Conjunctural Insurrections – “Persistent Coloniality, Profane Space, Purported Impact”

In Trinidad and Tobago, on June 27, three Afro-Caribbean/Black men – Noel Diamond, Israel Clinton, and Joel Jacobs – were shot and killed, without cause, by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Their hands were in the air. The men were from the community of Morvant, which has been stigmatized as a crime “hot spot” and “ghetto”, that is, a “profane space”. Their deaths provoked a series of flashpoint protests, which subsequently led to the murder of Ornella Greaves. Witnesses report that Ornella, a pregnant mother of four who was demonstrating against police brutality in Beetham Gardens, another “ghetto”, was shot by law enforcement. One cannot help but be reminded of the words of guerilla-intellectual Frantz Fanon, who, in The Wretched of the Earth, warned us of “sickening mimicry”, arguing that the postcolonial bourgeoisie:

… does not establish a reassuring state for the citizen, but one which is troubling … [The state] imposes itself in a spectacular manner, flaunts its authority, harasses, making it clear to its citizens they are in constant danger.

In Trinidad, like so many other Caribbean places maimed and (dis)ordered by imperial aggression and enduring authoritarianism, “ghetto” community members and Black Lives Matter organizers continue to mobilize and assert that their lives have meaning. Readers can bear witness to the persistent coloniality of the Westminster-modelled liberal state – and political agency of Caribbean people – in the collage above. Further evidence illustrating how race and class are spatialised, as well as how dehumanization is resisted, creatively, “from below.”

Here, for academics, a vital question about the role of research arises. Namely, what is “impact”?

To sit with this query earnestly, in light of the ongoing planetary injustices at hand, will indeed reveal there is neither time for liberal bystanding, nor space for self-centric metric fetishes. At this juncture, to recuse oneself from collective action is to forsake Others. Because in light of the pervasive and explicit racist, classist, and gender-based repression that continues to plague the world and our respective institutions in the UK and Trinidad and Tobago, the only measure of “impact” that matters regarding either a research agenda, academic paper, or university curricula is the degree to which it equally includes – and is cautiously put in the service of – social movements and communities in struggle (on their terms). This must be the work of our teaching and research – irrespective of career aspirations – and remains the challenge of both our generation and geographies.


All images in the collage, aside from snapshots of the newspaper covers, should be credited to Trinidad Express photographer, Jermaine Cruickshank, whose original article can be found here.


By Johannah-Rae Reyes, Black Lives Matter (Trinidad and Tobago), WOMANTRA and Levi Gahman, Department of Geography, University of Liverpool

For more on Antipode’s “Conjunctural Insurrections” series – an experiment to amplify voices often unheard and invisibilised in politics, daily life, and academic discourse – see