Constructing a Nation, Defining its People: The Formation and Preservation of Ethnic Identities

Saturday, February 7, 2015
11:30am – 12:45pm
Jones Hall 102
Moderated by: Dr. Rosanne Adderley, Department of History, Tulane University

Out of Blood, Let the Dance Begin: The Metaphor of Blood in Revolutionary Saint-Domingue
Sean Anderson, Lehigh University

While European slave societies placed much emphasis on blood’s purity in a racial sense, the enslaved also placed certain emphases on blood’s meanings in the Americas. Often concerned with European colonial perceptions such as the Spanish limpieza de sangre or the classification system of Moreau de Saint-Méry, much scholarly research has focused on European racial categories rather than specific African ideas and practices concerning blood. This paper will explain the role blood occupied in the Bois Caiman ceremony, which occurred in 1791 at the start of the Saint-Domingue insurgency. According to archival accounts, the ceremony was centered around an African blood-oath ritual. While blood-oath rituals are often interpreted by scholars as creating symbolic union between people and groups, this paper will examine how traditional African symbolic conceptions surrounding blood ritual were transformed by early insurgents. In Saint-Domingue, blood-oath ritual appeared traditional but acted socially and symbolically differently by both integrating various people while demarcating lines of difference among early insurgents. Further, in various contexts, such as at dances and in insurgent camps, blood as a metaphor for both unity and disunity emerges in the archival documents of late eighteenth-century Saint-Domingue, which exposes a rich world of African, European, and American confluence around the multivalent social metaphor of blood. Drawing on the works of diverse scholars such as James H. Sweet, Joan Dayan, Robin Law, and Michael Taussig, this paper will show that the Haitian metaphor of blood was deeper than studies on racial classification reveal. To that end, African cultural forms and symbolic meanings about blood will be examined within the diverse social context of Saint-Domingue to show how an emerging Haitian identity was crafted over the revolutionary period out of many trans-Atlantic symbolic currents.

Cajun Identity Formation during the 19th Century
Jessica DeJohn Bergen, University of Texas at El Paso

This paper will look at the Louisiana Acadians during the early nineteenth century. Following their 1755 deportation by the British Empire from present day Nova Scotia, most Acadians, as subjects of the French Empire, returned to France and/or settled in various regions the Spanish Empire in North America. Many of them relocated to southern Louisiana where they remained until the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by the American Empire. Despite this intriguing trans-imperial history, scholars interested in race, racialization, imperialism, and post-colonialism have largely overlooked the Acadians commonly refer to as Cajuns. This oversight stems from the present understanding of Acadians/Cajuns solely and simply as French or European, thus white; therefore, not a mixed-race or metis peoples. From the earliest settlement of Acadians in Nova Scotia to those of south Louisiana, Acadians/Cajuns have a mixed ancestry of Native American, African, French, and Spanish to name a few. This paper argues that at the nexus of Northern and Southern hemispheric empires, Louisiana Acadians/Cajuns formed alliances with communities that accommodated, resisted, and facilitated European imperialisms. I will discuss the ways that Louisiana Acadians/Cajuns were tied to the nation and the ways the state tied them to emerging constructions of race and nation. Moreover, I will explain what it meant to be Acadian/Cajun under French, Spanish, and U.S. imperial rule and how Acadians/Cajuns perceived themselves likewise. Over time conflicting nineteenth century racial and national ideas promoted discord and Louisiana Acadians/Cajuns sought to divorce themselves from the “other” through a relational process that frequently stressed their “whiteness.” Moreover, this analysis speaks to the ways that French speakers in Louisiana have claimed an Acadian past to racially legitimized a Cajun identity or whiten themselves.

Saint Domingue in Flames, 1791-1793: A Spanish Colonial Perspective of Violence, Spatiality, and Power
Jesús Ruiz, Tulane University

Interrogating Gender: Traditions and Opportunities in the Framing of Women’s Identities

Saturday, February 7, 2015
11:30am – 12:45pm
Greenleaf Conference Room, Jones Hall 100A
Moderated by: Dr. Supriya Nair, Department of English, Tulane University

Poto Mitan or Helpless Victim: An Analysis of Women’s Representation in Haitian Proverbs
Rachel Denney, University of Kansas

This work examines competing notions of Haitian female identity as reflected through Haitian proverbs. Using a postcolonial feminist framework, this research analyzes entries from one of the world’s largest collection of Creole proverbs to understand how gender norms are both constructed and reinforced. These proverbs present a complex picture of female identities and gender relations in Haiti, in which women appear as entrepreneurs, partners, and caregivers, experiencing and eliciting the full range of human emotion. In doing so, they contradict the stereotypical “victim narrative” of Haitian women that permeates the underlying ideology of much humanitarian assistance, as well as undermine simplistic notions about women’s strength and resiliency. This project builds on literature that examines the social construction of identity through content and rhetorical analysis.

