African Diaspora in the Americas as the Focus of Upcoming CLACS Events

Written by William Ramirez, NYU CLACS MA Candidate

In April and May CLACS will be featuring a series of exciting events focusing in the history, culture, and current affairs of the African Diaspora experience in the Americas. These will feature insightful discussions with distingished scholars, performances by renowned artists, and experts on the topics of the Haitian Revolution, 19th Century Afro Brazilian history, the resonance of today’s Quilombos, and the figure of Cuban slave revolt leader and artist Jose Antonio Aponte.

On Monday April 27th, the Spring 2015 Colloquium series Latin American Spring Colloquium, PosterIndependence in the Age of Revolution will feature professor Madison Smartt-Bell (Goucher College) who will discuss his upcoming biography on Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of the fathers of the Haitian Revolution, and his growing significance in Haiti. His lecture is titled “Dessalines Disembodied.”

Thursday April 30th, CLACS hosts two events on Afro Brazilian history and current affairs. Starting at 5pm,  distinguished historian João José Reis (Universidade Federal da Bahia), will discuss the history of slave-owning slaves in Brazil in a presentation titled “Where Slaves were Slave Owners, the Case of 19th Century Bahia.” This lecture is co sponsored by the Africa~Diaspora Forum at NYU and Fordham University.

Later at 7pm, on the second event of the night, Maga Bo, both a DJ and producer residing in Brazil, and BNegão, a vocalist and composer recognized for his Afrocentric hip-hop, dub, funk, and punk music, will present “Quilombo do Futuro: The Contemporary Social and Cultural Resonance of Brazil’s Maroon Communities.” A performance which uses the notion of runaway slave communities as an onset for the interaction of traditional and contemporary music in the country. Brazilian scholar Mariela de Andrade (Universidade Estadual de Campinas), will situate their performance in the larger scope of the current challenges and success of the quilombo movement in Brazil. This event is co sponsored by The Consulate General of Brazil, The Brazilian Studies Center and ILAS at Columbia University.

Friday May 8th and Saturday May 9th, a one-of-a-kind two-day conference hosted by NYU, centered on the leader of the 1811-1812 massive slave rebellion in Cuba. “José Antonio Aponte. José Antonio Aponte and His World: Writing, Painting, and Making Freedom in the African Diaspora,” features renowned scholars from NYU, and other distinguished institutions in the U.S. and abroad, will discuss the visionary leader, his legendary “book of paintings,” and the future direction of “Apontian” scholarship.

Aponte Symposium, Poster
All of the above mentioned events will be held at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU (map) For more information on these and other upcoming events, visit the CLACS website. You can also find the latest information on the events on Facebook and Twitter under the hashtag #ClacsEvents.

Spring Colloquium 2015 – Marlene Daut and the Racial Discourse of Haitian Print Culture

Marlene Daut and her new book Tropics of Haiti:  Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865

Marlene Daut and her new book Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865

Written by CLACS MA Student Patrick Moreno-Covington

As scholars, there is always a hint of uncertainty as to where the fruits of our research will take us. We can so easily start from one time period, community or region and end up “across the world” two or three centuries removed. That is certainly the case for next Monday’s installment of the fascinating Spring 2015 Colloquium Series – Latin American Independence in the Age of Revolution featuring Marlene Daut Associate Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. So how did Daut, an English professor, end up speaking on the print culture in the period following the Haitian Revolution in a series focused on the Atlantic Revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries?

Daut’s path to her academic subject of interest and to completing her upcoming book, Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865 certainly was unorthodox but has been instrumental in the development of her interests. Graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a double B.A. in French and English, Marlene thought she could combine her two interests by studying the literature of francophone Louisiana in the antebellum period as part of the University of Notre Dame’s English department. Building on the links she found between a newly independent Haiti and the francophone culture in the American south, Marlene began digging into a vast body of Haitian fiction that emerged to fictionalize the the events of the Haitian revolution.

