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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 2, 2007

Spring Lecture Series Examines Caribbean Cultures' Transition To Modernity

The University of Iowa Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program (CDA) will kick off its spring 2007 lecture and performance series, "Caribbean Discourses and Contrapuntal Modernity," at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5 with a faculty colloquium in the International Programs (IP) Commons, 1117 University Capitol Centre (UCC).

The colloquium will be a presentation of books from "Editions l'Harmattan" by two UI professors, Anny Dominique Curtius, assistant professor in the Department of French and Italian, and Adriana Méndez Rodenas, CDA director and professor in the UI Department of Spanish and    Portuguese. Curtius will present "Symbiotic Memory: Religious Manifestations in Caribbean Literatures." Méndez Rodenas will present "La Comtesse Merlin: A Cuban Family Romance and Abolitionist Discourse."

The series of lectures and performances, which are free and open to the public, will explore the relationship between Caribbean cultures and a conflicted transition to modernity.

"Due to the many historical forces that have shaped the Caribbean -- European colonization, the plantation system, slavery, a troubled nationalism -- its island nations are caught between traditional forms of life and foreign influences," Méndez Rodenas said. "Inspired by anthropologist Fernando Ortiz's notion of a 'Cuban Counterpoint,' the series probes the types of cultural discourses that have emerged in the region as a 'contrapuntal modernity,' a continued tension between past and present."

The series continues through the spring 2007 semester, including several events in February.

The UI Department of French and Italian, along with CDA, African Studies Program, the Institute for Cinema and Culture and UI Department of English, will host Ken Harrow, from the Department of English, Michigan State University, who will give two public presentations:

4 to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 315 Phillips Hall

"Before and After: The Attempt at a Radical Critique of African Cinema: the Attempt at an Answer."

6 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 1117 UCC

A screening of Hubert Sauper's "Darwin's Nightmare," followed by a presentation by Harrow, "Death and the Maidens:  22 Reflections on Sauper's 'Darwin's Nightmare,' Ten Reflections on Jean-Pierre Bekolo's 'Les Saignantes.'"

The final February lecture explores the connection between the African Diasporas and Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean cultures.

3:30 to 5 p.m., Monday, Feb. 26, 1117 UCC

"African American Slave Architecture: Issues and Opportunities," Barbara Mooney, professor in the UI Department of Art and Art History.

The full schedule of events, as well as related events, can be found at

For more information or special accommodations to attend any of these lectures, contact Diana Davies, at 319-335-0371, or

The series is made possible through the support of International Programs.

The Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies Program is an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students who study the history of the Caribbean and Brazil, its diverse cultural and religious practices, and the phenomena of mass migration in and out of the region.

CDA is part of International Programs, which enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

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

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-384-0007,; Program: Diana Davies, 319-335-0371,; Writer: Kelli Andresen.