Statement on the cancellation of Society for Caribbean Studies Annual Conference, 1-3 July 2020

I hope that you are all keeping well and safe. As promised in our earlier statement, this statement is to confirm the committee’s decision to cancel the 2020 Society for Caribbean Studies (SCS) annual conference.

I know this will come as a disappointment. 2020 would have been our 44th annual conference, and the conference has become a well-established and highly enjoyable part of many people’s academic year. I for one will certainly miss seeing old friends, making new friends, and renewing my understanding of the region in this warm and supportive environment. However, I expect our decision will not be a surprise, now that it is clearer how big and long-lasting this global pandemic is turning out to be. I believe we will get through it, though our thoughts are with all those who are suffering at this time. However, for this year it is clear that many people will not be able to find the resources to attend, even if the lockdown is over by July.

Subject to the agreement of members, we would like to roll the current conference arrangements over to next year, July 2021. Those who have submitted abstracts this year and had them accepted will not be asked to resubmit for 2021 (unless they wish to change their abstract), but will be asked later this year to confirm their intention to attend next year’s conference. Those who were offered a bursary (conference fee waiver) for the 2020 conference will be eligible to receive their bursary in 2021, provided they confirm their intention to attend. We will also send out our usual call for papers later this year. The call will be for those who did not submit abstracts in 2020 but wish to be considered for inclusion in the programme in 2021 and for any presenters accepted in 2020 who would like to submit a new abstract for the conference in 2021. All conference attendees will be asked to register in May or June 2021, as normal. Given that we have not visited Butetown Community Centre nor Cardiff before, and that we were so warmly welcomed when we visited the centre in January, the current committee are keen to keep the conference venue the same next year. However, given that there will be no formal AGM this year, I will circulate a separate email for current members, asking for comments about venue, dates, continuing membership of SCS, and committee roles.

I hope you will be as happy as I am to note that our Bridget Jones awardee, Amilcar Sanatan, has agreed to attend and present in 2021. Our keynote speaker in 2021 is scheduled to be Dr Edil Sepulveda – details of his impressive CV are here: As an important climate scientist and advocate for Puerto Rican self-support and resilience, Edil has crucial insights to share on climate change and sustainability, issues that are now and will continue to be increasingly important for the region. Eccles Centre have generously agreed to pay the costs of his attendance in 2021.

In addition, I am very excited to tell you that Dr Sepulveda has agreed to also give a short recorded lecture this year, and to participate in a live online discussion on 2nd July 2020. The event will be free to attend, and we hope that as many of you as possible will participate in the discussion. More details will follow, but for the moment please save the date!

Although we sadly cannot meet as normal in this strange year, 2020, the committee is very much looking forward to seeing you at the online event and at our conference in 2021.