Unmapping the Caribbean: Sanctuary and Sound

What would a map of sanctuary look like? This digital cartography project “Unmapping the Caribbean: Sanctuary and Sound” employs Esri Story Maps to examine fugitivity in the region through the lenses of marronage and indigeneity, depicting five geographies: New York City, Suriname, Hispaniola, Cuba, and Jamaica. This collaboration grew out of a set of conversations alongside the NYU Sanctuary coalition’s #SanctuarySyllabus published online by Public Books in 2017 in response to discriminatory U.S. immigration policies targeting undocumented migrants and others deemed “outsiders.” Anchoring the question of sanctuary and being undocumented in the Caribbean, I tasked my students with creating digital countermaps of five Caribbean spaces that consider how sound orients the human body in space. What is the visibility of Caribbean populations among the undocumented in the United States and how does race play a role in the optics of this global debate? Here, I consider the pedagogical benefits of educating through collaborative digital assignments of mapmaking and soundtrack making. Stitching the five maps together, I asked students to consider the precarity of refuge and what it means to be a refugee in the context of the Caribbean. “Unmapping the Caribbean” is an ongoing project, but the latest iteration of the map was debuted at the Caribbean Digital V conference at University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Tackling the conceptual grounds of how maps can be tools of capitalist extraction maps, we oriented maps as objects that allow for a visualization of the contestation over claims to land and race across the archipelago and diaspora to re-open the dialogue between creolization and indigenization, amplified by the digital. This project has also been included as part of a digital flash mob on Mina Loy: Navigating the Avante-Garde.