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  • Writer's pictureJenia Browne

Beginning my Senior Capstone!

I am in the last semester of my undergraduate degree! It's absolutely crazy. I'm genuinely in love with all of my classes for my last semester and I can't wait to see what the year brings. It's weird not knowing where you'll be in five months, but I'm optimistic! I'm so excited to be sharing my progress with you all again as I undergo my last independent project of my degree, my international affairs capstone. I am thankful for how much freedom I have in this project and look forward to developing it!

Antigua and Barbuda

In my last two projects, I really got to dive into mainly U.S. Black and African queer and/or lesbian feminisms, which I loved! I think that being able to focus regionally allowed me to gain a better understanding of how Black feminisms and Black studies vary across the diaspora. For this reason, I'm super excited to be centering the Caribbean region in my capstone research. As someone of Caribbean descent (shoutout to Antigua and St. Kitts!) I've never really gotten to do a lot of in-depth research on the modern (Anglophone) Caribbean. Through the class Revolution, Civil War, and Insurrection, I was able to do a semester-long case study on the Haitian Revolution and whether or not modern theories of conflict were applicable, which was a really cool way of mixing international affairs and Africana studies theory. I also got to learn more about the Latin Caribbean in Afro-Latin Studies. Despite these classes, I haven't been able to learn a lot about the Anglophone Caribbean.

I am really excited to learn more about my heritage through this project. In particular, I am excited to learn more about queerness in the Anglophone Caribbean. Growing up, I really couldn't conceptualize the intersection of my lesbian and Caribbean identities, and it led to a lot of confusion. As I've learned more about queer Caribbean people, legacies, and histories, I become more inspired in my academics, my professional goals, and my personal life. I think that understanding queer Caribbean praxis is really important for wider queer and trans movements as well as understanding concepts like transnationalism, abolition, and belonging/non-belonging.

After speaking with Professor Kris Manjapra, who is teaching my Global Caribbean class this semester, I realized there are a few different directions I could take. Queerness and fugitivity, queerness and citizenship, and queerness' presence in a broader, more theoretical sense are three avenues that came up. I think initially I was really interested in a more archival project that looked at the presence of queerness in the Caribbean, but I also know that this has constituted a lot of queer Caribbean studies previously. Our capstone requirements also require us to make an argument instead of having a discussion-based paper and I feel like this topic has been discussed at length. After reading "(Trans)Nationalisms, Marronage, and Queer Caribbean Subjectivities" by Ronald Cummings I think I've come to a general consensus. Looking at how Caribbean queer people and communities both create community outside of the 'nation' while also attempting to integrate into or expand the ideas of the nation is particularly interesting to me. Thinking about this, these questions came up:

  1. How do queer Caribbean communities contest and relate with national identity and citizenship?

  2. How do these communities create ‘queer nations’ outside of Caribbean statehood?

  3. How does the idea of the 'queer nation' challenge Caribbean national identities?

I'm really excited to explore these questions! It's a lot to answer in a 24-26 page paper but they are relatively intertwined.

I've also been reflecting a lot on the way I learn recently. Through doing more reading on my own, I've definitely realized that I have to process information verbally for it to really set in. I find a lot of joy in talking about what I read with other people. It feels like a blessing and a curse: learning in community feels amazing but what if I don't have anyone in the moment to talk with? I realize that I have an amazing community around me though. In general, I've been blessed with so many amazing mentors and guides throughout college, in both international affairs and Africana studies. In particular, Dr. Régine Jean-Charles, Dr. Layla Brown, Dr. AK Wright, and Asia Potts have all inspired me and supported me in ways that I could not ever thank them enough for. I will definitely continue to bounce ideas about this off of them about this project.

Overall, I am excited to be more challenged by what I'm reading and to continue expanding my knowledge. I love Black queer studies and I am also excited to delve more into queer theory like my last project. I'll keep this blog updated, as usual, and hope you enjoy hearing about my progress!

Talk soon,

Jenia <3

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