Spanish and Portuguese ETDs

Publication Date

9-5-2013

Abstract

In this dissertation, I locate contemporary articulations of afrofeminismo in manifold modes of cultural production including literature, music, visual displays of the body, and digital media. As a point of departure, I examine the development of afrofeminismo in relation to colonial sexual violence in sugar-based economies to explain how colonial dynamics inflect ideologies of blanqueamiento/embranquecimento (racial whitening) and pseudo-scientific racial determinism. In this context, I address representations of the mujer negra (black woman) and the mulata (mulatto woman) in Caribbean and Brazilian cultural discourse. Specifically, I analyze how the discourses around, as well as by, these figures contribute(d) to the (trans)formation of national identities in former slave societies. I subsequently situate afrofeminista epistemology among interrelated transnational discourses of Afro-diasporic female subjectivity. My study brings into focus three geographic areas of concentration. These areas include the Hispanic Caribbean (Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic), Brazil and the diasporic Caribbean communities of the United States. Within these geographic areas, I have identified three dynamic contemporary sites of afrofeminista expression that revise and (re)envision blackness and womanhood in the Latin American and U.S. Latino cultural imaginaries. I posit these arenas as cross-cultural contact zones where symbolic and material expressions of ethno-racial identity and resistance expand third-wave African-American black feminist theory. Yet, afrofeministas also reveal nuanced racialized, gendered subjectivities in response to highly-specific socio-economic and political conditions. My research thus explores the various social, cultural and political mechanisms inextricably linked to the articulation of race, gender, and identity within those Latin American nations who share strong ideological ties to the construct of racial democracy. Furthermore, extrapolating from the Latin American context, I address the porous and highly conflictive networks of racial and national identity emerging from the multiply-positioned subjects of Caribbean diasporic communities in the United States. I argue that afrofeminismo generated organically within Latin American and U.S. Latino revisionist artistic spaces problematizes the idea of mestizaje (racial miscegenation) as a unifying agent of nationalism. Through cultural media, afrofeministas (re)imagine transatlantic slavery as a shared historical memory connecting African women and their descendants through collective structural and psychological conditions.

Degree Name

Spanish & Portuguese (PhD)

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

Spanish and Portuguese

First Advisor

Santiago-Diaz, Eleuterio

First Committee Member (Chair)

Milleret, Margo

Second Committee Member

Lopez, Kimberle

Third Committee Member

Lopez, Nancy

Sponsors

Ford Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara Department of Black Studies

Language

English

Keywords

Afrofeminismo, Afro-Brazilian Literature, African Diaspora, Black Feminism, Blanqueamiento, Nancy Morejon, Cuban Hip-Hop, Miriam Alves, Conceicao Evaristo, Loida Maritza Perez, Junot Diaz, Los Aldeanos, Krudas Cubensi, Anonimo Consejo, Afrodescendiente, Dominican, Afro-Cuban, Hip-Hop Feminism, Afro-Latin@, Ninteenth-Century Caribbean Literature, Race, Gender, Mulata, Mujer Negra, U.S. Latino Literature

Document Type

Dissertation

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