In anticipation of the next meeting of the Caribbean Studies Association, we are soliciting scholars interested in the use of biography – individual and collective – to explore blackness in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.  Please see the abstract below.  If interested, please contact Lauren Hammond at by November 30, 2016.


Constructing Black Biography, Reclaiming Black Identity: Writing the Histories of Black Identified Afro-descendants in the Hispanic Circum-Caribbean

Current Participants

Christina C. Davidson, Ph.D. Candidate, Duke University

Lauren Hammond, Ph.D., Augustana College

Panel Abstract

Scholars of Afro-Latin America continue to wrestle with how to address the experiences of Afro-descendants in countries where blackness and black contributions are either silenced or minimized in favor of mestizaje. These issues are especially salient in the Spanish-speaking circum-Caribbean, where elites have successfully used ideology and state mechanisms to devalue blackness and exclude Afro-descendants from the official narrative of the country’s history.  While a growing body of research on race and identity in the Hispanic Caribbean has begun to challenge official narratives of Indo-Hispanic nationality, little attention has been given to the methods historians of the African Diaspora in Latin America have employed to locate, contextualize, and analyze source material related to the lives of black-identified Afro-descendants citizens and residents.  This panel explores the historical method of biography and “collective biography,” an approach that considers the voices of individuals or groups who speak for collectives or documents written by groups, in order to reconstruct black history.  As a method, collective biography offers an alternative approach to thinking about race and identity in the Spanish-speaking circum-Caribbean by demonstrating that black identified voices did in fact exist and often had conflicting things to say about race and social belonging.  This panel explores the methodological challenges of this work, the fascinating stories these methods uncover, and the implications of collective biography for the narrative of race in the Caribbean.

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