On Wednesday, the 9th of March, the University of St. Martin officially launched their online journal, entitled Commentaries, to a room—decorated with tall tables, fancy colored lights, and talk show style—full of invited guest, including Ministers Silveria Jacobs and Emil Lee, USM board members and staff, participants in the journal, speakers, USM students, academics, writers, cultural icons, among others.
The journal, as President of University of St. Martin Francio Guadeloupe said, is about “When a public sphere is created where the writings of scholars, activists, writers, public intellectuals, students and the general population/others, occupy the same space and is given the same importance, then, and only then, does a developmental university fulfill its role of contributing to the radical democratic project in the Caribbean, better known as the politics of decoloniality.” In the end, Guadeloupe said, “To comment is to be in common.”
Minister Jacobs was given the opportunity to speak, and she commended USM on the job well done on having such a journal, especially given the importance of such from an academic and cultural standpoint.
Genève Phillip, Dean of Academic Affairs, spoke next, as the keynote speaker. Phillip lamented the current situation of academics and their role in society and commented on the relevance of Commentaries in this day and age, about internalized oppression and post/colonialism, and finally, also about the current socio-economic situation within the region, as it relates to the concept of a journal at USM.
In her analysis offered on the journal, Phillip is quoted as saying: “I view Commentaries as a particularly apt and timely response to knowledge hoarders, to the arrogance that is inherent in academia and to the individuals and groups which use knowledge as a means of oppressing and marginalizing others. With its multimedia, multilingual and multidisciplinary trajectory, Commentaries compels us to reconsider the places, spaces and niches we have carved out for ourselves, which have given way to some of us becoming overly protective and territorial about academic boundaries. The portrayal of film, art, poetry and creative writing, represents a refreshing departure away from our obsession with material that is theoretically, empirically and methodologically sound. It is a manifestation of one’s freedom to think, act and express one’s self without having to validate one’s innermost thoughts with the thoughts of other academic gurus and stalwarts.”
Other speakers included Meagan Sylvester, a musicologist and member of the International Editorial Board for Commentaries who spoke about the importance of having such a journal and its potential contributions to the advancement of various types of dialogue on different levels. Then there was Lysanne Charles and Rhoda Arrindel who spoke with the hostess talk show style on their articles in the journal. Afterwards, Liliane Mulder, gave a synopsis of her article to the crowd in attendance. On behalf of the film students, Clara Reyes spoke about her experience in the class and her perspective on the importance of such a class to society, then a short clip was shown of the documentaries.
Subsequent to the speakers’ presentations, limited amounts of DVDs were distributed to the audience and Dr. Guadeloupe thanked the audience, the MC—DJ Sagan of Laser 101, and contributing members of the organizing committee.
Commentaries, Volume one, consists of two issues, namely: Issue 1, which commences with an introduction by Teresa Leslie and four academic papers. Three of the five writers are from St. Maarten—Language as a Weapon of Mind Destruction by Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, Nigger Are You Crazy / Neger ben je gek by Lysanne Charles–Arrindell, MSc., and Appreciating Callaloo Soup by Dr. Francio Guadeloupe and Erwin Wolthuis.
The other issue consists of four short documentary videos, completed by either cell phone or small camera, and nine reflective essays on film by the participants in the course: An Introduction to Film Studies: Activism, Caribbean Nation Building and the Politics of Filmmaking for Social Work. Within this issue there is also an introduction by the editor Pedro de Weever on how the Film project came about and an exploratory non-fiction piece “Reflections of a Filmmaker: Representation in Documentary-art” by the instructor of the film course: Sharelly Emanuelson.
Commentaries is available on the internet; via the following link: http://www.usmonline.net/#/Commentaries/.