But were these works of fiction? Despite containing what were clearly fictionalized accounts of actors integral to the revolution and especially Toussaint Louverture, Daut began to find that the authors of these novels all claimed that the events and descriptions of the Revolution not as fiction but as accurate histories. In particular, elements of the stories describing the racial taxonomies present in Haiti at the time of the uprising and the enlightenment roots of the Revolution were related as truth in the plays, fiction and even the journalism of the time.  As Marlene began to follow these these stories from their circulation in the Antilles and across the Atlantic to Europe, she found clear indications that many of these “histories” were being wholesale reprinted and retold by authors around the world. Daut groups these repeated tropes into to narrative categories – the “mulatto” vengeance narrative and the Enlightenment narrative.

Each of these narratives, while seemingly opposed, worked in conjunction with each other to define the racial discourse of the Revolution and beyond. In many ways, Daut’s work points to the beginnings of a sense of biological racism – defined by the proponents use of “scientific” veracity – that defined the post-independece era of race relations. The investigations into Haitian print culture and its lasting influence on racial discourse can serve as a critical key to revealing some of the silences around the Haitian Revolution that are beginning to be exposed with a new surge in Haiti scholarship.

It is here that the potential impact of Dauts work can extend far beyond discussions of history and literature of the 19th century and into the present day. In light of some of the many comments from public figures that emerged following the 2010 Hatian earthquake Daut can see the racialized tropes of the 1800’s begin to rear their ugly head once again. In a time where it is so easy to click ‘share’ and ‘retweet’, Daut’s work asks us to examine what language we copy and replicate and their implications.

Join CLACS Monday, April 13th at 6 pm in the King Juan Carlos Center Auditorium for Marlene Daut’s talk on Race and the Transatlantic Print Culture of the Haitian Revolution 1789-1865.

Follow CLACS on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all CLACS events and goings on in Latin America. 

Tata Virgilio Chakanamanta Willariwanchik

Bolivian Quechua, Cochabamba Quechua, Virgilio Panozo, Chakana, Incas, Conocimientos ancestrales, UNIBOL, Chimore, Universidad Indigena, Cultura de la Nacion QuechuaTata Virgilio Panozoqa Aiquile ayllupi, Cochabamba-Boliviapi paqarisqa. Pay Quechua Casimiro Huanca Jatun Yachaywasipi yachachiq.Kay Audiopi pay Chakanamanta parlariwanchik. Kay Chakanaqa unaymanta pacha tiyasqa chanta raymichakusqa ima ñin. Chantapis, españoles chayamuptinku kay raymiqa chaqrukusqa chanta wak raymipi tukusqa, kunan p’unchawtaq chay raymita “Santa Vera Cruz tatala” ñisqa sutiwan riqsikun. Manaraq españoles chayamuchkaptinkuqa, kay chakanaqa jatun tatakunanchikman ñanta rikuchiq ñin. Chanta unay jatun tatakuna tawa chhiqamanta qhawaq kasqanku. Tawa yuyaykuna kasqa ñin: munay, yachay, ruway, atiy.
Gladys Camacho Riosqa CLACS-NYUpi Maestríamanta juk yachakuq. Pay kay podcasta Boliviapi, 2014 watapi grabarqa, imaptinchus pay karusuyumantapacha Rimasunpaq llamk’achkarpa.

Virgilio Panozo nació en la provincia de Aiquile, Cochabamba-Bolivia. Es docente en la Universidad Indígena Quechua Casimiro Huanca. En este audio nos explica sobre la fiesta de la Chakana o también llamada “La cruz andina” Se dice que la fiesta de la Chakana existía y se celebraba desde hace muchos años atrás. Sin embargo, con la llegada de los españoles se ha mezclado y se ha convertido en una fiesta cristiana que hoy en día se conoce como la fiesta de “Santa Vera Cruz”. Antes de la colonización, la Chakana era la cruz que guiaba a nuestros antepasados, quienes podían observar desde cuatro ángulos. Se habla de cuatro formas de pensar: “querer, saber, hacer, poder”.
Gladys Camacho Rios es una estudiante de maestría en CLACS-NYU. Ella grabó este podcast en Bolivia en 2014 como correspondiente internacional de Rimasun.

