What is this Thing Called Callaloo? An Introduction

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2007


After thirty years and 106 issues, the question that lingers for many who encounter Callaloo, and which the journal has never sought to answer beyond printing a recipe and a brief reflection in its inaugural issue, is: what is it? To what does callaloo refer? Simply, not a thing. Begun in 1976, the journal itself is the record of a three-decades-long process of making concrete a sound, to feed an aesthetic. What lies behind that sound are metaphor, translation, invention, and the processes by which people satisfy the hunger of a new rootedness. Charles H. Rowell's seduction by a word that neither he nor assistant professor Leila H. Taylor could spell leads us thirty years later to a unique exploration of the relationship between material practice, aesthetic culture, and oral tradition in the African Diaspora.

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