The transformation of the academy by the digital revolution presents challenges to customary ways of learning, teaching, conducting research, and presenting findings. It also offers great opportunities in each of these areas. New media enable oration, graphics, objects, and even embodied performance to supplement existing forms of scholarly production as well as to constitute entirely original platforms. Textual artifacts have been rendered literally and figuratively three-dimensional; opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration have expanded exponentially; information has been made more accessible and research made more efficient on multiple levels. Scholars are called upon, with some urgency, to adapt their research and pedagogical methods to an academic climate deluged by a superabundance of information and analysis. This has created opportunities for open-ended and multiform engagements, interactive and continually updating archives and other databases, cartographic applications that enrich places with historical information, and online dialogues with peers and the public.
The need for such engagements is especially immediate among the people of the Caribbean and its diasporas. Information technology has become an increasingly significant part of the way that people frame pressing social problems and political aspirations. Moreover, the Internet is analogous in important ways to the Caribbean itself as dynamic and fluid cultural space: it is generated from disparate places and by disparate peoples; it challenges fundamentally the geographical and physical barriers that disrupt or disallow connection; and it places others and elsewheres in relentless relation. Yet while we celebrate these opportunities for connectedness, we also must make certain that the digital realm undermine and confront rather than re-inscribe forms of silencing and exclusion in the Caribbean.
Following on our 2014, 2015, and 2016 events, the panel presentations and discussions that comprise this iteration of “The Caribbean Digital” further reflects on the challenges and opportunities presented by the media technologies that evermore intensely reconfigure the social and geo-political contours of the Caribbean and its diasporas. Presenters consider, specifically, the affordances and limitations of the digital with respect to their particular methodologies, disciplines, and passions.
We would like to thank the Office of the Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for support in making this event possible.