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Area and Ethnic Studies > Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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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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Black Writing, Culture, and the State in Latin America

Jerome C. Branche

Imagine the tension that existed between the emerging nations and governments throughout the Latin American world and the cultural life of former enslaved Africans and their descendants. A world of cultural production, in the form of literature, poetry, art, music, and eventually film, would often simultaneously contravene or cooperate with the newly established order of Latin American nations negotiating independence and a new political and cultural balance. In Black Writing, Culture, and the State in Latin America, Jerome Branche presents the reader with the complex landscape of art and literature among Afro-Hispanic and Latin artists. Branche and his contributors describe individuals such as Juan Francisco Manzano, who wrote an antislavery novel in Cuba during the nineteenth century. The reader finds a thriving Afro-Hispanic theatrical presence throughout Latin America and even across the Atlantic. The role of black women in poetry and literature comes to the forefront in the Caribbean, presenting a powerful reminder of the diversity that defines the region.


All too often, the disciplines of film studies, literary criticism, and art history ignore the opportunity to collaborate in a dialogue. Branche and his contributors present a unified approach, however, suggesting that cultural production should not be viewed narrowly, especially when studying the achievements of the Afro-Latin world.

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Blackness in the White Nation

Afro-Uruguay, 1830-2010

George Reid Andrews

Andrews offers a comprehensive history of Afro-Uruguayans from the colonial period to the present. Showing how social and political mobilization is intertwined with candombe, he traces the development of Afro-Uruguayan racial discourse and argues that candombe's evolution as a central part of the nation's culture has not fundamentally helped the cause of racial equality. Incorporating descriptions of his own experiences as a member of a candombe drumming and performance group, Andrews connects the struggles of Afro-Uruguayans to the broader issues of race, culture, gender, and politics throughout Latin America and the African diaspora.

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Blue Coat or Powdered Wig

Free People of Color in Pre-Revolutionary Saint Domingue

Stewart R. King

By the late 1700s, half the free population of Saint Domingue was black. The French Caribbean colony offered a high degree of social, economic, and physical mobility to free people of color. Covering the period 1776-1791, this study offers the most comprehensive portrait to date of Saint Domingue's free black elites on the eve of the colony's transformation into the republic of Haiti.

Stewart R. King identifies two distinctive groups that shared Saint Domingue's free black upper stratum, one consisting of planters and merchants and the other of members of the army and police forces. With the aid of individual and family case studies, King documents how the two groups used different strategies to pursue the common goal of economic and social advancement. Among other aspects, King looks at the rural or urban bases of these groups' networks, their relationships with whites and free blacks of lesser means, and their attitudes toward the acquisition, use, and sale of land, slaves, and other property.

King's main source is the notarial archives of Saint Domingue, whose holdings offer an especially rich glimpse of free black elite life. Because elites were keenly aware of how a bureaucratic paper trail could help cement their status, the archives divulge a wealth of details on personal and public matters.

Blue Coat or Powdered Wig is a vivid portrayal of race relations far from the European centers of colonial power, where the interactions of free blacks and whites were governed as much by practicalities and shared concerns as by the law.

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Blurred Borders

Transnational Migration between the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States

Jorge Duany

In this comprehensive comparative study, Jorge Duany explores how migrants to the United States from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico maintain multiple ties to their countries of origin.

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Bodies and Bones

Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging

Tanya L. Shields

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Bodies, Pleasures, and Passions

