Digitally Mapping Kamau Brathwaite’s Caribbean Cosmology

  1. 1. Conor Tomás Reed

    Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY Graduate Center)

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As a project in Kelly Baker Josephs’ Spring 2014 “Digital Caribbean” seminar at the CUNY Graduate Center, I began to create a public Google Map of Kamau Braithwaite’s 1996 essay “Note(s) on Caribbean Cosmology”: ( This map gathers examples from around the Digital Caribbean diaspora of the twelve inter-related parts of Braithwaite’s essay―nommo, ananse, santería / vodoun / pocoma nia, myal / obeah, divination, carnival, jouvert, gere, asafo, rites of passage, atumpan, and nam―with textual quotations. As this map is an ongoing interactive project, I aim to crowd-source further “cosmology location” input from diverse communities that live around the world, especially those self-identified as Caribbean. Building on Brathwaite’s ideas alongside other writers like Antonio Benitez-Rojo and Stuart Hall, I chart how the Caribbean’s physical space interweaves diverse cultures, as it pivotally influences cultures outside of its immediate geography. This project presents different forms of these elements as circulated in the digital realm―prose, poetry, video, music, photography, visual art, and dance. I see this project as faithful to Brathwaite’s own kind of multi-media cultural-historical production. The essay “Note(s) on Caribbean Cosmology” itself could be read as a kind of unique computer code, or assemblage of curious directions. If we take Brathwaite’s essay’s careful attention to historical elisions seriously, we may find a dearth of online examples from certain parts of the cosmology, and certain positions in the Caribbean. Brathwaite explicitly identifies which parts of the cosmology have been bastardized, secreted away, or altered to fit new conditions. From Brathwaite’s description of these cosmological elements, they seem to simultaneously co-exist, as well as historically build on one another. This project’s mapping platform can show the trans-temporal and spatial design of his essay, while also visualizing what parts of these histories are still omitted online.

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Conference Info

In review

Caribbean Digital - 2014

Hosted at Barnard College, Columbia University

New York, New York, United States

Dec. 4, 2014 - Dec. 5, 2014

31 works by 38 authors indexed

Series: Caribbean Digital (1)

Organizers: Caribbean Digital

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None