Ancient Maya Women’s Identity: An Analysis of Costume in Pre-Columbian Maya Art
Elizabeth Haughey, Tulane University

Ancient Maya textiles were made of natural wool or cotton that was dyed with natural vegetal dyes and woven by women on a backstrap loom. Evidence for these practices can be found in ancient Maya depictions of the act of weaving (often performed by the goddess Ixchel, or Goddesses O and I), as well as Jaina Island figurines and more. While some of the methods of textile production have changed throughout time, others have largely remained the same. Evidence from the Conquest period suggests that some Pre-conquest elements in Maya costume were also retained in 19th century women’s garments and beyond. Specific designs and colors in Guatemalan textiles today can often be linked to certain towns or regions of the country, especially the woman’s huipil (blouse) and corte (skirt) (both elements that originated in ancient times), and serve to provide the wearer with a sense of identity; not only Maya identity, but a specific identity tied to birth town or town of residence. Though little evidence exists that specifically links the Post-Classic Maya period to the period of the Spanish conquest, it may be true that the element of regional identifiability in textiles has persisted since ancient times. Ancient Maya women’s costumes may be seen worn on prominent Maya women, such as Lady Xok of Yaxchilan, Lady Rabbit of Bonampak, Lady Night of Piedras Negras, and others. These ladies can be found on a variety of ancient Maya art, including painted pottery, carved stone lintels and stelae, three-dimensional figurines, and the Maya codices, from sites such as Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Motul de San José. Analysis of such depictions of women’s costume in Pre-Columbian Maya art can be employed to discover the ways in which the Pre-Columbian Maya may have distinguished regional identity.

(Sup)Plantation Narratives: Reading Andrea Levy’s The Long Song as a Textual and Sexual Revision of The History of Mary Prince

Laura Mellem, Tulane University

This paper examines a contemporary novel, Andrea Levy’s The Long Song (2010), alongside a prominent historical text describing the experiences of an enslaved woman in the West Indies, The History of Mary Prince, originally published in 1831. In depicting the sexual encounters of enslaved women–coerced, for pleasure, and for economic or legal gain–in Jamaica in the period between the abolition of the slave trade and full emancipation (1807-1838), I argue that Levy’s novel especially responds to the deliberate silencing of aspects of Mary Prince’s sexual experiences as an enslaved woman in the original slave narrative. Ultimately, Levy’s novel reveals what Prince’s testimony does not say, that sexuality was a central tenet of enslaved women’s lives and that they did with it what they could. Writing back to the public furor that erupted over Prince’s sexual omissions, moreover, Levy pieces together the claims made about Prince and reinvents a full story of her life, and other enslaved women’s lives. In doing so, she makes clear the contradictions inherent in the unrealistic Victorian demands being made of enslaved women, including the idealization of motherhood and the insistence on women’s chastity. Unapologetically portraying an enslaved woman’s rejection of her dark-skinned child and highlighting her relationships with men, both black and white, for economic gain, Levy disrupts the binary logic of “the woman card” in the debates between abolitionists and pro-slavery supporters. Instead, she portrays a complex female character who is neither simply victim nor concubine. Reading Levy’s The Long Song alongside The History of Mary Prince allows us to fill in the blanks deliberately left in Prince’s testimony, while also appreciating, perhaps even more, the boldness of Prince’s original work.

Challenges to Development: Education, Exclusion, and Accessibility

Saturday, February 7, 2015
1:30pm – 2:45pm
Jones Hall 102
Moderated by: Dr. Laura Murphy, Department of Global Health Systems and Development, Tulane University

Identity and the Millenium Development Goals: Consideration for the post-2015 Agenda 
Shauna Lewis, Tulane University

This paper explores the relationship between legal identity, social exclusion, and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and uses this relationship as a backdrop for evaluating whether a rights-based focus in the post 2015 agenda — with specific inclusion of citizenship-related targets — could improve development outcomes for marginalized and vulnerable populations. Widespread MDG-motivated social programs and interventions related to poverty reduction and access to health and education systems are analyzed to determine the extent to which they are accessible and relevant to indigenous groups, populations of African descent, and those without birth certificates (the argument is also presented that these first two categories are disproportionately represented in the third). The 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court in the Dominican Republic and the resulting statelessness of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent is discussed in the context of comparison of the national policies throughout the region that govern the provision of identification documents and citizenship rights to individuals. In addition, the continued struggle around birth registration and the strengthening of civil registry systems throughout the region are considered, with an eye toward distinguishing legitimate capacity challenges from exclusionary practices. The conclusions of these analyses, and of examinations of the guidelines of existing international agreements such as the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons will serve as the foundation for recommendations concerning the construction of targets and indicators for a citizenship goal addressing birth registration and statelessness.

