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The UNC Latina/o Studies Program

Annual Graduate & Undergraduate Symposium

“Coastal Voices”


“Like the movement of the ocean she’s walking on, coming from one continent/ continuum, touching another, and then receding (‘reading’) from the island(s) into the perhaps creative chaos of the(ir) future” (Brathwaite ConVERSations 34).


Water is a force of process, evolution, erosion, and recomposition. Roughly 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water; as such, water has no doubt had expansive influences on the development of national identities. Edward Kamau Brathwaite’s critical poetic project The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy establishes his concept of “tidalectics” which excavates these historic aquatic identity formations along African coastlines and the Caribbean. Brathwaite’s tidalectics focuses on alter/native epistemologies grounded in oceanic worldviews, national language, creative productions, and culture that disrupt teleology and fixity. In 2017, Stephanie Hessler curated an exhibition inspired by Braithwaite’s work: “If dialectics is the way that ‘Western philosophy has assumed people’s lives should be,’ [2] then Tidalectics involves a range of different readings and interpretations—for water is a transitory element, and a ‘being dedicated to water is a being in flux.’[3].” Of Brathwaite’s work, DeLoughery also writes “It is by insisting on the tidalectics between land and sea and remapping the Caribbean and the Pacific alongside each other that particular discourses of diaspora, indigeneity, and sovereignty can be examined in ways that challenge and complement each other, foregrounding the need for simultaneous attention to maritime routes and roots” (2007, p. 6). Motivated by this ethos, we call for papers centering coastal voices and transgressive arts. 


We invite submissions that consider the dynamic relationships between humans and water sources on cultural identity and productions. In so doing, we hope to center broadly defined coastally emplaced Latinx authors and artists whose work is from or about aquatic fronteras, including but not limited to the Caribbean and the Philippines. We invite works that subvert, or otherwise think beyond colonial claims to land and imperially-imposed borders. Additionally, we invite applicants to consider water as the veritable umbilical thread uniting “mainlands” and diasporas; water being the vehicle, byway, or threshold that a majority of immigrants or forcibly removed subjects travel. We ask: what can we reveal through considering water to be an active witness to globalization projects? 


Water is a vital life force. We hope to provide space to explore how the presence or absence of water impacts national, local, and individual identities. “Clean” water in particular is a precious and finite resource that many communities do not have access to; we invite submissions that consider: how does life and survival occur in the absence of water? 


We invite submissions that stretch the definitions of “coast” as both the region bordering water and the verb meaning to “move easily without power.” We hope to include forms of migration or resistance that take the figurative shape of water. How is water a naturally transgressive medium? What metaphors can we draw from its fluid, productive and destructive forms? 



  • Socio-hydrological relationships 
  • Broadly defined coasts as any location along a water front or the metaphor of “[moving] easily without water.” 
  • Geopolitics and postcolonial perspectives
  • Transmigration 
  • Caribbean
  • Western Pacific Ocean
  • Other coastal productions including liminal waterways (e.g. swamplands, rivers, creeks) that create what Hey-Colón describes as “third-space[s] of belonging” (184). 
  • Epidemiology
  • Survivability 
  • Ecocritical and environmentalist perspectives 
  • How paternalistic ties to the soil are challenged and enriched by relationships to the feminized water through rhetorics of fertility and fecundity 
  • Social activist movements 
  • Displacement and Diaspora 


Please email 250-word abstract to Meleena Gil ( and Dr. María DeGuzmán ( by Wednesday, October 19th at 5pm. 


Undergraduate Panel Date: November 8th 

Graduate Panel Date: November 9th 

Keynote Address: November 10th 

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