Grad Students at the CPA Summer School

During the month of September, the magazine will feature a series of stories about Comp Lit graduate students’ summer research activities. See the first article below and check back for more stories throughout the month.

By: Annabel We

Early this summer, Comp Lit graduate students Jeong Eun Annabel We, Rafael Vizcaíno, and Bernabe Mendoza attended Caribbean Philosophical Association summer school. CPA hosted its inaugural summer school at University of Connecticut from May 31st to June 6th, 2015. Organized by Jane Gordon, the summer school invited senior scholars from different institutions who have won the CPA Frantz Fanon prize for their books in the past (this year’s participants were Oscar Guardiola, Paget Henry, and Drucilla Cornell). Annabel found the CPA a rewarding experience: “the CPA offered a rare, intimate setting.” Bernie agreed, saying, “the Caribbean Philosophical Association Summer School is a great and much needed risk-taking enterprise aiming, as it does, to bring together a diverse group of scholars interested in creating new avenues of knowledge outside the hegemonic, institutionalized ones. I found the discussions both in and out of the classroom intellectually stimulating and inspirational. Best of all, I found my outside readers for my dissertation–amazing scholars of color who are not in any way your conventional, clichéd academics, and who support and are wholly enthusiastic about my project. I recommend the summer school for students whose work thinks greatly outside the proverbial (philosophical) box.”

Each day of the summer school began with a seminar on a senior scholar’s pre-assigned book in the morning, followed by a lecture by the same scholar, and ended with a social activity. There were many lunches and dinners at which student participants could discuss the seminar material and their own research interests with each other and with senior scholars, as well as with other participating junior faculty members.

The summer school focused on Africana philosophy, Amerindian philosophy in the neoliberal world, challenges within Caribbean philosophy, and uBuntu, but sparked many other relevant discussions along the way. Rafael, for instance, “principally attended the CPA summer school because I wanted to establish intellectual and professional connections with some of the leading exponents of the ‘decolonial turn’ in philosophy, political, and critical theory. [Paget Henry’s] entire project is to put Africana philosophy on the table of philosophical discussion, a long and arduous project he has successfully endeavored for decades. I myself am an admirer of Henry’s critique of Jurgen Habermas (that Habermas doesn’t understand the importance of myths as knowledge-constitutive) and I would like to write a paper in the future about myth, Africana philosophy and Enrique Dussel’s philosophy of liberation. Overall, I am now more prepared to continue my own graduate scholarship at the intersection of Latin American/Caribbean and German critical social and political thought.” Annabel added, “I find that I walked away from the summer school with much more than I had initially expected. I had come to the summer school hoping to understand Caribbean philosophical discussions better, but I had come away with not (only) an area-based understanding of my research questions but clarifications and new developments of topics such as montage/mobilization, confession, stasis, and futurity, and most important, an academic community in which I would like to continue to take part.”