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Foreword A New Hemispheric Blackness When President GeorgeW.Bush asked Fernando Henrique Cardoso,then president of Brazil,“Do you have blacks too?”(Pedreira 2002),1 he was reflecting more than his own provincialism. He was expressing the ignorance of the vast majority of the U.S. population about Afro-Latin America. How many North Americans know that Brazil has the second-highest black population of any country in the world? How many know that of the approximately 15 million Africans who survived the tortures of the Atlantic slave trade, roughly 85 percent were transported to Latin America and the Caribbean (Curtin 1972) and only about 15 percent arrived alive in the North American colonies and early United States? How many North Americans know of the vast contributions Afro-Latin Americans have made to the economic, political, and cultural development of the modern world? Economically, Afro-Latinos were the world’s first industrial workers, toiling in the engenhos (sugar factories) of the Brazilian Recôncavo, the Haitian moulins (James [1963] 1989), and the Cuban ingenios (Moreno Fraginals 1976) to establish sugar as the world’s most extensively traded international commodity (Mintz 1985). Afro-Latinos were the gold miners, coffee pickers, and plantation workers who made the circulation of capital possible in the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Indeed, Afro-Latino workers also played a major role as the age of import-substitution industrialization dawned in Latin America in the 1930s, especially in São Paulo but in other Latin American metropoles as well (Andrews 1991; see also Andrews 2004). How many are aware of the political centrality of Afro-Latin slave revolutions in shaping not only black freedom movements around the world but also in inventing modern anticolonialism and indeed modern democracy and popular sovereignty?2 The first modern anti-imperial movements occurred throughout theWestern Hemisphere and depended in large measure on the armed struggles of emancipated (and self-emancipated) slaves of African descent.3 Whole regions of Latin America and the Caribbean were liberated territory occupied by cimarrones, maroons, or quilombo communities, quasi–nation-states comprised x  Foreword of people who had emancipated themselves from colonial slavery and defended themselves by force of arms (Price 1996). Many were crushed, of course, but some survived into the era of emancipation. Some continue even today. And how many recognize the importance of Afro-Latin culture, notably of the treasure-house of African music that has shaped the blues, reggae, salsa, merengue, samba, and cumbia? Without Afro-Latinidad, would we even have jazz, hip-hop, or rock and roll? Would we have the “primitivism” of Picasso, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, or the sculptures of Giacometti? These all-too-brief points suggest the tremendous importance of Comparative Perspectives on Afro-Latin America, which is more than a title for the vital book you hold in your hands. For the themes addressed in that title contribute in a central way to the new understanding of race and racism that is developing today. This text takes its place within a growing literature of new racial studies. Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, the work collected here signals a shift in race scholarship that is long overdue: from the world’s North to its South, from the limited focus of American studies to something that is not just hemispheric but global, from the disciplinary confinement of various social sciences and humanities fields to a fully multidisciplinary and historically attuned cultural studies and (once again) a new racial studies. Perhaps most important, the work collected here honors the vast legacy of freedom struggles thatAfricandescended people continue to present to the world. TheAtlantic slavery system produced a contradictory legacy.In the main it was a bottomless abyss of human horror,a taker of numberless souls,a shoah or nakba all its own. But it was also the antithesis of genocidal disaster. The predation of Africa and the framework of “blackness” that were the outcomes of European imperialism and the Atlantic slavery system also gave rise to modernity (Gilroy 1993), to revolutionary self-activity, and to the demand for a universal popular sovereignty that is shared in a broad sense by all the wretched of the earth. So blackness in the Western Hemisphere has a contradictory valence, both in the historical past and in the present day: the Africanizing of the Western Hemisphere was both deracinating (that is, it dug up African peoples from their roots) and radicalizing (that is, it permitted or forced them to dig deep new...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813042695
Related ISBN
9780813037561
MARC Record
OCLC
793166733
Pages
382
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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