In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Caribbean Philosophical Association

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Edited Volumes and Special Issues

Latin American Studies The Caribbean Philosophical Association
Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Lewis Gordon
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0024


The Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA) is an organization of scholars and lay-intellectuals dedicated to the study and generation of ideas with emphasis on encouraging South–South dialogue. The CPA was founded on 14 June 2002 at the Center for Caribbean Thought at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica, after a major conference dedicated to the work of Jamaican novelist, literary critic, and theorist Sylvia Wynter. This event was one of a series of exchanges and collaborations among a group of Caribbean scholars teaching at the University of the West Indies and intellectuals of the Caribbean diaspora teaching in universities in the United States. The CPA has an executive board and secretaries who cover different areas of scholarship, regions of the Caribbean, and exchanges with other regions. Although the focus is on engaging philosophy and critical thought that emerges in the Caribbean, membership is not limited exclusively to scholars with degrees in philosophy, and any region and historic moment can be subject of the exchange of ideas. In similar kind, anyone with an interest in engaging ideas and playing a role in the development of new ideas can become a member. The principal goal of the CPA is to “shift the geography of reason,” by which it means approaching the Caribbean and the “global south” in general as zones of sustainable practices, sources, and producers of knowledge. This includes South–South exchanges, including the South in the North, analyses and critiques of multiple expressions of the legacy of slavery and global coloniality, and critical and creative engagements with mainstream and marginalized theories and forms of knowledge. Finally, though not exhaustively, the CPA is also dedicated to assisting with the development of institutions that will preserve thought in the Caribbean and cultivate new ideas. The following is a selection of texts that either established the case of a need for an organization such as the CPA, emerged in or benefitted from discussions among members of the CPA and in CPA meetings, or exemplified important sources for themes that are central to the CPA.

General Overviews

The CPA has particular strengths on Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone Caribbean philosophy, more or less in that order, as this bibliography itself attests. Major areas of emphasis are Afro-Caribbean and Africana philosophy; see Henry 2000 and Gordon 2008. The authors are both founding members of the association, and Gordon was voted as its first president. While Henry 2000 offers a typology to understand the work of various important and influential Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean thinkers, Gordon 2008 provides an overview of philosophers from Africa and its diasporas in the Caribbean and the United States. Sharpley-Whiting 2002 focuses on the contributions of women intellectuals in the “négritude” movement and contains primary sources in translation. Torres-Saillant 2006 departs from the focus on the African diaspora per se and focuses on constructions of and responses to demeaning views of the Caribbean. It also tackles questions about the practice of theory and leadership in colonial contexts. Lewis 1983 is a classic in the field and traces the main political ideologies in the region from 1492 to 1900. Rojas Osorio 1997 focuses on the positivism and utilitarianism that was predominant in the 19th and parts of the 20th century in the Hispanic Caribbean. He focuses on territories that include parts of Central America and specific authors from those regions. One of the challenges of the CPA is to establish more connections with the Dutch- and Papiamento-speaking Caribbean. It currently has linkages with the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery (NiNsee) and its legacy in the Netherlands and is in the process of working on translations that will facilitate the introduction of ideas from the Dutch- and Papiamento-speaking Caribbean to discussions and debates in the association.

  • Gordon, Lewis. An Introduction to Africana Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    Introduces Africana philosophy by interrogating the meaning of philosophy and its exploration in the African diasporic context. Along with extensive analysis of figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Franz Fanon, and Anna Julia Cooper, it provides subtle overviews of Afro-Caribbean philosophy, African philosophy, African American philosophy, and influential Africana philosophical schools of thought in the United States and Britain.

  • Henry, Paget. Caliban’s Reason: Introducing Afro-Caribbean Philosophy. New York: Routledge, 2000.

    Through an act of historical recovery and theoretical sophistication, this book identifies and brings to light the often hidden tradition of Afro-Caribbean philosophy. This introduction through careful consideration of Afro-Caribbean intellectual responses to colonialism locates Afro-Caribbean philosophy in literary criticism, psychoanalysis, history, poetry, and other endeavors that challenged the presuppositions of colonialism and its theoretical and material apparatuses.

  • Lewis, Gordon K. Main Currents in Caribbean Thought: The Historical Evolution of Caribbean Society in Its Ideological Aspects, 14921900. Johns Hopkins Studies in Atlantic History and Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.

    Substantial overview of dominant political ideologies in the Caribbean. Focuses on ideas of discovery and conquest as well as on critical responses to them, proslavery and antislavery ideologies, and the growth of nationalism in the region.

  • Rojas Osorio, Carlos. Filosofía moderna en el Caribe hispano. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1997.

    Overview of positivism and utilitarianism in the continental and insular Caribbean in the 19th and part of the 20th centuries. Useful introduction to myriad of thinkers, their major works, and contributions in ethics, aesthetics, politics, and epistemology, among other areas.

  • Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. Negritude Women. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

    Discusses the contributions of women to the negritude movement. Intervening in the movement’s predominantly masculine genealogy, it includes in-depth discussions of works by Lascacade, the Nardal sisters, and Roussy-Césaire. A welcomed deepening of the intellectual history of the negritude movement, this book is valuable for scholars who study gender, social movements, literature, and intellectual traditions in the African diaspora.

  • Torres-Saillant, Silvio. An Intellectual History of the Caribbean. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

    DOI: 10.1057/9781403983367

    This text examines writings by both Caribbean scholars and non-Caribbean writers that have influenced its culture and cultural production. A prominent theme is the challenge created by the perceived epistemic status of the Caribbean, which implies the lack of legitimacy to produce knowledge about itself and others. Investigates the art, literature, and thought produced in Caribbean regions at the same time that it problematizes Western conceptual frameworks.

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