Principal Investigator @ Representing Gender-Based Violence: Literature, Performance and Activism in the Anglophone Caribbean
Dr Lucy Evans is Associate Professor in Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leicester, UK. Her research specialism is in contemporary Caribbean literature. Her current research focuses on crime fiction and representations of crime in the Anglophone Caribbean, and on gender-based violence, arts activism, and Caribbean literary cultures. She is currently Principal Investigator of the collaborative research project, Representing Gender-Based Violence: Literature, Performance and Activism in the Anglophone Caribbean, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. Dr Evans has published widely on contemporary Caribbean literature; this includes a number of journal articles and book chapters as well as her monograph, Communities in Contemporary Anglophone Caribbean Short Stories (Liverpool University Press 2014); and a co-edited collection, Caribbean Short Stories: Critical Perspectives (Peepal Tree Press, 2011). She has also co-edited four special issues of peer reviewed academic journals, including ‘Crime, Gender and Sexuality in the Anglophone Caribbean’, Caribbean Journal of Criminology, 4:1 (2019) and ‘Representing Crime, Violence and Jamaica’, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 22:1 (2020). With Shivanee Ramlochan, she is currently co-editing Unstitching Silence: Fiction and Poetry by Caribbean Writers on Gender-Based Violence, to be published by Peekash Press in 2023.
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Here are the stories underneath:” Representing Gender-Based Violence in Contemporary Jamaican Poetry
Presented by the WHO as a global public health crisis, gender-based violence (GBV) is particularly pervasive in Anglophone Caribbean countries. In this paper we make the case that literary writing – and poetry specifically – can offer an important contribution to ongoing conversations around GBV and its continuing prevalence in the region. In the past two decades over fifty volumes of poetry have been published by Caribbean poets that address GBV. This corpus of poetry registers recent critical shifts in how GBV is conceptualised, reflecting both broadened definitions of GBV and a focus on the intersecting power structures within which it occurs. Kei Miller’s In Nearby Bushes (2019) and Lorna Goodison’s Mother Muse (2021) portray real scenarios of sexual violence and femicide in Jamaica. Miller’s collection engages with a 2018 article in the Jamaica Star about the disappearance and death of a young woman, and Goodison’s collection explores the murder of musician Anita Mahfood in 1965, presenting her story from multiple angles. We explore how Miller’s and Goodison’s poetry speaks to press reportage on GBV, challenging the gender normative framing of media discourse on this topic. We consider how while news reports often sensationalise stories of GBV, poetry has the capacity to humanise, and redistribute agency to, victims and survivors of GBV. Miller’s and Goodison’s poems illustrate the power of imaginative writing to add depth and texture to narratives of GBV, and expose the ‘stories underneath’ (Miller, 2019). We argue that contemporary poetry can play a vital role in education around GBV.