Frontier of Debt in the Caribbean and Afro-America

General Programming

  • Barnard Research on Women
  • Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
  • Institute of Latin American Studies
  • Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Center for the Study of Social Difference
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated

CSSD working group Unpayable Debt: Capital, Violence, and the New Global Economy presents Frontier of Debt in the Caribbean and Afro-America.

Frontiers of Debt in the Caribbean and Afro-America brings together scholars, journalists, activists, and artists from across these two regions in order to interrogate their contemporary re-emergence as sites of new forms of capital extraction and opposition to debt regimes. The two-day event is comprised of an art exhibit and a conference. The art exhibit, entitled Puerto Rico Under Water: Five Artist Perspectives on Debt will be housed in the Gallery at the Columbia University Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (420 Hamilton Hall) and will open with a reception at 5pm on April 19. The conference itself will take place between 10am and 5:30pm on April 20 at the Columbia University Law School (Jerome Green Building, Room 102).

The conference will consist of three panels, in addition to opening remarks by the organizers and a keynote address by Sir Hilary Beckles. The first panel is organized around the theme of “Indebted Bodies” and addresses questions of race, class, gender, and other forms of hierarchical difference, with a general focus on how different kinds of debt are folded into relations of intimacy, kinship, and everyday interactions. The afternoon panels include “Debts’ Toxins,” which is focused on the relationship of indebtedness and the environment, and “Beyond Life and Debt: Education at the Crossroads,” which examines the emergence of debates and mobilizations around education, information, and communication in the context of debt crisis.


April 19 - Gallery at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, 420 Hamilton Hall
5pm: Conference Reception and Opening of Puerto Rico Under Water: Five Artist Perspectives on Debt
Works by: Adal Maldonado, Huáscar Robles, Sarabel Santos, Víctor Vázquez

April 20 - Columbia Law School, Jerome Green Building, Room 102A

10am: Opening Remarks
Sarah Muir (CUNY)
Frances Negrón-Muntaner (Columbia University)

10:30am-12pm: Keynote
Sir Hilary Beckles (University of the West Indies)

12-1:30pm: Indebted Bodies
Levi Gahman (University of the West Indies)
Gabrielle Thongs (University of the West Indies)
Westenley Alcenat (Fordham University)
Tami Navarro (Barnard College)
Moderator: Matan Cohen (Columbia University)

1:30-2:30pm: Break

2:30-4pm: Debts’ Toxins
David Schalliol (St. Olaf College)
Hilda Lloréns (University of Rhode Island)
Greg Guannel (University of the Virgin Islands)
Sarabel Santos (independent artist)
Moderator: Sarah Muir (CUNY)

4-5:30pm: Beyond Life and Debt: Education at the Crossroads
Jason Wozniak (San José University)
Joel Cintrón Arbasetti (Centro de Periodismo Investigativo)
Ed Morales (independent journalist and lecturer)
Kristen Buras (Georgia State University)
Moderator: Rima Brusi-Gil de la Madrid (Lehman College)