Recently, COSAS member Kaneesha Parsard, Assistant Professor of English, published an article titled “Criticism as Proposition” in the South Atlantic Quarterly.
Parsard’s newest essay, “Criticism as Proposition,” is animated by the question: What is possible when empire is uncertain about its authority? In the nineteenth-century British West Indies, emancipation saw peoples of African descent become wage laborers and set the terms of their work. The sugar industry then needed new, free—unbonded—labor for its continued existence. With the arrival of Indian and Chinese indentured labor, however, it became more difficult for the British imperial state and colonial governments to manage these new imbrications of race, gender, sexuality, capital, and labor.
Her essay centers on an 1871 correspondence between Governor Rawson of Barbados and the Windward Islands and the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the “increasing disposition of Creole women to form connection with Chinese and Indian immigrants.” As this correspondence reveals anxiety about the nature of the contact between these peoples, she offers proposition—riffing on its many legal, financial, sexual, and epistemological meanings—as a mode of speaking back and revisiting unsettled questions about freedom.