I recently got back from NYC and among many things had the opportunity to have a 2 day working meeting with these amazing women. It's on!!!!!
VI Studies Collective (VISCO) Founding Statement
St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, the group of islands currently known as the United States Virgin Islands (formerly the Danish West Indies) are crucial spaces for thinking through questions of sovereignty, personhood, and belonging. We are a group of academics, artists, and activists who are committed to centering the Virgin Islands as a site of inquiry and theorization beyond a notion of utopia or space that is not meaningfully occupied. As founders of VI Studies, we situate this field as a multidisciplinary framework through which we—and others—are able to study and understand the Virgin Islands. Our conceptualization of the U.S. Virgin Islands allows for various connectivities with Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands.
We are committed to centering the Virgin Islands as the intellectual, cultural and political center of our inquiry. We engage with other sites, including Denmark, the United States, and the wider Caribbean and African Diaspora secondarily but vitally. Given the radical intersectional politics that drive our work, VISCO aims to be attentive to the processes by which race, gender, class, sexuality, age, ability, and nationality frame the U.S. Virgin Islands and the power dynamics therein. We are committed to examining via intellectual inquiry, we are committed to creation via artistic practice, and we are committed to radical pedagogical interventions.
The founding of VI Studies began in 2017 as a series of conversations between LaVaughn Belle, Tami Navarro, Hadiya Sewer, and Tiphanie Yanique. We, the VI Studies Collective (VISCO), are centrally concerned about the erasure of the Virgin Islands from larger discourses and the lack of resources to attend to our community’s needs, most notably the silences surrounding the territory's continuous colonial subjection, the lack of cultural institutions to preserve Virgin Islands history, and the ecological precarity demonstrated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. From this set of discussions grew the formalized working group, VI Studies. As a group of Afro-Caribbean women, we are committed to a practice of collaborative production and inclusion. We explicitly engage in collective knowledge production and seek out partnerships at all levels in ways that are beneficial to all parties, including citational practices and resource sharing. We have undertaken the project of carving out this area of inquiry in order to bring together the decades of research that has already been undertaken by scholars and cultural workers, both within institutions and independently.