making sure to include a title, contact information (email) and 4-5 keywords related to your presentation. 

There are numerous benefits to participating in a conference of this nature. Presenters will have an amazing opportunity to share/discuss their work and ideas with an engaged audience of fellow undergrads, graduate students, Caribbean Studies faculty, and community members.

Other benefits of participating in an academic conference include:

  • Get feedback on an early version of your latest work (e.g., a chance to refine your research) 
  • Meet new people in in your field from across U of T campuses, across the city, the from the Caribbean and across the diaspora 
  • Learn about the latest research undertaken by your peers and what change-driven initiatives are currently underway
  • Improve your public speaking, presentation, and communication skills in a safe and supportive space
  • Dive into the history and culture of a new country (more enjoyable due to global travel restrictions)
  • Meet leading academics within Caribbean Studies and have questions answered by passionate subject matter experts
  • Engage in high-level debates and refine your ideas on a given topic 
  • Adding to your CV, to help with future job searches, scholarship, and grad school applications

Please reach out to Kevin Edmonds if you have any questions or concerns: