Sovereign Joy: Afro-Mexican Kings and Queens, 1539-1640

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Mexico, Monographs, Religion on 2022-05-16 22:13Z by Steven

Sovereign Joy: Afro-Mexican Kings and Queens, 1539-1640

Cambridge University Press
August 2022
Hardback ISBN: 9781316514382
eBook ISBN: 9781009086905

Miguel A. Valerio, Assistant Professor of Spanish
Washington University, St Louis, Missouri

Sovereign Joy explores the performance of festive black kings and queens among Afro-Mexicans between 1539 and 1640. This fascinating study illustrates how the first African and Afro-creole people in colonial Mexico transformed their ancestral culture into a shared identity among Afro-Mexicans, with particular focus on how public festival participation expressed their culture and subjectivities, as well as redefined their colonial condition and social standing. By analyzing this hitherto understudied aspect of Afro-Mexican Catholic confraternities in both literary texts and visual culture, Miguel A. Valerio teases out the deeply ambivalent and contradictory meanings behind these public processions and festivities that often re-inscribed structures of race and hierarchy. Were they markers of Catholic subjecthood, and what sort of corporate structures did they create to project standing and respectability? Sovereign Joy examines many of these possibilities, and in the process highlights the central place occupied by Africans and their descendants in colonial culture. Through performance, Afro-Mexicans affirmed their being: the sovereignty of joy, and the joy of sovereignty.

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction: Sovereign Joy
  • 1. ‘With their king and queen’: Early Colonial Mexico, the Origins of Festive Black Kings and Queens, and the Birth of the Black Atlantic
  • 2. ‘Rebel Black Kings (and Queens)’?: Race, Colonial Psychosis, and Afro-Mexican Kings and Queens
  • 3. ‘Savage Kings’ and Baroque Festival Culture: Afro-Mexicans in the Celebration of the Beatification of Ignatius of Loyola
  • 4. ‘Black and Beautiful’: Afro-Mexican Women Performing Creole Identity
  • Conclusion: Where did the black court go?
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Women on 2022-04-21 17:01Z by Steven

The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico

Yale University Press
2022-04-12
296 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
9 b/w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300258066

Danielle Terrazas Williams, Lecturer in the School of History
University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

A restoration of the agency and influence of free African-descended women in colonial Mexico through their traces in archives

The Capital of Free Women examines how African-descended women strove for dignity in seventeenth-century Mexico. Free women in central Veracruz, sometimes just one generation removed from slavery, purchased land, ran businesses, managed intergenerational wealth, and owned slaves of African descent. Drawing from archives in Mexico, Spain, and Italy, Danielle Terrazas Williams explores the lives of African-descended women across the economic spectrum, evaluates their elite sensibilities, and challenges notions of race and class in the colonial period.

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Jennifer A. Jones: Afro-Mexicans, Migration, and the Permutations of Race

Posted in Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2022-03-25 21:21Z by Steven

Jennifer A. Jones: Afro-Mexicans, Migration, and the Permutations of Race

Dialogues in Afrolatinidad
Season 1, Episode 3
2021-05-31

Michele Reid-Vazquez, Host and Associate Professor
Department of Africana Studies
University of Pittsburgh

Dialogues in Afrolatinidad explores history, culture, and contemporary issues in Afro-Latin America and U.S.-Afro-Latinx communities. The podcast features interviews with scholars, writers, educators, artists, and community leaders who share their passion for Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latinx Studies, the significance of their intellectual, creative, or community engagement, and resources for learning more.

This episode features Dr. Jennifer A. Jones, a native of Chicago and a sociologist specializing in contemporary transnational Afro-Mexican studies. She discusses the way race is made in Latin America through her experiences in both Cuba and Mexico, as well as the broader impact of space, politics, and mobility on racial constructions throughout the U.S. She also highlights her recent book, The Browning of the New South, which explores blackness and anti-blackness in Mexico, the current migration of Afro-Mexicans to North Carolina, and their reformulations of race in the U.S. South.

Listen to the episode (00:34:06) here. Download the episode here.

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Finding Afro-Mexico: Race and Nation after the Revolution

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Slavery on 2021-09-14 02:15Z by Steven

Finding Afro-Mexico: Race and Nation after the Revolution

Cambridge University Press
June 2020
348 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9781108493017
Paperback ISBN: 9781108730310
eBook ISBN: 9781108639521

Theodore W. Cohen, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois

Highlights

  • Bridges the rich historical literature on slavery and race in the colonial period with scholarship on the contemporary politics of Blackness
  • Traces the long history of African-American intellectual engagements with Mexico
  • Contributes to the expanding literature on the politics of racial comparison and connection along sub-national, national, and transnational lines

In 2015, the Mexican state counted how many of its citizens identified as Afro-Mexican for the first time since independence. Finding Afro-Mexico reveals the transnational interdisciplinary histories that led to this celebrated reformulation of Mexican national identity. It traces the Mexican, African American, and Cuban writers, poets, anthropologists, artists, composers, historians, and archaeologists who integrated Mexican history, culture, and society into the African Diaspora after the Revolution of 1910. Theodore W. Cohen persuasively shows how these intellectuals rejected the nineteenth-century racial paradigms that heralded black disappearance when they made blackness visible first in Mexican culture and then in post-revolutionary society. Drawing from more than twenty different archives across the Americas, this cultural and intellectual history of black visibility, invisibility, and community-formation questions the racial, cultural, and political dimensions of Mexican history and Afro-diasporic thought.

Awards

  • Co-winner, 2021 Howard F. Cline Book Prize in Mexican History, Latin American Studies Association
  • Honorable Mention, 2021 Best Book Award in the Social Sciences, Mexico Section, Latin American Studies Association

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures and Maps
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Part I. Making Blackness Mexican, 1810-1940s
    • Introduction
    • 1. Black Disappearance
    • 2. Marxism and Colonial Blackness
    • 3. Making Blackness Transational
  • Part II. Finding Afro-Mexico, 1940s-2015
    • 4. Looking Back to Africa
    • 5. Africanizing “La bamba”
    • 6. Caribbean Blackness
    • 7. The Black Body in Mexico
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Why This Mexican Village Celebrates Juneteenth

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2021-06-20 18:52Z by Steven

Why This Mexican Village Celebrates Juneteenth

Texas Monthly
2019-06-19

Wes Ferguson


Descendants of the Negro Mascogo people of northern Mexico gather to celebrate Juneteenth in the village of Nacimiento de los Negros. Photograph by Wes Ferguson

Descendants of slaves who escaped across the southern border observe Texas’s emancipation holiday with their own unique traditions.

The morning before Juneteenth, Corina Harrington and her sister Miriam Torralba left San Antonio shortly after sunrise and headed south to Mexico, retracing a portion of the same route their African American ancestors followed in 1850 when they escaped slavery in the United States and fled to freedom south of the border.

The sisters arrived around midday at their father’s house in the ranching village of Nacimiento de los Negros in Coahuila, about three hours south of Eagle Pass. As afternoon drifted toward evening, the blue silhouettes of the Sierra Madres were all but obscured by clouds, as siblings, cousins, extended family members, and childhood friends kept arriving in twos, threes, or fours. They strolled over to the cool and swift Río Sabinas to swim in water as clear as any Hill Country stream. They politely tasted the dried and shredded meat of a mountain lion that one of their cousins shot on their dad’s nearby goat ranch, and they laughed and reminisced and readied for one of the most important days of the year in a village whose name literally means “Birth of the Blacks.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Taxing Blackness: Free Afromexican Tribute in Bourbon New Spain

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2019-03-25 13:59Z by Steven

Taxing Blackness: Free Afromexican Tribute in Bourbon New Spain

University of Alabama Press
February 2019
312 pages
9 B&W figures / 3 maps / 23 tables
Trade Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8173-2007-2
eBook ISBN: 978-0-8173-9220-8

Norah L. A. Gharala, Colonial Latin Americanist and Assistant Professor of World History
Georgian Court University, Lakewood, New Jersey

A definitive analysis of the most successful tribute system in the Americas as applied to Afromexicans

During the eighteenth century, hundreds of thousands of free descendants of Africans in Mexico faced a highly specific obligation to the Spanish crown, a tax based on their genealogy and status. This royal tribute symbolized imperial loyalties and social hierarchies. As the number of free people of color soared, this tax became a reliable source of revenue for the crown as well as a signal that colonial officials and ordinary people referenced to define and debate the nature of blackness.

Taxing Blackness:Free Afromexican Tribute in Bourbon New Spain examines the experiences of Afromexicans and this tribute to explore the meanings of race, political loyalty, and legal privileges within the Spanish colonial regime. Norah L. A. Gharala focuses on both the mechanisms officials used to define the status of free people of African descent and the responses of free Afromexicans to these categories and strategies. This study spans the eighteenth century and focuses on a single institution to offer readers a closer look at the place of Afromexican individuals in Bourbon New Spain, which was the most profitable and populous colony of the Spanish Atlantic.

As taxable subjects, many Afromexicans were deeply connected to the colonial regime and ongoing debates about how taxpayers should be defined, whether in terms of reputation or physical appearance. Gharala shows the profound ambivalence, and often hostility, that free people of African descent faced as they navigated a regime that simultaneously labeled them sources of tax revenue and dangerous vagabonds. Some free Afromexicans paid tribute to affirm their belonging and community ties. Others contested what they saw as a shameful imposition that could harm their families for generations. The microhistory includes numerous anecdotes from specific cases and people, bringing their history alive, resulting in a wealth of rural and urban, gender, and family insight.

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Mexico’s overlooked black communities are given a voice in this social realist drama

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Videos on 2018-08-03 01:45Z by Steven

Mexico’s overlooked black communities are given a voice in this social realist drama

Afropunk
2018-08-01

Eye Candy


LA NEGRADA trailer from TIRISIA CINE on Vimeo.

A project by Mexican filmmaker Jorge Pérez Solano, “La Negrada” is a social realist drama that examines an overlooked sector of Mexico’s populace, its Black people, which include descendants of enslaved people brought to Mexico, among others. According to Variety, this is the first fictional film about Afro-Mexicans.

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“We Are Not Used to People Thinking We Are Beautiful”

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico on 2017-06-08 00:49Z by Steven

“We Are Not Used to People Thinking We Are Beautiful”

The New Yorker
2017-06-02

Jonathan Blitzer


Photograph by Cécile Smetana Baudier

It was a toothache that brought the Franco-Danish photographer Cécile Smetana Baudier to Costa Chica, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. She was in Oaxaca at the time, for a project on women’s fashion, when she visited a dentist with a special reputation among cash-strapped local photographers. He accepted payment in the form of photographs. His waiting room, in Oaxaca City, was like a gallery, with framed images along the walls and piles of art books cascading over tables. There, just before getting a molar pulled, Baudier came across a series of photos of reedy men with fishing rods and nets, lolling in boats and along the banks of lagoons. She was surprised, given the fact that the men were black, to learn that the photographs had been taken in Mexico, in the remote southern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. It was the first time she had ever seen images of Afro-Mexicans, and she decided to try to contribute some of her own. A few weeks later, she set out for El Azufre—a secluded coastal fishing village with a large Afro-Mexican population—where she spent five weeks living in a tent pitched on the front yard of an acquaintance’s house.

The African presence in Mexico dates back to the early sixteenth century, when Spanish conquistadors and colonialists arrived; with them came the slave trade. As many as two hundred and fifty thousand African slaves were transported Mexico, according to academic estimates*. At the turn of the nineteenth century, ten per cent of the population had African origins, but Mexican independence ignited a new national dialogue that downplayed race and elevated, instead, the idea of common citizenship. Even though some of the country’s most iconic freedom fighters and early politicians had African roots, their accomplishments fed a celebration of the broader mestizo culture. The history of Afro-Mexicans ever since has been one of erasure and marginalization. Today, there are 1.4 million citizens of African descent in Mexico, but the government did not recognize them officially until a 2015 census count…

Read the entire article here.

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Exploring Mexico’s African Heritage with Dr. Marco Polo Hernández

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2017-04-29 22:38Z by Steven

Exploring Mexico’s African Heritage with Dr. Marco Polo Hernández

Los Afro-Latinos: A Blog Following the Afro-Latino Experience
2012-12-09

Nicolle Morales Kern

“We need to look deeper into our Africanness to understand ourselves,” says Dr. Marco Polo Hernández, a professor of Spanish and Afro-Hispanic studies at North Carolina Central University, in a recent phone interview. Mexico’s African heritage is not normally discussed or highlighted in conversation, or even education. But, Dr. Hernández, who holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic and Italian Studies from the University of British Columbia, a M.A. in Spanish Language and Peninsular and Latin American literatures, and a B.A. in General Studies & Spanish language and literatures from Portland State University, says that is slowly starting to change.

Growing up in Mexico City, Dr. Marco Polo Hernández Cuevas was not raised in a household or a society that highlighted the African influence on Mexico. While Father José María Morelos, who led the Independence movement from 1811 to 1815, is talked about, his African heritage is not. In school, everyone was told that they were mestizos (racially mixed), as most Latinos believe they are because the country’s African roots are rarely discussed…

Read the entire article here.

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México’s Nobodies: The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Religion, Women on 2017-03-26 21:35Z by Steven

México’s Nobodies: The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women

State University of New York Press
February 2017
350 pages
Hardcover ISBN13: 978-1-4384-6357-5

B. Christine Arce, Assistant Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture
University of Miami, Miami, Florida

2016 Victoria Urbano Critical Monograph Book Prize, presented by the International Association of Hispanic Feminine Literature and Culture

Analyzes cultural materials that grapple with gender and blackness to revise traditional interpretations of Mexicanness.

México’s Nobodies examines two key figures in Mexican history that have remained anonymous despite their proliferation in the arts: the soldadera and the figure of the mulata. B. Christine Arce unravels the stunning paradox evident in the simultaneous erasure (in official circles) and ongoing fascination (in the popular imagination) with the nameless people who both define and fall outside of traditional norms of national identity. The book traces the legacy of these extraordinary figures in popular histories and legends, the Inquisition, ballads such as “La Adelita” and “La Cucaracha,” iconic performers like Toña la Negra, and musical genres such as the son jarocho and danzón. This study is the first of its kind to draw attention to art’s crucial role in bearing witness to the rich heritage of blacks and women in contemporary México.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Paradox of Invisibility
  • Part I: Entre Adelitas y Cucarachas: The Soldadera as Trope in the Mexican Revolution
    • 1. Soldaderas and the Making of Revolutionary Spaces
    • 2. The Many Faces of the Soldadera and the Adelita Complex
    • 3. Beyond the “Custom of Her Sex and Country”
  • Part II: The Blacks in the Closet
    • 4. Black Magic and the Inquisition: The Legend of La Mulata de Córdoba and the Case of Antonia de Soto
    • 5. “Dios pinta como quiere”: Blackness and Redress in Mexican Golden Age Film
    • 6. The Music of the Afro-Mexican Universe and the Dialectics of Son
  • Conclusion: To Be Expressed Otherwise
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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