Abyssal Geographies 

Today, we are held to live in the Anthropocene, bringing to an end binary imaginaries, such as the separation between Human and Nature, and with them Western modernist assumptions of progress, linear casuality and human exceptionalism. Much Western critical theory, from new or vital materalism to post- and more-than-human thinking, unsurprisingly reflects this internal crisis of faith in Eurocentric or Enlightenment modernity and modern reasoning. 

At the same time, a radically different critique of modernity has also gained prominence in recent years, emerging from critical Black studies, which instead places the Caribbean at the epicentre of the development of a new mode of critical thought. 

In attempting to grasp what it is about Caribbean thought and practice that has enabled a distinctively new, alternative non-Eurocentric imaginary, the ‘Abyssal Geographies’ project is concerned with  what we call ‘abyssal thought’. 

This has two key aspects. 

The first is that abyssal thought is not grounded in abstract philosophical critique but works through the history of the Caribbean as a resource to be drawn upon. Aspects of Caribbean life, of resistance and survival, from marronage to carnival, calyspo and creolisation, have become generalisable as the abyssal paradigm gathers momentum, challenging the foundations and central tenets of dominant Eurocentric modes of contemporary critical thought. 

The second key aspect is that, unlike many other influential approaches, abyssal work engages the legacies of modernity and coloniality by explicitly seeking to escape the binds of ontology; suspending and negating the modern project of the human and the world. Thus, Abyssal Geographies draws out the novelty and rise of abyssal thought; how it seeks to refuse rather than to try and remake, save or salvage ontological world-making.

As the ‘Abyssal Geographies’ project develops, we will be expanding the ‘Anthropocene Islands’ project, including new workshops, reading groups, study groups and sessions at conferences.

If you are interested in being involved please contact us

Jonathan.Pugh@ncl.ac.uk and D.Chandler@westminster.ac.uk 

Some of our initial thinking can be found below. 

Interstitial and Abyssal Geographies 

Relational or Abyssal