Presenter: Leniqueca Welcome, PhD Candidate, Anthropology
Discussant: John L. Jackson Jr., Dean, Annenberg School for Communication
With the incorporation of Trinidad and Tobago into the transnational drug and ammunitions trade as a major transshipment point; the rise of the informal drug economy locally in the 1980s; the neoliberal economic constriction of the welfare state; and the reformulation and expansion of local gang networks in the late 90s supported by government corruption, Trinidad and Tobago has seen an exponential increase in gun-related murders since 2000. Marked as a threat to economic and physical security which the government cannot manage, this rising murder rate has caused major national anxiety leading to hyper-militarized policing in urban communities classed as low-income and racialized as Black. Since 2016, Leniqueca Welcome has conducted visual ethnography in East Port of Spain, Trinidad, an area heavily criminalized in the media and ostracized in the national community for its purported high rates of gang violence. This talk centers on four digital collages produced from Leniqueca Welcome’s fieldwork that each feature fabulated scenes that speak to the constant oscillation between captivity and flight; surveillance and opacity; and rupture and repair that define the landscape of Black life in East Port of Spain. She will use these works as an entry point for a larger discussion of the ethics of representing violence at its multiple scales and the potential of collage as a “response-able” visual method.