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Interviews with scholars of the Caribbean about their new books.
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New Books in Caribbean Studie‪s‬ Marshall Poe

    • Maatschappij & cultuur

Interviews with scholars of the Caribbean about their new books.
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    Deborah A. Thomas, "Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair" (Duke UP, 2019)

    Deborah A. Thomas, "Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair" (Duke UP, 2019)

    How can ethnographers use multimedia presentations of their work to reach new audiences, build different relationships with their participants, and promote new practices of witnessing and representation? On today’s episode we talk with Dr. Deborah Thomas, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She tells us about her collaborative and multimodal project, Tivoli Stories (tivolistories.com), based on the 2010 police and military incursion into a West Kingston community in search of a notorious drug trafficker and community don that left at least 75 dead. 
    The project includes a documentary film titled Four Days in May, a museum exhibit, and the 2019 book Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Entanglement, Witnessing, Repair (Duke UP, 2019). Deborah explains how a background in dance led her to become an accidental anthropologist with an interest in both sovereignty and experimental ethnographic practices. She then discusses the Tivoli Stories project, describing how collaborative attempts to gather testimonies of the incursion led to first a documentary and then her book. She takes us behind the curtains for some of the simultaneously aesthetic and political choices of the film and book, including the use of portraits to humanize participants as distinct from the common images of suffering that may be termed ghetto porn. Her reflections offer a concrete and insightful look at an alternative means of ethnographic practice attuned to the lives, experiences, and politics of the communities we study.
    Alex Diamond is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Texas, Austin. Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago. Dr. Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.
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    • 1 u. 13 min.
    Ana-Maurine Lara, "Streetwalking: LGBTQ Lives and Protest in the Dominican Republic" (Rutgers UP, 2020)

    Ana-Maurine Lara, "Streetwalking: LGBTQ Lives and Protest in the Dominican Republic" (Rutgers UP, 2020)

    In Streetwalking: LGBTQ Lives and Protest in the Dominican Republic (Rutgers University Press, 2020), Dr. Ana-Maurine Lara examines the dominant modes of power that seek to suppress LGBTQ lives and identities as well as the ways in which these communities and individuals push back. Lara details how Catholicism and Christianity attempt to delegitimize LGBTQ lives through an insistence on gender binaries and heteronormativity through power it yields in political and domestic life. LGBTQ people and groups enact Streetwalking , which Lara theorizes as the actions of LGBTQ people, such as walking in the street or hanging out in public, as a means to disrupt the Christian colonial gender and sexual order. Streetwalking includes different practices of resistance such as confratación, flipping the script, and cuentos, which people deploy to transform silence into power. Lara walks us through the strategies and tactics LGBTQ people employ to both assert their power and insist on their right to exist.
    Ana-Maurine Lara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Oregon.
    Reighan Gillam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.
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    • 1 u. 3 min.
    Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez, "Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

    Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez, "Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

