The Latina and Latino Studies Program at Northwestern University presents its annual symposium for 2018, titled Afro-Latinidades: Blackness, Identity, and Space. Taking place on May 18th, 2018, the day-long symposium will be comprised of four interdisciplinary and artistic panels that speak to connecting themes that illuminate the diverse issues concerning Afro-Latinos across the United States and throughout the Americas. These themes—from issues of urban space, criminalization, political activism, histories of Afro-Latinidad, and identity formation—will be addressed in several panels throughout the day by a distinguished group of scholars, activists, and artists.
This symposium is timely given the ever-growing amount of scholarship, media, organizations, and festivals dedicated to Afro-Latinidad as well as the increasing demographics of those within the United States who identify as Afro-Latino or with Afro-Latinidad (Pew Research Center 2016). With this event we revisit the inquiry that Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores presented in their foundational anthology, The Afro-Latin@ Reader (2010): What does Afro-Latin@ mean in the continental United States? What are and who are United States Afro-Latin@s? Within a long history of public invisibility, the academic acknowledgement and deep study of Afro-Latinos unsettles traditional and dominant notions of race, space, and society through its challenge of the racial projects of mestizaje across Latin America, as well as of binary U.S. notions of race as exclusively White/Black. Afro-Latinidades integrates the ever-segmented fields of African-American Studies and Latinidad while engaging the complexities and rich heterogeneity of black identities within Latino USA. The symposium allows for conversations and dialogues that frame the challenges that Afro-Latinx communities face to, in turn, potentially create new possibilities. Highlighting a transnational approach to Afro-Latinidades, our guest speakers will articulate the multiple diasporas that Afro-Latino communities in the US constitute. In addition, the rich intersectional textures of multiple subjectivities among Afro-Latinos –gender, sexuality, legal status, generational identity, social class, age, and migration histories—will also be centrally embodied in the variety of speakers we have invited.