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The devastating impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria across the Caribbean (especially in Barbuda, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St Martin/St Maarten, and parts of the British and US Virgin Islands) are haunting harbingers of a world of climate disaster, halting recovery, and impossible futures. Being at the leading edge of the global capitalist exploitation of people and other living and non-living beings in a world-spanning system of vast inequity and severe injustice, Caribbean thinkers, writers, poets, philosophers, activists, and artists have long lived with, dwelt upon, and offered answers to the problem of being human after Man, as Sylvia Wynter puts it. This reflection on island futuring and defuturing offers a critical analysis of Caribbean “disaster recovery” and “climate adaptation” based on an understanding of the disjuncture between three uneven spatio-temporal realities: (1) the decelerating “islanding effects” of debt, foreign aid, and austerity; (2) the accelerating mobilities of the “offshore” and extended operational landscapes of “planetary urbanization”; and (3) the durational im/mobilities of Amerindian survival, Maroon escape, and Black/Indigenous cultural endurance of alternative ontologies.
Here, we are fortunate to be able to publish responses from the three scholars who acted as respondents during the AAG session – Sharlene Mollett, Beverley Mullings, and Marion Werner – along with a reply from the author.
Thank you to all involved for this wide-ranging discussion of climate change, the Caribbean, colonial capitalism, mobilities, the politics of knowledge production, and more.