Virgilio Panozo was born in the province of Aiquile, Cochabamba-Bolivia. He is a lecturer at the Quechua Casimiro Huanca Indigenous University in Chimoré. In this podcast he explains the Chakana festivity, also called “The Andean Cross.” The Chakana festivity existed long before the arrival of Spaniards, who blended this festival with another Christian one. Nowadays it is known as the “Santa Vera Cruz” festival. Before colonization, the Chakana was the cross that guided our ancestors, who could observe it from four angles: To want, to know, to do, to be able to.
Gladys Camacho Rios is an MA student at CLACS-NYU. She recorded this podcast in Bolivia in 2014 as international correspondent of Rimasun.

Subscribe to Rimasun via iTunes or via another podcast service
Suscríbete a Rimasun a través de iTunes o a través de otro servicio de podcast
Download this episode (right click, save link as…) / Guarda este episodio

What can pineapples tell us about identity?


Follow a group of NYU students as they journey through the Puerto Rican food chain, as part of the study abroad course “Global Food Cultures Puerto Rico” led by CLACS affiliated faculty Melissa Fuster and Gustavo Setrini.

Originally posted on NYU Food Studies Puerto Rico:

In today’s visits to Atenas Pineapple, the commercial-scale pineapple farm, and Hacienda La Esperanza, the slavery-based sugar plantation turned nature preserve, the question of Puerto Rican identity and its relationship to the Commonwealth’s agricultural and economic goals stood out to me – how are they intertwined? How much does each contribute on its own to a brighter future for Puerto Rico? Would a more deliberate approach to considering these facets of society simultaneously yield more successful outcomes for the Commonwealth?

Building on Duany’s thesis that Puerto Rico has a notably strong cultural identity alongside an amorphous and ambiguous national political identity, and Ortíz Cuadra’s notion that “authentic Puerto Rican-ness” cannot be expressed without an acknowledgement of the multiple global forces that have shaped Puerto Rican cultural and culinary identity, I found myself wondering what the driving vision for agriculture in Puerto Rico could or should be to best establish Puerto…

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Chile: From an Unlikely to a Necessary Reform

The Center for Latin American Studies (CLACS) recently hosted a series of events focused on the current Chilean context. On February 24th, Marco Enríquez-Ominami –presidential candidate in the 2009 and 2013 elections–, was invited to a Q&A session. On the following event, held on March 4th, Fernando Atria, a constitutional lawyer and Professor of Law at the University of Chile, and Chilean Sociologist Miguel Crispi, discussed their ideas on educational reform. This event also featured a perspective on educational reforms in the U.S. by Bloomberg Professor of Business Journalism at Baruch College, Andrea Gabor.

What was most striking about their expositions is that neither of them questioned the need for reform in Chile. The discussion rather focused on the necessary changes that country must implement in order to achieve development. Such a debate was perceived as inconceivable barely a few years ago. The idea of talking about viable and foundational transformations took place in hypothetical settings, and was far from being politically possible.

Neoliberalism was implemented in Chile by Augusto Pinochet’s military regime (1973-1990) and developed by the Concertación governments (1990-2010). It led to greater economic growth, macroeconomic stability and an overall reduction of poverty. Nevertheless, the same market-oriented policies resulted in a greater concentration of wealth, growing inequality, social stratification, a precarious social safety net, and an overall disenchantment with the political-economic system.

The Chilean model has undergone a crisis of legitimacy in recent years. The student protests of 2011 and high abstention rates in the municipal elections of 2012 were symptoms of a much greater problem. Nonetheless, they provided a unique opportunity for the political elite to engage in a serious debate that emphasized the need for change.