    Yomaira C. Figueroa-Vásquez pens towards decolonial freedom. Her recently published book, Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature (Northwestern University Press, 2020), uses peripheralized (5) novels, visual/sonic works, poetry, essays, and short stories by diasporic and exiled Afro-Atlantic Hispanophone writers and artists towards “render[ing] legible what these texts offer to subjects who resist ongoing forms of colonialism…” (1). By centering the relationality of Equatorial Guinea, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic from the foundations of Ethnic Studies and Women of Color Feminist methodologies, Figueroa-Vásquez holds space for the different ways Afro-descendant peoples are racialized across the Atlantic while simultaneously attending to the anti-Blackness seemingly endemic to the modern world.
    But what does it mean to decolonize? For Figueroa-Vásquez, “In the contexts of the literature outlined in the texts, I pose that the lifeblood of these worlds takes the shape of decolonizing diasporas – radical Afro-diasporic imaginaries that subvert coloniality and usher in new ways of knowing and being, and interrogate and excavate location and dislocation” (25). By linking the diasporic Afro-Atlantic Hispanophone Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa to the works of Black, Indigenous, and women of color thinkers, the world of decolonial thought emerges through the pages of Decolonizing Diasporas. It is through the literary poetics and artwork made under conditions of destierro – a theory and methodological formulation set out by the author – which become forces that challenge structures of power that give rise to possibilities of subverting colonial mentalities.
    Decolonizing Diaspora reads like a detailed manual for decolonization specifically designed for Afro-Atlantic Hispanophone diasporic subjects on their journey of reimaging and creating other worlds. Each chapter builds on the next. Recognizing the intimate impacts of dictatorship, occupation, and coloniality of gender opens up sites of resistance (Ch. 1) that require faithful witnessing (Ch. 2). Faithful witnessing is a necessary action in Figueroa-Vásquez’s conception of destierro as a decolonial method (Ch.3) and in turn, reveals the condition for demanding reparations and reparations of the imagination (Ch. 4). With an emphasis on decolonial love and relations across difference, the possibilities of Afro-Atlantic resistance and futurities beyond coloniality come into clear view (Ch.5). Even then, Dr. Figueroa-Vásquez guides us back to the Introduction of the book with her last vignette “Relations Again,” in which she underscores the relationships between Equatorial Guinea and the Latinx Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. The reader has no choice but to begin again.
    Jonathan Cortez is a Ph.D. candidate of American Studies at Brown University. They are a historian of 20th-century issues of race, labor, (im)migration, surveillance, space, relational Ethnic Studies, and Latinx Studies.
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    • 1 u. 9 min.
    Daniel B. Rood, "The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery: Technology, Labor, Race, and Capitalism in the Greater Caribbean" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Daniel B. Rood, "The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery: Technology, Labor, Race, and Capitalism in the Greater Caribbean" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    The period of the "second slavery" was marked by geographic expansion of zones of slavery into the Upper US South, Cuba, and Brazil and chronological expansion into the industrial age. As The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery: Technology, Labor, Race, and Capitalism in the Greater Caribbean (Oxford UP, 2020) shows, ambitious planters throughout the Greater Caribbean hired a transnational group of chemists, engineers, and other "plantation experts" to assist them in adapting industrial technologies to suit their "tropical" needs and increase profitability. Not only were technologies reinvented so as to keep manufacturing processes local but slaveholders' adaptation of new racial ideologies also shaped their particular usage of new machines. Finally, these businessmen forged a new set of relationships with one another in order to sidestep the financial dominance of Great Britain and the northeastern United States.
    In addition to promoting new forms of mechanization, the technical experts depended on the know-how of slaves alongside whom they worked. Bondspeople with industrial craft skills played key roles in the development of new production processes and technologies like sugar mills. While the very existence of such skilled slaves contradicted prevailing racial ideologies and allowed black people to wield power in their own interest, their contributions grew the slave economies of Cuba, Brazil, and the Upper South. Together reform-minded planters, technical experts, and enslaved people modernized sugar plantations in Louisiana and Cuba; brought together rural Virginia wheat planters and industrial flour-millers in Richmond with the coffee-planting system of southeastern Brazil; and enabled engineers and iron-makers in Virginia to collaborate with railroad and sugar entrepreneurs in Cuba.
    Through his examination of the creation of these industrial bodies of knowledge, Daniel B. Rood demonstrates the deepening dependence of the Atlantic economy on forced labor after a few revolutionary decades in which it seemed the institution of slavery might be destroyed. The reinvention of this plantation world in the 1840s and 1850s brought a renewed movement in the 1860s, especially from enslaved people themselves in the United States and Cuba, to end chattel slavery.
    This account of capitalism, technology, and slavery offers new perspectives on the nineteenth-century Americas.
    Alejandra Bronfman is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Latin American, Caribbean & U.S. Latino Studies at SUNY, Albany.
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    • 41 min.
    Rose Muzio, "Radical Imagination, Radical Humanity: Puerto Rican Political Activism in New York" (SUNY, 2017)

    Rose Muzio, "Radical Imagination, Radical Humanity: Puerto Rican Political Activism in New York" (SUNY, 2017)

    In Radical Imagination, Radical Humanity: Puerto Rican Political Activism in New York (SUNY, 2017), Rose Muzio analyzes how structural and historical factors--including colonialism, economic marginalization, racial discrimination, and the Black and Brown Power movements of the 1960s--influenced young Puerto Ricans to reject mainstream ideas about political incorporation and join others in struggles against perceived injustices. This analysis provides the first in-depth account of the origins, evolution, achievements, and failures of El Comité-Movimiento de Izquierda Nacional Puertorriqueño, one of the main organizations of the Puerto Rican Left in the 1970s in New York City. El Comité fought for bilingual education programs in public schools, for access to quality jobs and higher education, and against health care budget cuts. The organization mobilized support nationally and internationally to end the US Navy's occupation of Vieques, denounced colonial rule in Puerto Rico, and opposed US aid to authoritarian regimes in Latin America and Africa. Muzio bases her project on dozens of interviews with participants as well as archival documents and news coverage, and shows how a radical, counterhegemonic political perspective evolved organically, rather than as a product of a priori ideology.
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    • 1 u. 5 min.
    Daniel A. Rodriguez, "The Right to Live in Health: Medical Politics in Postindependence Havana" (U North Carolina Press, 2020)

    Daniel A. Rodriguez, "The Right to Live in Health: Medical Politics in Postindependence Havana" (U North Carolina Press, 2020)

    Daniel A. Rodriguez's history of a newly independent Cuba shaking off the U.S. occupation, The Right to Live in Health: Medical Politics in Postindependence Havana (University of North Carolina Press, 2020), focuses on the intersection of public health and politics in Havana. 
    While medical policies were often used to further American colonial power, in Cuba, Rodriguez argues, they evolved into important expressions of anticolonial nationalism as Cuba struggled to establish itself as a modern state. 
    A younger generation of Cuban medical reformers, including physicians, patients, and officials, imagined disease as a kind of remnant of colonial rule. These new medical nationalists, as Rodriguez calls them, looked to medical science to guide Cuba toward what they envisioned as a healthy and independent future. Rodriguez describes how medicine and new public health projects infused republican Cuba's statecraft, powerfully shaping the lives of Havana's residents. He underscores how various stakeholders, including women and people of color, demanded robust government investment in quality medical care for all Cubans, a central national value that continues today. 
    On a broader level, Rodriguez proposes that Latin America, at least as much as the United States and Europe, was an engine for the articulation of citizens' rights, including the right to health care, in the twentieth century.
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    • 51 min.

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