This seminar entails a historical exploration of the global and local material conditions, the imperial-colonial and national politics, and the complex socio-cultural relations that have led (and continues to do so today) to the formation of a wide array of identities and subjectivities among Afro-descendant populations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Simultaneously, we will also investigate the many forms of negotiation, resistance, and creative adaptations Afro-descendant communities and individuals have designed and employed to counter the many systems of oppression that constrain their social lives. Readings and discussions will privilege the experiences of Afro-diasporic communities and individuals in regions of the Americas directly (although not exclusively) shaped by the Spanish and Portuguese imperial machinery.
As students in the U.S., we have come to accept certain ideas and practices about race, particularly the U.S binary conception of white-black, as normative. In placing our inquisitive gaze in other areas of the Americas, this course aims to unsettle racial binaries by unraveling a constellation of racialized formations (beyond white and black). The latter had been shaped by particular histories and are specific to time and space but cannot be easily contained and demarked through the rubric of empire or nation (i.e. the Spanish imperial system or the British one; Brazil or the U.S.). In addition, we will be invested in deconstructing linear, one-dimensional narratives that rob communities and individuals of their agency and human complexity.
This seminar requires deep engagement with the weekly readings as it is not based on lectures but on discussion. Assignments include weekly reading reflections, two short papers based on class readings, and a final research paper (10-12 pages) based on primary sources.
In addition to book chapters and journal articles, the class requires the following three texts:
*Russell Lohse, Africans into Creoles: Slavery, Ethnicity, and Identity in Colonial Costa Rica (New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 2014)
*James H Sweet, Domingos Alvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (Chapel Hill: University Of North Carolina, 2011)
*Ginetta Candelario, Black Behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity From Museums to Beauty Shops (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007)