However, reform in Chile has been difficult to achieve. This is mainly due to the institutional framework inherited by the dictatorship, which consists of high legislative quorums and an electoral system that fixes the distribution of seats in Congress. Hence, generally speaking, the Chilean political system has numerous veto players –commonly overrepresented in their functions– that are more intent on amending or blocking reforms, than actually approving them.

The Constitution of 1980 provides a good example. 25 years have passed since the democratic transition, and Chileans are still ruled by an authoritarian constitution that was approved in a fraudulent plebiscite.

Moreover, the ongoing transformations have taken on a “bottom-up” approach, leaving behind the “top-down” style commonly used in post-authoritarian politics. Thus, it’s been grassroots organizations –such as student federations– that have promoted change and gained social backing. In other words, they have been the leaders in setting the current political agenda.

In 2013 Michelle Bachelet was re-elected as president of Chile with 62.2% of the national vote. Her electoral platform was built upon social demands and stressed the need for reform. Hence, a vote for Bachelet translated into a vote for modifying the status quo. The president began delivering on her campaign promises as soon as she returned to office. In 2014 her government was successful in passing a series of strategic policies, which included a tax and electoral reform, and the first bills of her educational law.

Nonetheless, the lesson learned so far is that reform isn’t easily accomplished – even if your coalition holds a majority of seats in Congress.

Seven political parties form part of the Nueva Mayoría (former Concertación), each of them with at least one –necessary– vote in the House of Representatives or Senate. It is a heterogeneous coalition that groups conservative Christian Democrats and radical-leaning Communists. As a result, there have been different –and at times contradicting– viewpoints when discussing structural reforms.

Furthermore, the current setting also includes a highly critical civil society and an even more (than usual) reactionary political opposition.

This was one of the underlying messages seen in the presentations made by Enríquez-Ominami, Atria and Crispi. Today, Chileans share a common diagnosis, no matter what their political sector may be. However, when defining a convergent cure, consensus is yet to be met.

Post by Lucas Perelló C., Applied Quantitative Research M.A. student at NYU

Tata Alfredo Llamk’ayninmanta Parlariwanchik

Bolivian Quechua CLACS NYU Alfredo Quiroz Villarroel Cochabamba Quechua Libros en Quechua Norma del Quechua Boliviano Diccionario Quechua Killachaw punchaw Photo by Juan Carlos Vera Guerra
Kay k’acha podcaspi tata Alfredo Quiroz Villarroel Qhichwa simiwan llamk’ayninmanta parlariwanchik. Pay unaymanta pacha Qhichwa simi qillqakuyta qallarikunanpaq yanapasqa. Chanta UNICEFwanpis llamk’allasqataq. Kunankama pay achkha p’anqataña qillqan: arawikunata, imasmarikunata, novela ñisqatapis, diccionario ñisqakunatapis. May sumaqta tata Alfredo willayninwan kusichiwanchik.
Gladys Camacho Riosqa CLACS-NYUpi Maestríamanta juk yachakuq. Pay kay podcasta Boliviapi, 2015 watapi grabarqa, Qhichwa qutupaq llamk’aqjina.

En este podcast Alfredo Quiroz Villarroel nos habla acerca del trabajo que realizó con el Quechua. Desde hace mucho tiempo el colaboró en el proceso de creación de la norma y estandarización del Quechua en Bolivia. Igualmente trabajó con UNICEF. Tiene muchas obras publicadas: cuentos, adivinanzas, novelas y diccionarios. Muy amenamente nos cuenta en este podcast.
Gladys Camacho Rios es una estudiante de maestría en CLACS-NYU. Ella grabó este podcast en Bolivia en 2015 como miembro del comité de Quechua.

