Spanish and Portuguese ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-16-2018


This project explores how the historical contexts of the Hispanic Caribbean, including the regions of the Circum-Caribbean and the Caribbean Diasporas in the United States, have sustained dominant racial and nationalist ideologies that continue to silence or negate the identity of Afro-Caribbean subjects in national letters. My research focuses on the autobiographical and biographical writing of four Hispanic Afro-Caribbean men: Autobiografía de un esclavo (1840) by Juan Francisco Manzano¾originally published and translated to English in 1840 by Richard R. Madden¾ Klabel (2002) by Víctor Virgilio López García, Down These Mean Streets (1967) by Piri Thomas, and Las criadas de la Habana (2001) by Pedro Pérez Sarduy. I examine how these authors reproduce, negotiate, and contest notions of race and nation through the representation of their identities. Arguably, in the context of a social history of marginalization and the silencing of black voices in national cultures, these autobiographies and biography represent a contestation of modern ideals of national unity as authors call attention to their racial alterity.

At the same time, the multiple positionalities of black writers—along lines of gender, class, and national identity—complicate the process of constituting black identities. In other words, resistance to dominant discourses of race and nation is likely to be articulated through dynamics of fragmented reproduction and strategic negotiations with dominant ideas. This work will examine how autobiographical and biographical narrations encode discursive silences that, when read contextually, can uncover black resistance to or acceptance of oppressive ideologies.

Degree Name

Spanish & Portuguese (PhD)

Level of Degree


Department Name

Spanish and Portuguese

First Committee Member (Chair)

Eleuterio Santiago-Díaz

Second Committee Member

Kathryn McKnight

Third Committee Member

Kimberle Schumock López

Fourth Committee Member

Claude-Rheal Malary




Black Voices, Race and Writing, Silencing, Garífuna, Afro-Caribbean, Latin America, Caribbean Diaspora, U.S. Latino

Document Type