CFP: Panel: Afro-Latino and Afro-Hispanic Literature and Classics
American Philological Association January 2014
“…I am a man and in that sense the Peloponnesian War is as much mine as the invention of the compass…” (Frantz Fanon, Black Skins White Masks)
Classica Africana has produced a rich body of scholarship on African and African American receptions of classical ideas, images, and texts; the study of classical receptions in Latin America is also growing. The proposed panel would infuse these already fruitful areas with Afro-Latin and Afro-Hispanic receptions. An estimated 25% of the population of Latin America has African roots, and the demographic changes in the U.S. make such study timely.
Classical artistic and discursive traditions were appropriated by different Eurocentric colonial powers in the interest of European expansion. Greek and Roman epistemologies formed models for imperial governance and aesthetics. Even after independence, governing elites of the new nations in Spanish and Portuguese Africa and Latin America resorted to classical ideologies as they created national imaginaries, repeatedly disfranchising large parts of the population. Yet from the margins, writers, artists and philosophers from Spanish and Portuguese speaking Latin America and Africa have had recourse to classical themes in order to advance messages of liberation for their communities. Examples of these are Manuel Zapata Olivella’s use of Greco-Roman tropes in Changó el Gran Putas and reformulations of classical theatre such as Trinidad Morgades’ Antigona.
The panel will examine Afro-Latin receptions of ideas and images traditionally considered Greco-Roman. Rejecting the claim that “Greco-Roman” themes are dominant or hegemonic, we rather shall read critically the use of classical tropes in mainstream literatures that represent Africa and Africans, and shall study the use of classical themes along with Afro-centric tropes in literature, art and philosophy presented by Africans and Afro-descendants.
Proposals related, but not limited, to the following topics, are invited:
- Studies of individual writers who infuse, or individual works which infuse Afrocentric epistemologies with ideas, mythistoric or historic individuals, or historical events of the Greco-Roman past
- Studies of how Afro-Latin American and Afro-Hispanic writers map the ancient world as one where Africa is as central and essential as Greece and Rome (e.g. Juan Tomas Avila Laurel’s ancient world compared with Cavafy’s)
- Studies of those national or regional literatures which recognize or employ African, local, and classical imaginaries
- The use of classical traditions in Hispanophone and Lusophone African and Afro-Latin American clubs, organizations, and literary circles (e.g. the Ateneo in Mexico)
Please send your 600-word proposal to Elisa Rizo (email@example.com) or Madeleine Henry (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Dec. 1, 2012. We will review these and prepare the panel for review by the APA Program Committee; panel submission deadline is anticipated for March 2013. Our endeavor is part of a three-year project funded by Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities. Other activities will include a dedicated conference on our campus in 2014 and publications ( special journal volume or edited volume; select works in translation).
Avila Laurel, Juan Tomas. Historia Intima de la Humanidad. Malabo, Ediciones Pangola 1999.
Fanon, F. Black Skin, White Masks (Peau noire, masques blancs, 1952.) Trans. C. Markmann. Grove Press 1967.
Henry, M. “The Other Side of Atlantis”, delivered at APA January 7, 2012.
Hewitt, J. Cuervo. “Luís de Camoens en el reino de Calibán: Las ‘Lusíadas’ en ‘Changó, el gran Putas’ de Manuel Zapata Olivella” Afro-Hispanic Review 22:1 (Spring 2003) 13-23.
Lupher, D.A. Romans in a New World: Classical Models in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America. Michigan 2003.
Nikoloutsos, K. “Seneca in Cuba: Gender, Race, and the Revolution in José Triana’s Medea en el espejo.” Reception of Greek and Roman Drama in Latin America. Special issue of Romance Quarterly 59.1 (2012): 19-35.
Rizo, E. “Bridging Literary Traditions in the Hispanic World: Equatorial Guinean Drama and the Dictatorial Cultural-Political Order” 142-164 in Critical Perspectives on Afro-Latin American Literature. Ed. A.D. Tillis. Routledge 2012.
Watson, S. Stephenson. “Chango, el gran putas: Contemporary Afro-Hispanic Historical Novel”, Afro-Hispanic Review 25:1 (Spring 2006) 67-85.
Zapata Olivella, Manuel. Chango, the Biggest Badass. Trans. J. Tittler, Texas Tech University Press 2010.
_____. “Los Ancestros Combatientes”: Una Saga Afro-norteamericana” Afro-Hispanic Review 21:1-2 (Spring-Fall 2002) 9-16.