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Area and Ethnic Studies > Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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Beyond the Lettered City Cover

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Beyond the Lettered City

Indigenous Literacies in the Andes

Joanne Rappaport and Tom Cummins

In Beyond the Lettered City, the anthropologist Joanne Rappaport and the art historian Tom Cummins examine the colonial imposition of alphabetic and visual literacy on indigenous groups in the northern Andes. They consider how the Andean peoples received, maintained, and subverted the conventions of Spanish literacy, often combining them with their own traditions. Indigenous Andean communities neither used narrative pictorial representation nor had alphabetic or hieroglyphic literacy before the arrival of the Spaniards. To absorb the conventions of Spanish literacy, they had to engage with European symbolic systems. Doing so altered their worldviews and everyday lives, making alphabetic and visual literacy prime tools of colonial domination. Rappaport and Cummins advocate a broad understanding of literacy, including not only reading and writing, but also interpretations of the spoken word, paintings, wax seals, gestures, and urban design. By analyzing secular and religious notarial manuals and dictionaries, urban architecture, religious images, catechisms and sermons, and the vast corpus of administrative documents produced by the colonial authorities and indigenous scribes, they expand Ángel Rama’s concept of the lettered city to encompass many of those who previously would have been considered the least literate.

Beyond the Page Cover

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Beyond the Page

Poetry and Performance in Spanish America

Jill S. Kuhnheim

Poetry began as a spoken art and remains one to this day, but readers tend to view the poem on the page as an impenetrable artifact. This book examines the performance of poetry to show how far beyond the page it can travel. Exploring a range of performances from early twentieth-century recitations to twenty-first-century film, CDs, and Internet renditions, Beyond the Page offers analytic tools to chart poetry beyond printed texts.

Jill S. Kuhnheim, looking at poetry and performance in Spanish America over time, has organized the book to begin with the early twentieth century and arrive at the present day. She includes noteworthy poets and artists such as José Martí, Luis Palés Matos, Eusebia Cosme, Nicomedes Santa Cruz, Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo, and Nicolás Guillén, as well as very recent artists whose performance work is not as well known. Offering fresh historical material and analysis, the author illuminates the relationship between popular and elite cultural activity in Spanish America and reshapes our awareness of the cultural work poetry has done in the past and may do in the future, particularly given the wide array of technological possibilities. The author takes a broad view of American cultural production and creates a dialogue with events and criticism from the United States as well as from Spanish American traditions.

Oral and written elements in poetry are complementary, says Kuhnheim, not in opposition, and they may reach different audiences. As poetry enjoys a revival with modern media, performance is part of the new platform it spans, widening the kind of audience and expanding potential meanings.

Beyond the Page will appeal to readers with an interest in poetry and performance, and in how poetry circulates beyond the page. With an international perspective and dynamic synthesis, the book offers an innovative methodology and theoretical model for humanists beyond the immediate field, reaching out to readers interested in the intersection between poetry and identity or the juncture of popular-elite and oral-written cultures.

Beyond Wari Walls Cover

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Beyond Wari Walls

Regional Perspectives on Middle Horizon Peru

Edited by Justin Jennings

The scholars whose work is assembled here attempt to better understand the nature of Wari by examining its impact beyond Wari walls. By studying Wari from a village in Cuzco, a water shrine in Huamachuco, or a compound on the Central Coast, these authors provide us with information that cannot be gleaned from either digs around the city of Huari or work at the major Wari installations in the periphery. This book provides no definitive answers to the Wari phenomena, but it contributes to broader debates about interregional influences and interaction during the emergence of early cities and states throughout the world.

Beyond Windrush Cover

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Beyond Windrush

Rethinking Postwar Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Edited by J. Dillon Brown and Leah Reade Rosenberg

This edited collection challenges a long sacrosanct paradigm. Since the establishment of Caribbean literary studies, scholars have exalted an elite cohort of émigré novelists based in postwar London, a group often referred to as “the Windrush writers” in tribute to the SS Empire Windrush, whose 1948 voyage from Jamaica inaugurated large-scale Caribbean migration to London. In critical accounts this group is typically reduced to the canonical troika of V. S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Sam Selvon, effectively treating these three authors as the tradition’s founding fathers. These “founders” have been properly celebrated for producing a complex, anticolonial, nationalist literature. However, their canonization has obscured the great diversity of postwar Caribbean writers, producing an enduring but narrow definition of West Indian literature.

Beyond Windrush stands out as the first book to reexamine and redefine the writing of this crucial era. Its fourteen original essays make clear that in the 1950s there was already a wide spectrum of West Indian men and women—Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and white-creole—who were writing, publishing, and even painting. Many lived in the Caribbean and North America, rather than London. Moreover, these writers addressed subjects overlooked in the more conventionally conceived canon, including topics such as queer sexuality and the environment. This collection offers new readings of canonical authors (Lamming, Roger Mais, and Andrew Salkey); hitherto marginalized authors (Ismith Khan, Elma Napier, and John Hearne); and commonly ignored genres (memoir, short stories, and journalism).

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The Black Carib Wars

Freedom, Survival, and the Making of the Garifuna

Christopher Taylor

In The Black Carib Wars, Christopher Taylor offers the most thoroughly researched history of the struggle of the Garifuna people to preserve their freedom on the island of St. Vincent.