Ciudadanía y modernidad en Memorias del subdesarrollo
Héctor Alfonso Melo Ruiz, University of Notre Dame

La efervescencia política y cultural que concentró la década de los sesenta en Cuba, producto del triunfo de la Revolución castrista, dio lugar a uno de los reductos intelectuales más importantes de la izquierda latinoamericana, europea, e incluso, norteamericana. Dos grandes debates ocupan de lleno la intelectualidad del momento: la idea de la descolonización y la idea del subdesarrollo. La descolonización de todas las estructuras sociales, económicas y culturales, como una necesidad de primer orden, ocupó sin duda la agenda revolucionaria en torno a temas tales como la dependencia, la soberanía y la libertad. Por su parte, la idea de subdesarrollo, como una condición también económica, intelectual y cultural inherente a los países “post-coloniales” reflejaba justamente el viejo paradigma colonial civilización-barbarie y lo reinstalaba ahora en el centro del contexto capitalista bajo la premisa del desarrollismo. En el ámbito de dichos debates se sitúa la novela Memorias del subdesarrollo de Edmundo Desnoes y la posterior adaptación cinematográfica hecha por Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. Novela y filme exploran la subjetividad de un habanero burgués que, imbuido en sus concepciones de clase, interpreta los vertiginosos cambios sociales que trae consigo la Revolución y su marcha hacia la construcción del hombre nuevo. La tensión entre el personaje y la sociedad (entre el individuo y la colectividad) se plantea a través de una racionalidad europeizante––representada en Sergio y su intelectualismo diletante––y las masas “subdesarrolladas” que remplazan la vieja burguesía cubana, ahora en el exilio. En esta ponencia me propongo analizar los problemas de las masas y la ciudadanía desde dos ópticas: (1) la representación de las masas desde el locus modernizador de la Revolución, y (2) la crisis del letrado frente a esta problemática modernidad.

When Teaching and Research Aren’t Enough: Extensão in Modern Brazilian Universities
Miranda Stramel, Tulane University

Article 207 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988 states that universities should obey “the principle of indivisibility of teaching, research and extension,” with extensão in the Brazilian context meaning the relevance of the university to the local community, or, the ways in which universities facilitate a connection between those with access to higher education and those who do not have the same access. As described by José Ernandi Mendes and Sandra Maria Gadelha de Carvalho in “Extensão universitaria:
compromisso social, resistência e produção de conhecimentos,” Brazilian universities have suffered many transformations in the neoliberal context that threaten the purposes of education as related to citizenship and full participation in society. Ideally, universities create dialogue through presenting varying perspectives and play a social role by facilitating the sharing and co-creation of knowledge. Institutions now run like for-profit businesses, however, with goals limited to the production of a workforce for the global market, compromise the role of universities in modern Brazil. Looking at various case studies, this work investigates the purpose and work of offices of extensão within Brazilian universities and within Brazilian society to uphold Article 207 of the Constitution of 1988, and some of the ways that social activists and academics work together to solve community problems under the umbrella of extensão. Using various interpretations of Article 207 that connect the purposes of higher education to full participation and citizenship, these case studies demonstrate how the modern university can remain relevant to the larger community by fostering dialogic knowledge production.

Sexual Citizenship: Defining, Defending, and Expressing Sexuality

Saturday, February 7, 2015
1:30pm – 2:45pm
Greenleaf Conference Room, Jones Hall 100A
Moderated by: Dr. Elizabeth Steeby, Department of English, University of New Orleans

Movilh-Ization: Diversidad Collective Action Framing in Santiago’s LGBTI movement
Baird Campbell, Rice University

