This seminar course 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, the Caribbean, and Latinx US. 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 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.). Secondly, 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 reading to make class discussion successful. Instead of exams, we will have two short analytical papers based on class readings. The final assignment is a research paper (10-12 pages), on the topic of your choosing, based on the analysis of primary materials and few secondary sources.