Today, thousands of Garifuna people live in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the United States, preserving their unique culture and speaking a language that directly descends from that spoken in the Caribbean at the time of Columbus. All trace their origins back to St. Vincent where their ancestors were native Carib Indians and shipwrecked or runaway West African slaves--hence the name by which they were known to French and British colonialists: Black Caribs.

In the 1600s they encountered Europeans as adversaries and allies. But from the early 1700s, white people, particularly the French, began to settle on St. Vincent. The treaty of Paris in 1763 handed the island to the British who wanted the Black Caribs' land to grow sugar. Conflict was inevitable, and in a series of bloody wars punctuated by uneasy peace the Black Caribs took on the might of the British Empire. Over decades leaders such as Tourouya, Bigot, and Chatoyer organized the resistance of a society which had no central authority but united against the external threat. Finally, abandoned by their French allies, they were defeated, and the survivors deported to Central America in 1797.

The Black Carib Wars draws on extensive research in Britain, France, and St. Vincent to offer a compelling narrative of the formative years of the Garifuna people.

A Black corps d'élite Cover

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A Black corps d'élite

an Egyptian Sudanese conscript battalion with the French Army in Mexico, 1863-1867, and its survivors in subsequent African history

Richard Leslie. Hill

For several years, the armies of Napoleon III deployed some 450 Muslim Sudanese slave soldiers in Veracruz, the port of Mexico City. As in the other case of Western hemisphere military slavery (the West India Regiments, a British unit in existence 1795-1815), the Sudanese were imported from Africa in the hopes that they would better survive the tropical diseases that so terribly afflicted European soldiers. In both cases, the Africans did indeed fulfill these expectations. The mixture of cultures embodied by this event has piqued the interest of several historians, so it is by no means unknown. Hill and Hogg provide a particularly thorough, if unimaginative, account of this exotic interlude, explaining its background, looking in detail at the battle record in Mexico, and figuring out who exactly made up the battalion. Much in their account is odd and interesting, for example, the Sudanese superiority to Austrian troops and their festive nine-day spree in Paris on the emperor's tab. The authors also assess the episode's longer-term impact on the Sudan, showing that the veterans of Mexico, having learnt much from their extended exposure to French military practices, rose quickly in the ranks, then taught these methods to others.


Black in Latin America Cover

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Black in Latin America

Henry Louis Gates Jr., 0, 0

Black Labor Migration in Caribbean Guatemala, 1882–1923 Cover

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Black Labor Migration in Caribbean Guatemala, 1882–1923

Frederick Douglass Opie

In the late nineteenth century, many Central American governments and countries sought to fill low-paying jobs and develop their economies by recruiting black American and West Indian laborers. Frederick Opie offers a revisionist interpretation of these workers, who were often depicted as simple victims with little, if any, enduring legacy.

The Guatemalan government sought to build an extensive railroad system in the 1880s, and actively recruited foreign labor. For poor workers of African descent, immigrating to Guatemala was seen as an opportunity to improve their lives and escape from the racism of the Jim Crow U.S. South and the French and British colonial Caribbean.

Using primary and secondary sources as well as ethnographic data, Opie details the struggles of these workers who were ultimately inspired to organize by the ideas of Marcus Garvey. Regularly suffering class- and race-based attacks and persecution, black laborers frequently met such attacks with resistance. Their leverage--being able to shut down the railroad--was crucially important to the revolutionary movements in 1897 and 1920.

Black Labor, White Sugar Cover

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Black Labor, White Sugar

Caribbean Braceros and Their Struggle for Power in the Cuban Sugar Industry

Philip A. Howard

Early in the twentieth century, the Cuban sugarcane industry faced a labor crisis when Cuban and European workers balked at the inhumane conditions they endured in the cane fields. Rather than reforming their practices, sugar companies gained permission from the Cuban government to import thousands of black workers from other Caribbean colonies, primarily Haiti and Jamaica. Black Labor, White Sugar illuminates the story of these immigrants, their exploitation by the sugarcane companies, and the strategies they used to fight back.

Philip A. Howard traces the socioeconomic and political circumstances in Haiti and Jamaica that led men to leave their homelands to cut, load, and haul sugarcane in Cuba. Once there, the field workers, or braceros, were subject to marginalization and even violence from the sugar companies, which used structures of race, ethnicity, color, and class to subjugate these laborers. Howard argues that braceros drew on their cultural identities-from concepts of home and family to spiritual worldviews-to interpret and contest their experiences in Cuba. They also fought against their exploitation in more overt ways. As labor conditions worsened in response to falling sugar prices, the principles of anarcho-syndicalism converged with the Pan-African philosophy of Marcus Garvey to foster the evolution of a protest culture among black Caribbean laborers. By the mid-1920s, this identity encouraged many braceros to participate in strikes that sought to improve wages as well as living and working conditions.

The first full-length exploration of Haitian and Jamaican workers in the Cuban sugarcane industry, Black Labor, White Sugar examines the industry's abuse of thousands of black Caribbean immigrants, and the braceros' answering struggle for power and self-definition.

Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic Cover

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Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic

Melina Pappademos

While it was not until 1871 that slavery in Cuba was finally abolished, African-descended people had high hopes for legal, social, and economic advancement as the republican period started. Pappademos analyzes the racial politics and culture of black civic and political activists during an era fraught with successive political and economic crises.

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