Santiago, Chile’s capital and home to roughly a third of Chile’s population, has both a longer established and more diverse LGBTQ social movement industry (SMI) than the rest of the country. This paper, thus, will focus specifically on my interviews with leaders from six major LGBTQ rights groups in Santiago: Movilh, MUMS, Acción Gay, Fundación Iguales, CUTS, and OTD.
Movilh presents itself as the oldest LGBTQ rights social movement organization (SMO) in Chile. While it is technically true, today’s Movilh is a different organization than the one originally founded, the latter now referred to by many as “Movilh Histórico.” This conversion from Movilh Histórico to today’s Movilh has created ruptures in Santiago’s LGBTQ SMI. According to my interviews, this rupture is largely due to personal tensions with Rolando Jimenez, Movilh’s current president and one of the initial founders of the group. In general, the activists I interviewed (with the exception of Movilh’s representative, Jaime Parada) bear a notable animosity toward Jimenez.
Through analysis of field interviews, I will assess Movilh’s political legitimacy both in the eyes of the Chilean state and in the eyes of the remaining SMOs that make up Santiago’s LGBTQ social movement industry. Although this SMI has been fragmented for years, its current step into the spotlight has aggravated tensions among the city’s various SMOs. I believe that in the coming years this inter-group dynamic will become increasingly salient as LGBTQ rights gain more traction and political clout in Chile. It is important to begin to understand this SMI now, while it is still in the early stages of societal legitimation. An understanding of the dynamics between Movilh, the government, and the rest of the SMI will be crucial to understanding LGBTQ rights in Chile in the near future.

‘Ni plus, ni moins.’: (Re) Examining Questions of Sexual Citizenship in the French Caribbean
Ryan Joyce, Tulane University

In recent years, the nascent field of Citizenship Studies has been explored, expanded and problematized throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. However, relatively little attention is given to the French Caribbean, and even less to the role and interactions of sexual marginalization and citizenship within and across that space. My project challenges this gap in scholarship by examining representations of marginalized LGBT communities within the French Caribbean surrounding the PaCS (Civil Solidarity Pacts) and same-sex marriage debates. Arguably, these political and social representations force us to reexamine what it actually means to be a “citizen” under the banner of the French republican model of universalism. More specifically, my paper gestures towards the peripheries of the French nation by addressing citizens who are doubly marginalized as sexually and racially inferior subjects. In this context, focusing on the modes of representation in popular print media, or lack thereof, of LGBT minorities in relation with the French métropole helps to frame a wider discussion about the realities of ‘sexual citizens’ in the 21st century. Indeed, rethinking the role of sexual citizenship in the French Caribbean vis-à-vis Europe reveals the contradictions and tensions inherent within the transnational, and trans-Atlantic, constructions of modernity and democracy. Extending the discussion to subaltern LGBT minorities also forces the representations of these groups to be considered and debated in the public sphere. Finally, this issue operates across a wide variety of discourses, ranging from the political, the economic, the social, the cultural, and the historical.

Gender in the City: Reading Judith Butler in Havana
Maile Speakman, Tulane University

A great deal of literature exists on exiled queer Cuban authors like Reinaldo Arenas. However, little research has been done about the theoretical, cultural, and political ties that queer and feminist Cuban authors who live in Cuba have to theorists and writers in the United States. Using historical methods, qualitative interviews, and discourse analysis, I trace the cultural currents that exist between Havana’s queer and feminist authors and gender theorists in the United States. In doing so, I highlight the delayed, fragmented, and localized nature of these exchanges and theorize that the unique temporal space that habanero writers create with North American queer theorists disrupts the logic of globalized cultural imperialism and North American queer hegemony. This analysis is in dialogue with scholars such as Emilio Bejel, Eduardo González, José Quiroga, and Ricardo Ortiz and uses a theoretical framework that includes the work of Michel Foucault, Gloria Anzaldúa, and José Muñoz.

Cartografías queer: Género y sexualidad en una comunidad del México rural
Raziel Valiño, Columbia University

Este trabajo describe como se encontró en el Morelos rural, un amplio y rico terreno donde se mapeo la geografía sexual y el espacio público y privado del pueblo. El análisis principal se ubica en el local de Mario, el que se puede describir como un bar gay al aire libre, ubicado en el centro del pueblo. La loca del pueblo es una figura conocida en el México rural, pero lo que brinda el local de Mario es que las locas y sus amigos se han apropiado y reclamado el centro del pueblo, en donde crean un contra publico queer. Las prácticas nocturnas representadas en los cuerpos y sociabilidad vista en el local de Mario, ubica lo escondido e ilícito en el centro del pueblo. Los espacios públicos queer crean un mundo cuyos contornos son expresivos y afectivos, en lugar de ser creadores de argumentos y opiniones. Este mundo y sus formas de ser mexicano, campesino, hombre y mujer hacen declaraciones publicas que pertenecen en y al pueblo, pero también son practicas de ciudadanía cultural.