Tag Archives: Caribbean

Upcoming Event: The Importance of the Mother Tongue in Children’s Literature in the Caribbean

85891c95e3a314e3e36e89d572df8af0Mother Tongues United is an event organized by CLACS in partnership with  The Haitian Creole Language Institute of New York (HCLI) and Port Academie to bring together educators, authors, and activists from different language communities to discuss the importance of the use of the Mother Tongue in Children’s Literature in the Caribbean.

At the center of the event will be the discussion of Creoles of the Caribbean’s struggle with overcoming the negative stereotype associated with speaking their Mother Tongue and the legacy of historically undervalued languages of marginalized people.

Participants will discuss what is currently being done to positively promote and preserve the Mother Tongue, and how their respective diasporic communities contribute to a shift in the perception of the language.

Guest panelists will include, among others, Riva Nyri Précil, author of “Anaëlle and The Mermaid”, Carmel Balan, founder of Port Academie, and Keisha Wiel, Papiamentu Scholar. The Panel Discussion will be followed by Professional Development break-out sessions focusing on Lesson Planning, Increasing Parental Involvement, and Cultural Sensitivity Training. Light refreshments will be provided.

Please join us Monday, October 17, 5:30 p.m. at the KJCC Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. A valid ID is required to enter the building.

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Anti-Imperial Imperialism as a Revolutionary Model?

Written by CLACS MA student Michael Cary.

Last Monday marked the second installment of the Spring 2016 Colloquium Series. CLACS was happy to receive Joshua Simon of Columbia University, who gave us a preview of his upcoming book. In a lecture titled “The Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought,” Simon presented a unified interpretation of independence movements in the Americas.

Breaking with the models expounded by what he calls the “Age of Revolutions” and “Incipient Nationalism” theses, Simon instead posits that we should consider the commonalities among the American independence movements themselves. He makes his case by analyzing the specific role played by Creoles, and their position within colonial empires. Essentially, Simon links the Creole revolutions by showing how various revolutionary leaders reacted the inherent contradictions caused by revolution in the context of the Creole classes positioning between the European colonizer and the American colonized. For the Creole class, the dilemma was: “How to end European rule of the Americas without undermining Creole rule in the Americas?”

Drawing on the revolutionary figures Alexander Hamilton, Simón Bolívar and Lucas Alamán, Simon characterizes American and Latin American independence movements as both “anti-imperial and imperial at the same time.” He then points out how shared political thought manifested itself in the justification of independence, the constitutions of these nascent governments, and their early foreign policy positions.

You can watch the full video of the event below:

Prof. Katherine Smith’s Presentation on Haitian Freemasons at the 40th Annual CSA Conference

Freemasons parade in Jacmel, Haiti, 2013. Photo by Katherine Smith

Freemasons parade in Jacmel, Haiti, 2013. Photo by Katherine Smith

On May 25th, Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow Katherine Smith presented her research on Haitian Freemasonry at the 40th Annual Caribbean Studies Association Conference in New Orleans. The Freemasons claim historical roots in medieval stone masonry guilds of Europe and mythological origins in the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. However, the organization, as it is known today, descends from lodges founded in England and Scotland in the 18th century. Masonic symbolism and rituals embodied Enlightenment ideals such as truth, reason, and liberty. The participation of Africans and their descendants in Freemasonry, and other fraternal organizations, complicates our understanding Enlightenment thought and, by extension, the historical formation of modernity. Smith’s paper focused on Haiti and the legacy of the Enlightenment as expressed in Masonic philosophy, aesthetics, and ceremonies in the present.

Freemasons celebrate the eve of Saint John's Day with a traditional bonfire. Jacmel, Haiti,  2013. Photo by Katherine Smith

Freemasons celebrate the eve of Saint John’s Day with a traditional bonfire. Jacmel, Haiti, 2013. Photo by Katherine Smith

Seeing the Change: La Fábrica in Havana

Posted by Nicki Fleischner- MA Candidate at CLACS/ Global Journalism at NYU 

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Kevin, a 24 year-old design student, checking out the skateboard exhibition at La Fábrica.

