Participant Bios

Poniente (2002) by Chus Gutiérrez: Family Melodrama, (In)Migratory Experiences and Interracial

Isolina Ballesteros

A great number of films dealing with race and foreignness in the context of immigration made in the late 1990s and early 2000s focus on the position of black male immigrants who are represented as (in)visible racialized bodies, perceived in terms of their exotic/erotic appearance, voicelessness due to lack of mastery of the Spanish language, sexual interactions with the national white female, or reduced to battered or drowned bodies made into anonymous and victimized spectacles by the media.

Many of these same films reintroduce the family as an emblematic microcosm to epitomize the Nation’s both aggressive and passive resistance to Otherness, as is the case in Chus Gutiérrez’s Poniente/Sunset (2002). Melodrama has traditionally used the family to reflect on larger social issues and sentimentality to draw cathartic reactions from the audience. Chus Gutiérrez chooses melodrama, like Uribe and Saura had done before in Bwana and Taxi, as the most appropriate medium to denounce extreme racism in Spain, but complicates the previous films’ binary resolutions.

Poniente is the only Spanish immigration film made by a woman that deals in an innovative way with the representation of interracial male solidarity. Gutiérrez is interested in emphasizing the link between Spain’s own past migratory experiences and the current situations and attitudes resulting from present immigration. These parallel border-crossings and migrations and the fraternal bonds established between their subjects prevail and provide in the fiction a logical solution to the cultural and racial incommunication between natives and immigrants: the emphasis relies on the shared cultural links, rather than differences, as the only possible means toward eventual integration and acceptance.

Revising Resistance: African and Amerindian Marronage in the Americas
Charles Beatty Medina

While Africans' escape from enslavement, or marronage, is widely studied in the Atlantic context, far less is known of the Amerindian dimensions of this form of resistance. This paper examines the ways in which Amerindian and African marronage have followed intersecting pathways in the Atlantic World and how their utilization of similar tools and strategies worked to impede and hamper exploitation and slavery.

Mi casa no es su casa: Transnational Capitalism and Immigration in Spanish Pop Music of the 1990s
Silvia Bermúdez

As contemporary realities of our times, "immigration" and transnational capitalism have the Atlantic as one of its most real and symbolic locus, requiring us to understand it as a complex space of analysis. It is within this space, and more specifically, within theHispanic Atlantic, that I invite you to consider what appears to be an obsessive musical topic in Spanish Pop Music: immigration, border crossing and the presence of so-called ?others." This presentation focuses on several songs of the 1990s--by "cantautores" Joan Manuel Serrat, Joaquin Sabina, Carlos Cano and the group SKA-P-- to evaluate their participation in the "imagination of race" in present-day Spain.

Race and the Divine: Interrogating the “Race” of the Black Christ of Portobelo
Jonathan Gayles

This paper examines the historical origins of the Black Christ of Portobelo and the meaning of his apparent “Blackness” to Panamanian participants in the annual festival that honors him. Through interviews, historical documents and preexisting research, “El Cristo Negro” is placed in national historical context of Panama. This paper is also autoethnographic. The researcher’s nationalized understandings of race are examined as these understandings are, ultimately, placed in contradistinction to Panamanian understandings of race – particularly in relation to the “Blackness” of a figure regarded by many as divine.

Trafficking in (the Spirit of) the Race: From Bambú to Mambí
Susan Martin-Márquez

The Commodification of Human and Physical Space in Colonial Spanish America during the ‘Age of Reason’
Mariselle Meléndez:

Naming Diasporas: Indian Vassals, African Slaves, and Legal Categories in Colonial Peru
Rachel O´Toole

Historians have presented colonial casta terms as racial markers or short hand terms for descent. Mulato meant a man of Spanish and African descent or a zamba was a woman of mixture with indigenous and Spanish heritage. Yet, this paper defines casta terminologies as Spanish legal terms in order to explore seventeenth-century manifestations of race and racism. If taken as legal categories colonial casta terms provide an entry to how colonized and enslaved people engaged in official apparatuses of the colonial state while also constructing collectivities, identities, and strategies that are more subaltern than official. More, the comparison allows historians to question how imperial laws intersected with transatlantic commerce, mixing the terms of slavery with those of the slave trade. By seizing on what could be offered by the category of *Indian,* coastal Andeans pushed too far to be exiled from the Crown protections. By calling themselves by Diasporic names, enslaved Africans multiplied the categories to create public identities that colonial jurists could only struggle to contain with proliferating, but inadequate, casta categories - yet functioning colonialism.

Circulaciones históricas en el Mundo Atlántico
Juan Manuel Santana Pérez

A partir de la llegada a América de forma masiva por parte de los Estados europeos con vocación ultramarina comienzan a llevarse a cabo diferentes intercambios entre ese continente, Europa y África. Con esto se abre una multitud de interrelaciones, no sólo poblacionales, que en muchos casos han sido de ida y vuelta, sino también de productos a través de un lucrativo comercio de mercancías y culturales que se refleja en las distintas manifestaciones artísticas e intelectuales pero no sólo en el continente americano, sino que en muchos casos el trabase de América a África también ha estado presente.
Se abrió un nuevo espacio marítimo a los portugueses, primero, y después a otros europeos, que venían a buscar sobre todo oro en un primer momento hasta que, desde el siglo XVII, la demanda creciente de mano de obra en las plantaciones americanas convirtió a los esclavos en la más importante de las exportaciones africanas. A cambio se recibían tejidos, productos metálicos, armas y bebidas alcohólicas que, sin embargo, nunca alcanzaron un volumen que pudiese afectar al desarrollo económico africano. La originalidad de este trazado no consiste sólo en que se establecen relaciones comerciales entre varias bandas atlánticas, que ya es todo un hito, sino que el mecanismo que articula este tráfico es claramente favorable a los europeos.
Además pasaron a América manifestaciones religiosas, culturales e intelectuales y en el largo plazo vemos que muchas de ellas han regresado a América, en ocasiones incluso como ideologías político-económicas formadas en América.

The First Wave: Exile and Emigration From Colonial Equatorial Guinea
Miguel Ugarte

Postcolonial migration begins with slavery. The tiny nation-state of Equatorial Guinea is no exception in its historical migratory patterns. It has been known throughout its history as a land into which and out of which people flow due to many factors, not the least of which is slavery. We academics (along with entrepreneurs) are becoming more familiar with these movements to and out of Equatorial Guinea as the twenty-first century presses on, due largely to the country's recent status as an oil-producing nation, a development which leads to even further movement in and out, despite the present government's strict control of its borders. The consideration of the historical circumstances of these movements, migrations, and exiles are paramount. In this paper I plan to trace the movements of Equatorial Guineans to Spain by exploring some of the texts that manifest those movements. I hope that this exploration will provide insights to how Spain reads itself in terms of its African other as well as how Equatorial Guinean see themselves in terms of their European dominators.