Announcing the Spring 2016 Colloquium

By Brendan Fields, CLACS MA Student

Beginning on February 1st at 6pm, CLACS will be hosting its research Spring colloquium series where top scholars will present current research in the field of Latin American Studies. The theme of the colloquium is “Political Imaginaries Across Latin America and The Caribbean.” “We chose this theme because it should allow us to think about processes and dynamics of power, ethnicity and state formation. Citizenship, race or gender are ways of thinking and forms of interdependence unfolding within power relations, not essences or monoliths,” says CLACS Professor Edgardo Pérez Morales who is one of our faculty members organizing the series. “That’s what we aim to grasp in this colloquium.”

To help attendees grasp the complexities involved in understanding these imaginaries, CLACS has invited a diverse group of scholars to present their work from disciplines ranging from anthropology to political science to religion. With such a collection of renowned scholars present, attendees will surely gain a lot from the talks. “If you attend the whole series, I think you can begin to really see the state of Latin American and Caribbean studies and what the new frontiers are,” says CLACS Professor Katherine Smith. “Plus, there’s always a reception, which is often when the best conversations and insights happen!” The opportunity to share time and conversations is invaluable as a way for individual students to participate in a community of knowledge. “Focusing on our political imagination is something worth considering. Coming to these talks can help take this normally individual endeavor and make it a bit more collective,” says CLACS Professor Pamela Calla.

To kick off the series on February 1st Irene Silverblatt, of Duke University, will give a talk entitled Stained Blood in the Old World and the New: New Christians and the Racial Categories of the Colonial-Modern World.

Professor Silverblatt will explore the racializing of human beings and its repercussions for colonial categories of rule and the cultural ordering of the modern world. The lecture and following discussion, moderated by CLACS faculty member  and Associate Professor of History at NYU Sinclair Thomson, is framed on the following abstract by the presenter:

Hannah Arendt, among others, understood 19th century European colonialism – a form of governance which, like twentieth century fascism, supported the world-wide dominance of a master race – as key to understanding the brutal, submerged underside of modern, Western experience. However, it was 16th century Europe’s first wave of colonial expansion, spearheaded by Spain, that provides a more elaborate picture. The first wave was forged during the turbulence of modern state-making when many (but not all) officials of Church and Crown believed the Iberian Peninsula’s “New Christians” (or conversos of Jewish and Moorish descent) could not be loyal subjects because they were cursed by the “stained blood” of their ancestors. Transported to the Americas, the New Christian syndrome, with its obsession with blood purity and its political language of stains, fertilized the racial bent of modern, colonial geopolitics. The point of entry into this discussion will be the meanings of “New Christian” in the New World.

Irene Silverblatt is a Professor of Cultural Anthropology, History, and Women’s Studies at Duke University. She researches the cultural dimensions of power; specifically, state-building and colonization in Latin America and the politics of memory in central Europe. Her published works include Harvest of Blossoms: Poetry of a Life Cut Short (Collected Poetry of Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger) (edited and with an introduction by Irene Silverblatt and Helene Silverblatt 2008); Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World (2004); Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru (1987) as well as articles on related themes. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard University), and the Social Science Research Council, among others. Professor Silverblatt has also served as President of the American Society for Ethnohistory.

For more information about the event and to RSVP, click here.

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