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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 25, 2006

'Afro-Caribbean Legacies: Memory, Ritual, Resistance' Theme Of Series

The Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program (CDA), which is sponsored by University of Iowa International Programs, will kick off its spring lecture and performance series using the umbrella theme, "Afro-Caribbean Legacies: Memory, Ritual, Resistance."

The first event in the series is a lecture titled "`Dessalines Toro d'Haiti:' The Archive of Voudou," Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gerber Lounge of the English-Philosophy Building (EPB) on the UI campus. The lecture will be given by Laurent Dubois, associate professor of history at Michigan State University. A faculty commentary will follow each lecture.

In his book, "Avengers of the New World - The Story of the Haitian Revolution," Dubois examined how the 1791 revolution marked the end of colonialism and slavery in the New World. This talk will delve further into the history of the Haitian revolution, demonstrating how voodoo songs served as an archive or cultural memory of this event and thus as an important Afro-Caribbean legacy.  

The series of six lectures and performances, which are free and open to the public, will explore Afro-Caribbean legacies. Its focus is how the history of slavery has shaped Afro-Caribbean culture, and on how literature, art, music and dance exorcise the past at various stages of Caribbean culture. These cultural practices point to new reformulations of Caribbean cultural identity, explained CDA Director Adriana Méndez Rodenas.

The talks in the series delve into the first slave narrative written in 19th-century Cuba, the silencing of slavery in contemporary Puerto Rico and the rich legacy of Afro-Cuban folklore and art left by anthropologist Lydia Cabrera and avant-garde artist Wilfredo Lam. A graduate student colloquium will further explore Afro-Caribbean topics; particularly, the poetry of negrismo and négritude in the Hispanic and Francophone Caribbean, and Cuban and Jamaican cultural practices in contemporary Luanda.

"These talks direct our attention to the vibrant tradition of Afro-Caribbean culture. Because the Caribbean is a culture of performance, the series will close with a final performance by the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble, a group of percussion and dance faculty and students recuperating the rich legacy of Afro-Cuban folklore, dance, and ritual," Rodenas said.

Following is the rest of the spring CDA schedule:

Monday, Feb 20:  4 p.m., Gerber Lounge, EPB

Diana K. Davies, an adjunct assistant professor in and director of UI International Programs, will speak on "Horse-headed Woman: The Hybrid Art of Lydia Cabrera and Wilfredo Lam."

Wednesday, March 8: 2 p.m., Gerber Lounge

Graduate Student Colloquium with Beatriz Rodríguez Feo, ABD, Department of Anthropology - "Cuban and Jamaican Cultural Practices in Contemporary Luanda," Mamadou Badiane, ABD, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, will discuss "The Poetics of Negrismo and Négritude"

Monday, April 3: 4 p.m., Gerber Lounge, EPB

José Gomariz, assistant professor from Florida State University, will discuss, "Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros 'El Lugareño': Modernity, Slavery, and Enlightenment in 19th-Century Cuba."

Tuesday, April 4: 4 p.m., Phillips Hall Room No. 315

José Gomariz, assistant professor from Florida State University, will discuss "The Voice of the Slave: Juan Francisco Manzano's Poetics of Resistance."

Monday, April 17: 4 p.m.  Gerber Lounge, EPB

Isar P. Godreau, visiting professor in the UI Department of Anthropology; researcher and director, Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, will discuss "Silencing Slavery in Puerto Rico: Contemporary Representations of African Heritage in Elementary Education."

A final performance will be given by the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble, UI Department of Dance and School of Music, which will be Thursday, April 27, starting at noon in the Space/Place Theatre in the North Hall on the UI campus.

Individuals of all abilities are welcome to attend the film and lecture series. To arrange for special accommodations or to find out more about the events, contact Rodenas at 319-335-2230 or

This program has been made possible through the support of International Programs, and the UI Departments of Spanish and Portuguese and History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program is an interdisciplinary unit including faculty and graduate students who study the cultures, history, and societies of the Caribbean and Brazil. The focus of the group is the understanding of the Caribbean as a social-cultural area linked by a common history of plantation, colonization, and slavery, and by the role played by the Caribbean region in a broader transatlantic economy. A second area of focus is Caribbean transnational migrations in the U.S., Europe, and other contexts.   Diaspora is the unifying concept linking the phenomena of mass displacements of Caribbean populations throughout its history, from early colonization to the present-day.

The CDA is affiliated with UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Adriana Méndez Rodenas, 319-335-2230,; Writer: Lois J. Gray