Tag Archives: Cuba

Ada Ferrer’s Book Wins Prestigious Prize

Ada Ferrer's book, Freedom's Mirror, won three awards from the American Historical Association.

Ada Ferrer’s book, Freedom’s Mirror, has already won four prestigious awards.

Ada Ferrer, professor of history and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University, has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her book “Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution” (Cambridge University Press).

The Douglass Prize was created jointly by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. It is awarded annually by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the best book written in English on slavery or abolition. The $25,000 prize will be presented to Ferrer at a reception sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York City on February 4, 2016.

In addition to Ferrer, the other finalists for the prize were Ezra Greenspan for “William Wells Brown: An African American Life” (W. W. Norton), and Michael Guasco for “Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic World” (University of Pennsylvania Press).

This year’s finalists were selected from a field of more than 80 books by a jury of scholars that included Douglas Egerton (chair) of Le Moyne College, Rosanne Adderley of Tulane University, and James Sweet  of the University of Wisconsin. The winners were selected by a review committee of representatives from the Gilder Lehrman Center, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Yale.

“Freedom’s Mirror” offers “a fresh perspective and links these two nations together in a complex web, in which sugar slavery declined in Haiti just as it rose in Cuba,” commented the jury. “Ferrer’s research is most impressive; she fills her pages with proslavery Cuban generals, African slaves in both colonies, refugee ‘French Negroes,’ and Haitian leaders who hoped to weaken slavery on the islands that surrounded them. ‘Freedom’s Mirror’ will force even specialists to reconsider this era.” The jury also praised Ferrer’s “rendering of the complex politics in a beautifully written and understandable way that will be readily followed by readers with minimal knowledge of 19th-century Cuba, Haiti, and the Spanish Caribbean.”

This Ferrer’s book has already been awarded with other prestigious prizes. For instance it won the Friedrich Katz Prize in Latin American and Caribbean History, the Wesley-Logan Prize in African Diaspora History, and the James A. Rawley Prize for the History of the Atlantic Worlds before the 20th Century.

The Frederick Douglass Book Prize was established in 1999 to stimulate scholarship in the field of slavery and abolition by honoring outstanding books on the subject. The award is named for Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the slave who escaped bondage to emerge as one of the great American abolitionists, reformers, writers, and orators of the 19th century.


*Re-blogged from news.yale.edu. See original post here.

#CubAngola40 is Almost Here – What You Need to Know

CubAngola Program Cover

This Friday, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center (KJCC), Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, and the Department of History at NYU have the pleasure of welcoming a diverse group of speakers to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Cuban military intervention in Angola’s war of independence.

The events of 1975 represented much more than a military intervention; they also had consequences for visual arts, music, anthropology, and other areas. The speakers presenting at this event are the leading scholars on the topic, and their diverse array of experience and academic study speaks to the complexity of the Cuban-Angolan connection.

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#CubAngola40: Rethinking the 1975 Afro-Cuban War

Poster of President Agostinho Neto and Fidel Castro after Angolan independence celebration.

Poster of President Agostinho Neto and Fidel Castro after Angolan independence celebration.

In November of 1975 the Cuban government made a major military intervention in Angola’s independence process. Forty years later we gather to commemorate this historical moment and its consequences with #CubAngola40  – a daylong symposium at New York University.

This event will be held at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center on Friday, November 6th, and will elapse from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

The conference will have the participation of  Piero Gleijeses, Linda Heywood, Christabelle Peters, Adriano Mixinge, Tony Pinelli and Ned Subletteto to remember and reconsider the event, to illuminate its political and cultural consequences and rethink the relevance of this important chapter of Global South history.

What happened in November of 1975?

Forty years ago, the Cuban government launched Operation Carlota, a large-scale military intervention in Angola while this African country was on the eve of its independence from Portugal. The Cuban military victory over the forces supported by the United States and South Africa represented an explosive chapter  of the Cold War and of the African decolonization. The consequences were immediate and long-lasting, since the resulting defeat of South African troops contributed  to the end of the white-supremacist regime of Apartheid. In that context, the intervention of a small Latin American country into the two main geopolitical struggles of the time was not only unique, it represented an audacious South-to-South cooperation.

Nonetheless, this important historical fact still underrepresented.  A great deal of historical and cultural material remains open to exploration, discussion, and scholarship.  Hence, #CubAngola40  begins to redress the scant attention this event has received and will strive to answer many pertinent and suspended questions:

What did the internationalism behind this event mean,or what could it have meant to today’s racial politics of the African diaspora and to transnational solidarity?

What political role did the Bantu-based cultures shared by both countries since early slave trade bring to bear in the Angola-Cuba context?

In light of recent changes in US-Cuba relations, can we expect new narratives, revelations, or perspectives regarding the intervention?

Stay tuned for more information, programs and biographies that are coming. Also follow this link to RSVP.

This week, Afro-Cuban topics are on the spotlight

Cuba Events
On Monday, October 12, the CLACS Caribbean Initiative hosted María del Carmen Barcia and Oilda Hevia Lanier from Casa de Altos Estudios Fernando Ortiz at University of Havana, who presented the latest research that have been conducted on Cuba and the illegal slave trade to a gathering of 15 guests which made for an intimate discussion.

Barcia is a well-known Cuban history professor that has been awarded with the prestigious prizes, Juan Marinello and Casa Award. Her studies emphasize in elites and social power relations. From 1982 – 2002 she was member of Scientific Council of the Cuba’s National Archive.

Meanwhile, Hevia Lanier is another Cuban historian that specializes in African Descendents in Cuba and in the Caribbean. She has been recognized on a myriad of occasions during the Wemilere African Roots Festivals.

This event was held  in room 404 of the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center (KJCC).

Next Thursday, October 15 at 6:30 p.m., a colloquium will be held on the crucial role of books in the advancement of Black advocacy movements throughout the Americas. This event will take place on the fourth floor of 20 Cooper Square and will be led by the Afro Cuban author, bibliographer, and activist Tomás Fernández Robaina.

Fernández Rabaína, is both researcher at the Havana’s National Library and professor at University of Havana. He publishes mostly about Afro-Cuban issues. One of his most prominent books is The Blacks in Cuba 1902-1958: Notes on the history of the struggle against racial discrimination.

He has an extensive background in working for initiatives devoted to anti-racist activities. For instance, the Cuban National Committee on Slave Routes and Cofradía de la Negritud are two of the organizations to which he has been part of.

This free event is co-sponsored by CLACS, the AfroLatin@ Forum, Social and Cultural Analysis, and Ford Foundation.

Finally, to top it all, during Friday, October 16 we will host Heriberto Feraudy Espino, president of the Cuban’s government anti-racism agency –The José Antonio Aponte Commission.

Feraudy Espino will join us at 12:30 p.m. to present on the current racial problems in Cuba. This event will be held in room 404 of KJCC at 53 Washington Square South.

In his many years of experience, Feraudy Espino, has involved himself in teaching at University of Havana and writing both: history and Cuban society academic papers, and fictional literary pieces.

He has also been the director of the Africa and Middle East división at the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples.

This event will be held in Spanish.

Seeing the Change: La Fábrica in Havana

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

Fleischner_Cuba_Fabrica

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.

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.