This essay serves as an introduction to the special section “States of Crisis.” Principally a meditation on political and ecological crisis in the Caribbean, this introduction revisits two concurrent events—the devastation of The Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian, and the arrival of the first oil production vessel in Guyanese territorial waters—and probes the contradictions between the extractive imperative of economic nationalism and the existential threat of Caribbean extinction. Engaging “flags of convenience” as a practice of merchant ship registration and a metaphor for the ideal of postcolonial sovereignty, this essay considers how climate crisis demands a refusal of the state form as the limit to a regional political horizon and a rejection of nationalist historiography as a basis for the project of Caribbean criticism.

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