In this podcast Alfredo Villarroel Quiroz tells us about the work he has done with Quechua in Bolivia. Alfredo has collaborated in the processes of creating rules and standardizations of the Quechua language in Bolivia. He has also worked with UNICEF. Alfredo also talks to us about the many books he has published of stories, riddles, novels and dictionaries. Take a listen!
Gladys Camacho Rios is an MA student at CLACS-NYU. She recorded this podcast in Bolivia in 2015 as member of the Quechua Outreach Committee.

Subscribe to Rimasun via iTunes or via another podcast service
Suscríbete a Rimasun a través de iTunes o a través de otro servicio de podcast
Download this episode (right click, save link as…) / Guarda este episodio

Iyarina to remember and in remembering, to reflect

I ended up in Iyarina, Ecuador this last summer thanks to an invitation by Dr. Tod Swanson, Associate Professor at Arizona State University, after my dear friend Dr. Osvaldo Sala connected us. At the time, I was auditing a Quechua class at NYU and became very interested in the indigenous struggle related to the preservation of their lands. We talked about climate change, ecology, indigenous identity and language. He sent me the link for the Field School  that he directs near Tena, capital of the province of Napo, one of the entrances to the Ecuadorian Amazon.

While working on my graduate studies in Arizona State, I was an assistant for different study abroad programs, one in Spain for a couple of trips, as well as one in Mexico. It was through these experiences that I recognized the key role of immersion in any field the student is taking on. Since I teach Spanish as a second language, I am an advocate for these kinds of programs that help improve and solidify one’s previous knowledge.

When I took my plane from New York to Ecuador, I was not really thinking much about the program. Argentina, my home country, was playing the first soccer match for the 2014 World Cup and I was also very busy finalizing my teaching semester at New York University. I got to Iyarina one evening a week after the program started, and what I saw left me speechless. There were more than 30 students, both undergraduate and graduate, from different fields: Anthropology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Law, Psychology, Literature, Geology; 3 professors: Dr. Tod Swanson, Dr. John Frechione and Dr. Samuel St. Clair; and a whole family making the program run as smooth as you can imagine.

I was assigned to one room with a graduate student in linguistic anthropology from the University of Michigan. In the room next door was Dr. John Frechione, Associate Director of CLAS at the University of Pittsburgh. It was a nerd heaven: after a delicious traditional breakfast, we had anthropology classes with Dr. Frechione every morning and. Then, depending on the rain, we would head to the jungle with two Napo Kichwa women to hear them teach us about ecology from their traditional knowledge with Dr. Swanson’s ethnobotany class. After that, we would have lunch, and head to the last class of the day on the Napo Kichwa language. Dr. Samuel St. Clair from BYU was also teaching biology at the same time as Dr. Frechione’s class. I would have loved to take this course, but it was impossible to take all the classes. I would also see his class walk to the jungle and conduct the classes right there, in situ, explaining the beautiful world of nature to his students.

When the first session was over, we had a week off, of which I took full advantage and traveled to Otavalo, in the Andes, and then to Mompiche, a beautiful small beach near the Colombian border. When I came back to Iyarina, some students had left but I met new students that were joining us for the second term of the summer together with other professors: Alana DeLoge, who taught health in the Napo Region, and Dr. Tim Savisky who taught sustainability. Dr. Swanson was also teaching the continuation of his ethnobotany course.

During the entire 8-week program, we made traditional style ceramics, learned how to prepare chicha (a drink made of fermented yuca), we learned how to cultivate and harvest lumu (yuca), we tasted amazing traditional food, and we lived as a “minga” (a collective of people working together) with the family that ran the accommodations for all of us. Some of the highlights of this program were studying together, talking about readings, walking through the jungle with members of the community learning about medicinal plants and, by the end of the 8 weeks program, being able to speak some Kichwa! I am planning on traveling there again this upcoming summer since it is, pretty much, heaven on earth for intellectual nerds. Chita rikangauranchi!

By Marcela Naciff, Visiting Lecturer at NYU