When we arrived there is already a line snaking its way around the block: Cuban girls in heels, boys in gold chains and brightly printed graphic tees, foreign tourists or exchange students sprinkled throughout. At the door a few groups try to grease the impressively built bouncers. Some people are successful just by dropping the right name, or flashing their Biennial art festival badges—available only to those (mostly foreign tour groups) who paid for them ahead of time. It’s the Biennial’s opening night at La Fábrica in Havana, and as several people have emphasized to me, it is the place to be.

I always knew I wanted to do my fieldwork in Havana. Following President Raúl Castro’s economic reforms in 2010 and then President Barack Obama’s decision to renew diplomatic relations with the country last December (and the slew of media hype that has followed), it feels like the right time to be here; a time when Cuba is on the brink of transformation (or not at all, as many of my more cynical Cuban friends will tell me). Leaving for Havana on my direct flight from New York (another change) the check-in line filled with American tour groups headed to Havana’s 12th Biennial— an international art festival that takes place in the city from late May through June—it did feel different, and that an opening up (and commercialization) is actually happening. Now in Havana it is my goal to assess what the “changes” we read about have tangibly resulted in for Cuba’s younger generation: does it impact their daily lives, their aspirations for the future, their conception of themselves?

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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.

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.

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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When ‘the New’ Conquered Latin America: Newness and Value in the Era of Independence

foto VíctorOn Monday, March 2nd, our Spring 2015 Colloquium Lecture Series continues in exploring the topic of Latin American independence through an interdisciplinary lens that includes political history, political theory, and cultural studies. For this second lecture titled “When ‘the New’ Conquered Latin America: Newness and Value in the Era of Independence,” we will be hosting Victor Goldgel-Carballo of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

In what promises to be a fascinating talk, Professor Goldgel-Carballo will explore the value of newness as an increasingly contested criterion throughout Latin America in the early 19th century. Focusing on problems of temporality in Havana, Buenos Aires, and Santiago de Chile, Goldgel-Carballo talk will analyze, among other things, the power to mark the emergence of a new time attributed to media and the development of new forms of discursive authority, such as the ability to be “up-to-date.” This lecture and the reception to follow will be held at the Deutsches Haus starting at 6pm.

Victor Goldgel-Carballo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His research and teaching focuses on 19th-century Latin American literature, media history, visual culture, and racial categories. His book Cuando lo nuevo conquistó América. Prensa, moda y literatura en el siglo XIX (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2013), was awarded the Premio Iberoamericano by the Latin American Studies Association. Cuando lo nuevo conquistó América reconstructs the emergence of the new as a modern criterion of value in Latin America. He has also published on the figure of the impostor in the Cuban novel, the Latin American origins of snobbery, and the aesthetic articulations of the art of “making do” in contemporary Argentina. A recipient of fellowships and grants from the Social Science Research Council, the Mellon Foundation, the John W. Kluge Center, the University of Warwick, and the UW-Madison Institute for Research in the Humanities, he is currently at work on a book project entitled Passing as Open Secret: Race and Fictions of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Cuba.

The March 2nd talk will be followed by a lecture titled “Race and the Transatlantic Print Culture of the Haitian Revolution, 1789-1865,” April 13th at the KJCC Auditorium by Marlene Daut, Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies Claremont Graduate University. Two weeks later, on April 27th, novelist and professor at Goucher University, Madison Smartt Bell will give a lecture titled “Desalines Disembodied.” On May 11th, our closing lecture of the series will be “Bolívar as Slaveholder, the Image of 1815, and the Myth of Abolition,” by Michael Zeuske of Universität zu Köln, Iberische und Lateinamerikanische Abt./ Historisches Institut.

To register for the March 2nd lecture please click here. For more information about the Colloquium series, and other upcoming events please click here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.