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CANCELLED: A Latin-African Internationalism and UNESCO's Memorials

Sarah Quesada: A Latin-African Internationalism and UNESCO's Memorials
Friday, February 25, 2022
9:30 am - 11:00 am
Sarah Quesada

We hope to reschedule this event in Fall 2022. Thank you. (2/21/22)

Please join the Franklin Humanities Institute for its Friday morning series, tgiFHI! tgiFHI gives Duke faculty in the humanities, interpretative social sciences and arts the opportunity to present their current research to their departmental (and interdepartmental) colleagues, students, and other interlocutors in their fields.

The African Atlantic haunts modern Latinx and Caribbean writing. From the era of the slave trade to the failed decolonizing wars in Africa during the Cold War, some of the most canonical writers of Latin American descent have engaged with these histories by evoking "textual" memorials to this long-denied African memory. In this presentation, I unearth a buried African archive in Dominican American Junot Díaz's writing. I do so to challenge dominant narratives in World Literature and transatlantic studies that ignore Africa's impact on broader Latin American culture. In Díaz's afrofuturistic tale of "Monstro" (2012), set in a fictional Haiti, I show how the disavowal or distortion of the African subject-in this case the religious practice of vodun (voodoo) and its byproduct the "zombie"-has led to discourses of anti-blackness that have long been considered to be American-born. Drawing from multilingual archives about West Africa as well as my fieldwork conducted at Ouidah's UNESCO Slave Route-where vodun originated-, I examine how the legacies of colonial empires within Africa have impacted the excision of African epistemology from Latinx identities.

Sarah Margarita Quesada is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Romance Studies at Duke University. A comparatist, her main interests are literatures of the Global South, specifically Latinx, Latin American and African literatures. Her book The African Heritage of Latinx and Caribbean Literature is forthcoming from Cambridge UP (Sept 2022). Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in numerous academic journals, including American Quarterly, Small Axe, and Latino Studies. She was elected into the MLA executive committee for the Forum on Literature and Anthropology and serves on the editorial committee for Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism (with Duke UP). She is a former co-chair for the executive committee on Latino Studies in the Latin American Studies Association. Prior to coming to Duke, she was an assistant professor of English at the University of Notre Dame

Contact: Christina Chia