Tag Archives: African Diaspora

“Hunting Men”: Migration, Racial Discrimination, and Military Conscription in the Río de la Plata

Posted by Keyanah Freeland, PhD Student Department of History

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As I noted in my last entry, the Biblioteca Nacional de Uruguay houses a collection of Afro-Uruguayan periodicals spanning the mid-nineteenth century well into the twentieth. For the past few weeks, I have been conducting research there, parsing through the periodicals of the late nineteenth century in order to track the social, cultural, political, and intellectual exchanges between Afro-Uruguayans and their Afro-Argentine counterparts living in Buenos Aires. While the periodicals continue to confirm my aforementioned insights around the relationship between the making of diaspora and intellectual production, they also have revealed new developments around the contentious relationship between the Uruguayan state, the Afro-Uruguayan communities living in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and the rationale behind the significant numbers of Afro-Uruguayans emigrating across the Río de la Plata at the turn of the twentieth century.

In June and July of 1889, the Afro-Uruguayan periodical, El Periódico, published extensive accounts of the Centro Uruguayo’s various celebrations of Uruguay’s national independence, written and sent back to Montevideo by their own correspondents in Buenos Aires. Founded in 1884, the Centro Uruguayo functioned as a mutual aid society for Afro-Uruguayans who had immigrated to Buenos Aires. Despite the relatively short institutional history of this mutual aid society, the 1889 coverage of the center suggests a strong political and social presence in Buenos Aires. According to El Periódico’s published reports, the center’s festivities not only attracted Afro-Uruguayans and Afro-Argentines alike, but in a brilliant act of political theatre —or perhaps protest— members of the center even visited the current President of the Uruguayan Republic, General Máximo Tajes, as he visited Buenos Aires.

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The Ties that Bind: The Making of Diaspora in the Río de la Plata

Posted by – Keyanah Freeland, PhD Student NYU Department of History

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January 11, 1885 Edition of the Afro-Uruguayan Newspaper “La Regeneración” discusses and critiques an anti-black article that appeared in another Montevideo periodical

 

Historically separated and linked by the estuary of the Río de la Plata, the cities of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay are not often figured as important sites within the historic formation of the African Diaspora within the Americas. Indeed, since the arrival of millions of European immigrants (mainly Spanish and Italian) to the region at the turn of the twentieth century, both nations have, to varying degrees, fashioned themselves as “white nations.” On the one hand, the precipitous decline of both cities’ populations of African descent from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth  lent some credence to the presumed new racial homogeneity of both cities.  According to the national censuses of both countries, the population of African descent in Buenos Aires had decreased from 25% to less than 2%, and in Montevideo from 10.7% to less than 1% (Reid Andrews, 1980, 2010). On the other, the ideological erasure of blackness on both sides of the Río de la Plata through the writings of prominent intellectuals and politicians contributed to a process of Europeanization, of reconstituting Europe physically and socially in the Americas. Blackness, as well as indigeneity and any other form of unaccepted nonwhiteness, thus had no place in the vision and constitution of these “white nations.”

However, as early as the 1930s, historians, anthropologists, and literary scholars have argued against the narratives of erasure that either deny the presence of people of African descent beyond the end of the nineteenth century (in the case of Argentina) or distort their contributions and importance to national history (in the case of Uruguay). From the pioneering works of historians Elena Studer, Miguel Angel Rosal, and George Reid Andrews, to the more recent scholarly contributions of historian Alex Borucki and anthropologist Lea Geler, a variety of counter-narratives have demonstrated the importance of slavery to the region throughout the colonial period, the profound contributions of men of color to the region’s wars of independence, the rich tradition of nineteenth and twentieth century black intellectual and journalistic production, and finally, the sustained fight for civic and political equality amidst continued discrimination. Continue reading

Homecoming Rizado

My name is Saudi Garcia and I am a first year doctoral student in the NYU Department of Anthropology. My research interests lie at the intersection of race, gender, practice theory and digital media activism. This summer, I will be researching the natural hair movement in the Dominican Republic, historicizing and documenting the collection of people, places and digital spaces that together amount to a force that is visibly shifting Dominican society and culture. I will be talking to individuals about the impact that “going natural” has had on their lives, the lives of their families and Dominican society at large.

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The Dominican racial difference paradox: Many different skin tones, one accepted and expected hair texture.

While much has been written about policies and norms that point to “black denial” in the Dominican Republic, few monographs have substantially covered the emerging efforts to develop Afro-identification and pride in the country. My work this summer involves learning about the journeys and struggles of the women (and men) who embrace natural hair in a place where wearing hair curly or afro has been interpreted as an act of rebellion that belies the Eurocentric aesthetic standards that have long been the norm among Dominicans.

