This year was a Windrush year. It marked the seventieth anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, with its 492 Caribbean passengers, at Tilbury Docks in Essex. Also in 2018, June 22 was designated “Windrush Day,” to commemorate the contributions of the Windrush generation (1948-71) to British society and culture. Mostly, however, 2018 was the year of the Windrush scandal, wherein changes in immigration laws led to members of the Windrush generation being detained, denied access to healthcare and other benefits, and in some cases deported. In the discussion section of our final issue of 2018, we publish diverse perspectives on the precarious lives of the Windrush generation.
Opening the section, H. Adlai Murdoch offers a thorough and persuasive connective chronology—from the 1948 British Nationality Act and the arrival of the Empire Windrush that year, through Enoch Powell’s famous “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968, followed later by the cultural studies moment of Stuart Hall—that contextualizes what it meant to be “British” and “black” in postwar England. His essay is a broad view the Windrush generation, while the two essays that follow focus more on individual experiences of this group of migrants. Ronald Cummings takes a closer look at the means of communication between migrants and home, as well as between migrants in their new “home.” In particular, he examines the import of the letters of Andrew Salkey and those represented in his novel Escape to an Autumn Pavement. Janice Cheddie offers a more personal epistolary piece, with letters to her younger self parsing the consequences of decisions made at different stages of Britain’s changing immigration policies. Together the essays probe the roots and results of Caribbean diaspora in Britain.
The questions of how to be in Caribbean diaspora continue in our interviews section, where we publish interviews with two fascinating multitalented writers. Joshua Deckman speaks with Josefina Báez about her work, questions of home, and the creative and created space she terms el ni’e. And Chaya Bhuvaneswar interviews Rajiv Mohabir about language, translation, and his Guyanese poetics.
In this issue of sx salon we also publish new poetry by Ricia Anne Chansky, Faizal Deen, and Sean Des Vignes, as well as Jeffrey Landon Allen and Charly Verstraet’s translation of work by Patrick Chamoiseau. And our reviews section offers reflections on four new Caribbean books: Katherine A. Zien’s Sovereign Acts: Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone, reviewed by Jennifer Brittan; Roshini Kempadoo’s Creole in the Archive: Imagery, Presence, and the Location of the Caribbean Figure, reviewed by Sebastian Charles Galbo; Marta Caminero-Santangelo’s Documenting the Undocumented: Latina/o Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper, reviewed by Francisco E. Robles; and Scott Henkel’s Direct Democracy: Collective Power, the Swarm, and the Literatures of the Americas, reviewed by Matthew Scully.
We hope you find this issue as interesting and enlightening as we do.
Kelly Baker Josephs
Table of Contents
Sovereignty and Stagecraft in Panama and the Canal Zone—Jennifer Brittan
Katherine A. Zien, Sovereign Acts: Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2017)
(Re)Claiming, Re(photographing) the Caribbean Figure—Sebastian Charles Galbo
Roshini Kempadoo, Creole in the Archive: Imagery, Presence, and the Location of the Caribbean Figure (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016)
Illuminating Narratives of and by the Undocumented—Francisco E. Robles
Marta Caminero-Santangelo, Documenting the Undocumented: Latina/o Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2016)
The Power of the People—Matthew Scully
Scott Henkel, Direct Democracy: Collective Power, the Swarm, and the Literatures of the Americas (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2017)