Sexual Culture in Contemporary Brazil, Second Edition

Richard G. Parker

Originally published in the early 1990s, Bodies, Pleasures, and Passions quickly became a classic ethnographic study of the social, cultural and historical construction of sexuality and sexual diversity. Drawing on extensive field research and interviews, together with the analysis of historical and literary texts, anthropologist Richard Parker mapped out the multiple cultural systems that structure gender, sexuality, and erotic practices in Brazil, and helped to open up a new wave of social science research on sexuality. Using ethnographic methods focusing on sexual meanings as an alternative to traditional surveys of sexual behavior, Parker argues that sexual life can only be fully understood through an analysis of the cultural logics that shape experience. Drawing on the tradition of interpretive anthropology, he focuses on the diverse sexual scripts that have been articulated in Brazilian culture and examines the often contradictory ways in which these scripts shape the sexual experience of different individuals. He highlights the sexual socialization of children and young people, and the changing sexual realities of adults living in a rapidly changing world. He underlines the ways in which complex cultural forms such as carnaval can be understood as stories that Brazilians tell themselves about themselves and about the meaning of sexuality in contemporary Brazilian life. The 1991 book was the winner of the Ruth Benedict Prize from the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists.

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The Body as Capital

Masculinities in Contemporary Latin American Fiction

Vinodh Venkatesh

Through economic liberalization and the untethering of labor and production markets, masculinity as hegemon has entered a crisis stage. Renegotiated labor and familial orders have triggered a widespread cultural renegotiation of how masculinity operates and is represented. This holds especially true in Latin America.

Addressing this, Vinodh Venkatesh uses contemporary Latin American literature to examine how masculinity is constructed and conceived. The Body as Capital centers socioeconomic and political concerns, anxieties, and paradigms on the male anatomy and on the matrices of masculinities presented in fiction. Developing concepts such as the “market of masculinities” and the “transnational theater of masculinities,” the author explains how contemporary fiction centers the male body and masculine expressions as key components in the relationship between culture, space, and global tensile forces.

Venkatesh includes novels by canonical and newer writers from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Peru, and Chile. He focuses on texts produced after 1990, coinciding with what has popularly been termed the neoliberal experiment. In addition to probing well-known novels such as La fiesta del Chivo and La mujer habitada and their accompanying body of criticism, The Body as Capital defines and examines several masculine tropes that will be of interest to scholars of contemporary Latin American literature and gender studies. Ultimately, Venkatesh argues for a more holistic approximation of discursive gender that will feed into other angles of criticism, forging a new path in the critical debates over gender and sexuality in Latin American writing.

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Book of Salsa

A Chronicle of Urban Music from the Caribbean to New York City

César Miguel Rondón

Salsa is one of the most popular types of music listened to and danced to in the United States. Until now, the single comprehensive history of the music--and the industry that grew up around it, including musicians, performances, styles, movements, and production--was available only in Spanish. This lively translation provides for English-reading and music-loving fans the chance to enjoy César Miguel Rond?n's celebrated ###El libro de la salsa#.

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Border Medicine

A Transcultural History of Mexican American Curanderismo

Brett Hendrickson

Mexican American folk and religious healing, often referred to as curanderismo, has been a vital part of life in the Mexico-U.S. border region for centuries. A hybrid tradition made up primarily of indigenous and Iberian Catholic pharmacopeias, rituals, and notions of the self, curanderismo treats the sick person with a variety of healing modalities including herbal remedies, intercessory prayer, body massage, and energy manipulation. Curanderos, “healers,” embrace a holistic understanding of the patient, including body, soul, and community.
 
Border Medicine examines the ongoing evolution of Mexican American religious healing from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. Illuminating the ways in which curanderismo has had an impact not only on the health and culture of the borderlands but also far beyond, the book tracks its expansion from Mexican American communities to Anglo and multiethnic contexts.While many healers treat Mexican and Mexican American clientele, a significant number of curanderos have worked with patients from other ethnic groups as well, especially those involved in North American metaphysical religions like spiritualism, mesmerism, New Thought, New Age, and energy-based alternative medicines. Hendrickson explores this point of contact as an experience of transcultural exchange.
 
Drawing on historical archives, colonial-era medical texts and accounts, early ethnographies of the region, newspaper articles, memoirs, and contemporary healing guidebooks as well as interviews with contemporary healers, Border Medicine demonstrates the notable and ongoing influence of Mexican Americans on cultural and religious practices in the United States, especially in the American West.

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