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African Diaspora Spotlight at CLACS this Week

On Monday, April 18th CLACS will be hosting and co-sponsoring events that focus on the culture and current affairs of the African diaspora in the Caribbean and Latin America.

IMG_62571We begin at 5:00pm with the opening of The Free Black Women’s Library: NYU CLACS Pop-up, as part of the Kreyòl at NYU initiative. Installed at KJCC’s Portrait Room through the evening, this edition will feature a conversation with its founder Ola Ronke and will focus on Caribbean Women authors. Visitors to the pop up are encouraged to bring books and/or make donations to The Free Black Women’s Library. For more information click here.

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At 6:00pm CLACS will host the last edition of the 2016 Spring Colloquium Political Imaginaries Across Latin America and the Caribbean, with a lecture by Elizabeth McAlister titled “The Militarization of Prayer and Evangelical Spiritual Warfare in Haiti.” The lecture by Professor McAlister of Wesleyan Univesity, describes how Americans engage evangelicals in Haiti to fight against the creole religious tradition called Vodou, which they consider a Satanic enemy. This event will be held at the KJCC Auditorium. To learn more about the lecture and to rsvp, please follow this link.

blacklivesmatterAt 6:30pm, CLACS is proud of co-sponsoring the event titled “#Blacklivesmatter: Race, Space, and Consciousness.” Organized by a committee of NYU graduate students, including Larnies Bowen of CLACS, the event features a panel of renowned experts from the US and Latin America moderated by Arlene Davila Professor of Anthropology, Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. For more information and to rsvp click here.

Aponte and His World Conference Dives into A Radical Vision of Slave Uprising

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Dominique Serres, The Capture of Havana, 1762: Taking the Town, 14 August, c. 1775, oil on canvas

Written by CLACS MA Candidate Constanza Ontaneda Rehman-Khedker

Coming soon, on Friday May 8th and Saturday May 9th, NYU will be proud to host a one-of-a-kind two-day conference 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,” will feature more than twenty renowned scholars from NYU, and other distinguished institutions in the U.S. and abroad, who will discuss the visionary leader, his legendary “book of paintings,” and the future direction of “Apontian” scholarship.

Over the past fifteen years, scholars have shown a renewed interest in the political and historical legacy of José Antonio Aponte (?-1812), a free man of color, carpenter, artist, and alleged leader of a massive antislavery conspiracy and rebellion in colonial Cuba in 1811-1812. Aponte was also the creator of an unusual work of art—a “book of paintings” full of historical and mythical figures, including black kings, emperors, priests, and soldiers that he showed to and discussed with fellow conspirators. Aponte’s vision of a black history connected a diasporic and transatlantic past to the possibility of imagining a sovereign future for free and enslaved people of color in colonial Cuba. Although the “book of paintings” is believed to be lost, colonial Spanish officials interrogated Aponte about its contents after arresting him for organizing the rebellions, and Aponte’s sometimes elaborate, always elusive, descriptions of the book’s pages survive in the archival trial records.

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Gilles-Louis Chrétien after a drawing by Fouquet, Potrait of Vincent Ogé, 1790, engraving

From myriad academic backgrounds in the humanities, historians, anthropologists, philosophers, literary scholars, and art historians explore the figure of Aponte as artist, intellectual, revolutionary, and theorist. In addition to this scholarly interest, Aponte has also been re-enshrined as a national figure in contemporary Cuba, following a 2012 bicentennial that commemorated his death at the hands of colonial authorities. However, given the recent scholarly and public focus on Aponte, there has not yet been a conference dedicated to the interdisciplinary scholarly perspectives that have sought to advance the study of the singular “book of paintings” and its visionary creator.

“José Antonio Aponte. José Antonio Aponte and His World: Writing, Painting, and Making Freedom in the African Diaspora,” brings together scholars to discuss the current state of “Apontian” studies and suggest future directions for scholarship. It includes, as well, scholars doing work on questions of historical memory, the intellectual history of the enslaved, and the relationship between text, image, and politics in other settings in order to put Aponte’s history in conversation with a wider world, much, indeed, as his own “book of paintings” tried to do.

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For the conference program click here.

To register for the conference, please click here.

Join us for this conference at the King Juan Carlos Center at New York University, 53 Washington Square South. Click here for a Google map. The closest subway is the West 4th station where the A, B, C, D, E, F trains stop. For more information, please contact lmr273 [@] nyu [.] edu.

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Sponsorship for the conference has been generously provided by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts, Humanities and Diversity, the Caribbean Initiative of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Department of History, the Reed Foundation, and the Department of Art History.

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 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.