On Sabbatical leave 2020-2021
I am a historian of the African Diaspora in Colonial Latin America and the Caribbean. My research looks into the subjectivity, intellectual creativity, and the political imagination of enslaved and free women of African descent (mostly), who lived in Caracas-Venezuela, during the eighteenth century. I explore how these historical actors envisioned, aspired, and negotiated their rights, autonomy, freedom(s) papers, social and political membership, and dignity. My work seeks to unmask the reasons why most of Latin American historiography did previously dismissed the intellectual contributions of these social actors. Furthermore, my research traces how enslaved and free Black women’s political imagination contributed to what we now consider some of the core elements of modernity. While my work is anchored in the eighteenth century, I trace how the sequelae of implicit, insidious, and discursive forms of violence from that past, still linger and perpetuate devaluation and racialization in our present days.
I am a Venezuelan of Haitian descent and I am also a person shaped by larger worlds. Thanks to a never-ending curiosity, I spent two-plus years in Socialist Eastern Europe. My early passion did lead me to earn a Licenciatura degree at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Conservation biology/behavioral ecology. That brought me to the U.S. and a year later took me to Cameroon-West Africa, where I came across the roots of several Venezuelan and Latin American cultural elements. I began to question silenced African contributions to the hemisphere and the world.
I have lived for many years in the Northeast of the United States. In Philadelphia-PA, I created the Annual Arturo Schomburg Symposium (going to its 26th consecutive year), at Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc. http://tallerpr.org/ This event brings together scholars, professionals, activists, and artists who gather the last Saturday of February to share, with a wide audience, their expertise about the African presence in Latinx and Latin American history and cultures. Creating this venue connected me to trans-national Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latinx activism. Then I felt the urge to understand how Latin American/Latinx unsung racialized pathologies evolved across time. I became a historian.
Research and Teaching Interests:
More broadly I am interested in:
- The political aspiration of enslaved and free people of African descent everywhere.
- The complexity of the unsung Black intellectual tradition in Spanish America and their contribution to World ideas and philosophy.
- The role that insidious and implicit forms of violence play in shaping systemic and structural racism.
- The ways in which racialized and hegemonic narratives, and power dynamics evolve across time, are internalized by a majority and become “naturalized” as truth.
- Our responsibility, as historians, to step out of our privilege, so that our work contributes to dismantling all forms of oppression, and making this a better world.
I am working on a manuscript tentatively titled: Claims of Dignity: Black Women’s Political Imagination in Venezuela, 1730s-1809.
Author: Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the Quintessential Maroon: Toward an African Diasporic Epistemology. Small Axe, A Caribbean Journal of Criticism. 61. 2020. 132-141. https://read.dukeupress.edu/small-axe/article-abstract/24/1%20(61)/132/160594/Arturo-Alfonso-Schomburg-the-Quintessential-Maroon?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Author: Esclavizadas litigantes, ideas y praxis de una modernidad silenciada. Studia Iberica et Americana Journal of Iberian and Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies. Las Otras Modernidades de Venezuela. Issue December 2018. 31-48. https://www.studia-iberica-americana.com/issues/issue-5-december-2018-ref100056528.html
Author/Essayist, “Esclavizadas, cimarronaje y la ley en Venezuela, 1760-1809.” Ch 2. 77-108. In anthology Demando Mi Libertad. Mujeres negras y sus estrategias de resistencia en la Nueva Granada, Venezuela y Cuba. Editorial Universidad Icesi. Cali-Colombia. 2018. https://www.icesi.edu.co/editorial/demando-mi-libertad/ Awarded by the LASA Colombia Section, The Monserrat Ordóñez award as the best book on women and gender in Colombia.
Nov. 2015. Book Review, Ann Twinam, “Purchasing Whiteness: Pardos, Mulattos, and the Quest for Social Mobility in the Spanish Indies.” Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 2015. E.I.A.L (Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe) Instituto Sverdlin de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, Tel Aviv University.
2014. Author/Essayist, “Debates públicos de la afrodescendencia hacia el fin de la colonia.” In Memorias 1er Foro Internacional de Afrodesendencia y Descolonización de la Memoria. Homenaje a Juan José Rondón. (August 2012). Caracas: Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Cultura – Fundación Centro Nacional de Historia – Archivo General de la Nación. Caracas, Venezuela.
2010. Author/Essayist, “Invoking Arturo Schomburg’s Legacy in Philadelphia,” in The Afro-Latin@ Reader, History and Culture in the United States. Eds. Miriam Jimenez-Román and Juan Flores. Duke University Press. Durham, NC.
2011. Author/Essayist, “A Life’s Spiral: Journeys of an Afro-Latina Activist,” in Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora. Eds. Marta Moreno Vega, Marinives Alba, Yvette Modestin. Arte Público Press, Houston, TX.
- HITS 149AD. Blackness in Latin America, An Introduction.
- HIST 153 Honor, Race, and Gender in the Americas
- HIST 151R Latin America Research Seminar
- HIST 8 Introduction to the History of Latin America
- Independent courses
Honors and Professional Activities:
- 2020-2021 UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship
- 2020-2021 UC Faculty Career Development Award
- 2020-2021 John Carter Brown Library – Center for New World Comparative Studies Fellowship-African Diaspora (short-term),
- 2016-2017 CUNY Graduate Center-Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas & the Caribbean Post-Doctoral Fellowship
- 2013 New York University Margaret Brown Dissertation Fellowship
- 2012 Ford Foundation Dissertation Writing Fellowship
- 2012 NYU Warren Dean Fellowship for Dissertation Work in Latin American Studies.
I am a very curious person. I love art, film, music. I love dancing salsa, merengue, Kompá, Kizomba, African music, and any type of African derived music. I love good food, no boundaries attached! I like to read poetry. In the past, I have work with clay (stoneware and terracotta), which I hope I retake one day. I have also explored jewelry making through wire bending, welding, and stoneware. In the past, I have exhibited and sold some of my documentary photographs.