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Let Spirit Speak!

Cultural Journeys through the African Diaspora

Vanessa K. Valdés

Publication Year: 2012

Interdisciplinary celebration of the cultural contributions of members of the African diaspora in the Western hemisphere.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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pp. c-ii

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I would like to thank the following faculty members of the City College of New York, without whose support this conference would not have been possible: Dr. Robert Paaswell, interim president, The City College of New York; Dr. J. Fred Reynolds, former dean of Division of Humanities and Arts; Dr. Geraldine Murphy, acting dean of Division of Humanities and Arts; Dr. Mary Ruth Strzeszewski, deputy dean; Dr. Juan Carlos Mercado, dean of Center for Worker Education; the faculty...

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pp. xi-xii

Within African Diaspora Studies, we see repeated tropes and motifs across languages, literatures, film, dance, music, and philosophy. Paying homage to one’s ancestors, for example, is integral to traditional African culture; this idea is found in the works of African American playwright August Wilson, in the installations of Cuban artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons, in the poetry of Brazilian writer Miriam Alves, certainly in African American choreographer Alvin Ailey’s...

Chapter 1: Invocation: Excerpts from Because When God is too Busy: Haiti, me, and The World

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pp. 1-6

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Chapter 2: From Animal Skin to Oil Drum: African Agency Through the Steelband Movement

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pp. 7-12

Many scholars in recent years have discussed the steelband movement in Trinidad and Tobago in terms of its history and evolution. While it is undeniable that what the steelband art form is today is a result of the contribution of many ethnic communities, the invention and early development of the pan truly lies with those of African descent in Trinidad. These African roots lead back to the animal skin drums, yet fewer scholars have considered the action of drumming and its powerful communicative ...

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Chapter 3: When the Past Becomes [the] Present: Remembering and Writing My Own Ancestral Past

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pp. 13-24

All praise Olodumare, the creator, the ancestors, and the forces in the world the Yoruba call the Orisas.
In the mid-sixteenth century, the father of a fifteen-year-old West African priest delivered Olodumare to slave traders as part of an ebo (sacrifice) that the family and community believed would one day save their culture. After several months in one of the castle-dungeons, she boarded a slave ship bound for Brazil....

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Chapter 4: Racismo en la Cuba contemporánea: documental RAZA (2008)

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pp. 25-30

El tema racial en Cuba, específicamente el racismo contra el negro cubano, no es nada nuevo, ni siquiera después del gran éxito de la Revolución Socialista. La problemática racial, cultural y religiosa empieza a recibir un espacio en las décadas de los setenta y ochenta. Fue El problema negro en Cuba y su solucion difinitiva (1986) de Pedro Serviat quien “brinda una importante información y subraya todo lo que la Revolucion había hecho hasta ese momento en pro de la igualdad racial, pero a la vez...

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Chapter 5: Los Ayudados: The Oral History of a Guapetón

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pp. 31-38

Many Afro-Colombian communities of the Pacific Coast and Cauca were epicenters for esgrima or grima, a martial art utilizing sticks, knives, lances, and particularly the machete. Also known as juego de machete, this dynamic art taught its adepts to defend themselves with extreme corporal dexterity and malicia (cunning). As with the martial arts of China, Afro-Colombians practiced grima in various styles or juegos such as Sombra Caucana, Palo Negro, Costeño, and many others. While they built...

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Chapter 6: Blackness, Music, and (National/Diasporic) Identity in the Colombian Caribbean

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pp. 39-50

Embedded in the Black Atlantic continuum, the Colombian Caribbean has historically posed a challenge to the central government in the process of attaining full control of the national space.1 Costeño worldview, the ideology attached to the population of the Atlantic coast, stands in stark contrast to the vision of the country that Colombians from the interior of the national space have shared. This split brings into focus a national identity in constant tension with the diasporic reality...

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Chapter 7: Ancestry, Art, and Commodity: María Magdalena Campos-Pons’s My Mother Told Me I Am Chinese Series

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pp. 51-56

My Mother Told Me I Am Chinese: Painting Lesson and China Porcelain: My Mother Told Me I Am Chinese, two multimedia works by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, demonstrate the artist’s ongoing inquiry into the amorphous shape of identity and her deepening investigation of the role of individual and collective memory in the construction of history.1 In these works, Campos-Pons explores an aspect of her...

