Waves of Arrivance

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Sebastian De Line
Frances H O’Shaughnessy


In this essay, we conduct an ancestral genealogy of the term “arrivant” through Kumina ceremony. A spiritual and ceremonial practice based in Jamaica, Kumina is, as Kamau Brathwaite describes, a living  fragmentation of an African religion which arrived in the Caribbean through the Middle Passage. On arrival, Kumina retained its ancestral remembrance and its Central African Indigeneity. The tidal intimacies of Kumina have a relation to Imogene “Queenie” Kennedy, known by Kamau Brathwaite, in the title-inspired epigraph to The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1973), as Kumina Queen. Originally based in St. Thomas and later Kingston, Jamaica, Kennedy’s role in her community as a Kumina Queen exemplifies the intimacies and relationalities among African and Taíno Indigeneities. Through her life and her Word, this paper will consider how “arrivant” continues to be an honorific for Central
African ancestors who arrived in Jamaica as liminally enslaved and indentured.

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Author Biographies

Sebastian De Line, Queen’s University (situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory).

Sebastian De Line is a queer, trans artist and scholar of Haudenosaunee-Métis-Cantonese descent who was born in Burnaby, British Columbia. on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. He/they hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts. in Autonomous Fine Art from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, an Master of Arts in Art Praxis from the Dutch Art Institute and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University (situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory).

Frances H O’Shaughnessy, University of Washington

Frances H. O’Shaughnessy is a graduate student at the University of Washington in the Department of History (situated on Duwamish, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot territory). They recently completed a master’s degree in gender studies at Queen’s University, studying the political and literary works of José Rizal. A white settler scholar, their work seeks to be in relation with Black studies, Indigenous studies, and Philippine studies.