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Chapter 8: A Prescription for Wholeness: Resisting the Discourse of Difficulty to Embrace the Challenge of Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters

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pp. 57-66

Although Toni Cade Bambara’s novel has been widely praised since its initial publication in 1980, The Salt Eaters has also been saddled with what I am calling a discourse of difficulty. A complex narrative structure that defies expected plot conventions; a set of allusion and metaphor sources that ranges the gamut from culture to history to politics to spirituality to gender to race, and all points between and around; an approach ...

Chapter 9: Selections from Kohnjehr Woman

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pp. 67-70

Chapter 10: Poems

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pp. 71-76

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Chapter 11: Caribbean Spaces, Transatlantic Spirit: Violence and Spiritual Reimaginings in the Caribbean

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pp. 77-86

This panel focuses on the question: How do you respond to the violent practices and systems of representation in colonial and neocolonial regimes when, as Fanon makes clear, whatever measures or steps taken by the oppressed, the return, “the results will not or ever be equivalent”? Wretched of the Earth asserts the efficacy of violence in strategies of resistance to systematic violence. Fanon’s program requires reimagining myths and symbols; it rejects European ideology, which, according to Fanon, has ...

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Chapter 12: Poesía, mujer e identidad afro: La presencia femenina y el yo poético de Tambores en la noche

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pp. 87-98

A Jorge Artel, se le reconoce mayormente como el autor de Tambores en la noche. La crítica le ha dado el nombre del poeta negro de Colombia y bajo esta rubrica se lo ha estudiado casi exclusivamente. Sus contemporáneos y críticos debatieron su personalidad literaria entre que si era un poeta negro, mulato, un poeta marino o simplemente un poeta. Aunque el debate sobre raza no es parte de este trabajo quiero señalar que Jorge Artel forma parte de la historia del discurso racial en América Latina...

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Chapter 13: Alaridos de las Baldías: The Role of AfroColombian Poetry in the Creation of a Black Identity in Colombia

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pp. 99-110

This paper stems from independent research conducted during 2009 and 2010. The Ministry of Culture in Colombia declared 2009 as the year of Candelario Obeso and Jorge Artel, the two most recognized AfroColombian poets.1 Their union, though chagrined by some and seen as another way to deemphasize the individual importance of each prolific writer, allows for a more comprehensive understanding of AfroColombian ...

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Chapter 14: Anne Lescot’s and Laurence Magloire’s Des hommes et des dieux: Queering the Haitian Religious Experience

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pp. 111-118

Few men and women pay attention to Blandine as she is walking in the early crowd of street vendors at a vast outdoor market in Port au Prince. Absorbed, she is busy looking for a spot where she can settle her merchandise. Her back is to the camera filming her every gesture, and she wears a gray tote bag on her shoulder. Despite her white jeans, black T-shirt, and a white-and-navy cap turned backward, Blandine’s gender remains vaguely uncertain. Her cap barely hides a short bob of straightened ...

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Chapter 15: Beyond the Battlefield of Institutions: Everyday Abolition from the Antebellum South

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pp. 119-126

Charles Ball, after escaping from slavery and finding freedom in Philadelphia, wrote in his 1846 autobiography that, “the idea of revolution in the condition of the whites and blacks is the cornerstone of the religion of the latter.”1 In this context, the “religion of the latter” was nothing less than revolutionary. Religion and revolution ran through the antebellum south together, twin social forces forged out of a single fire born in the bones of blacks in their flights from the slave-making reality...

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Chapter 16: La autobiografía de la artista en la nada clariceana

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pp. 127-134

Re-escribir la identidad textual es asumir control de quién es uno. Puede durar sólo por un momento, pero cambia, si no la historia política, la historia del arte por haber existido y haber creado arte en cualquiera de sus formas. Este análisis de A paixão segundo G. H. de Clarice Lispector y La nada cotidiana de Zoé Valdés usa las ideas de Lesley Feracho, Sylvia Molloy, y Gregg Horowitz para explorar técnicas autobiográficas y sus implicaciones estéticas y políticas para el arte de las mujeres en América...

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Chapter 17: Where Do We Go from Here? A Call to Action

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pp. 135-136

Thank you all for attending what we hope to be an annual occurrence here at The City College of New York. I am humbled by your participation. For the last three days we have heard papers that discuss a number of aspects of manifestations of the creativity of the African Diaspora. We have heard presenters speak about Colombia and Haiti, about Puerto Rico and Cuba, about Africa itself and the United States. We have had presentations of literary criticism, readings of poetry and fiction, and a ...


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pp. 137-142

Conference Program

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pp. 143-146


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pp. 147-151

E-ISBN-13: 9781438442198
E-ISBN-10: 143844219X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438442174
Print-ISBN-10: 1438442173

Page Count: 161
Publication Year: 2012