Online Forum–Race & Latin America

Colorful painted buildings of Favela in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. (Shutterstock-Skreidzeleu)
Rio de Janeiro Brazil (Shutterstock)

October 11, 2023 to October 19, 2023

Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is hosting an online forum considering the continuation and interruption of ideas of racial democracy in Latin America. The two-week online forum brings together scholars to discuss how people of African descent are challenging ideas of “Post Racial Democracies” and Black intellectuals’ understandings of racial dynamics in Latin America. The forum begins on Wednesday, October 11, and concludes on Thursday, October 19, 2023. It features essays by Laura Correa Ochoa; Bryce Henson; C. Darius Gordon; Jasmine Mitchell; João Gabriel Rabello Sodré; Vítor Antunes; Cassie Osei; and Stephanie V. Reist.

During the online forum, Black Perspectives will publish new blog posts every day at 6:00 AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHS) on Twitter/X or @AAIHS (@AAIHS23) on Instagram; like AAIHS on Facebook; or subscribe to our blog for updates. By subscribing to Black Perspectives, each new post will automatically be delivered to your inbox during the week of the forum.

About the Organizer

Reighan Gillam is an ethnographer of Black visual culture. She is an associate professor in the Department of Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College. Her research examines media at the intersection of racial ideologies, anti-racism, and protest. Specifically, she focuses on the ways that Afro-Brazilian media producers create images that render Black subjects and their experiences in complex ways. Her first book, Visualizing Black Lives: Ownership and Control in Afro-Brazilian Media was published in March 2022 by the University of Illinois Press. She earned a BA in Anthropology and Afro-American and African Studies from the University of Virginia and a PhD from Cornell University. Gillam’s next research project takes a transnational approach to the study of Black politics and culture. Her second book, entitled Diasporic Agency: Transnational Racial Leverage and Challenges to Exceptionalism examines how Afro-Brazilians engage African American people, culture, and performance. Gillam served as the Peggy Rockefeller Fellow at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. She was elected to the Executive Committee of the Brazilian Studies Association.

About the Participants

Laura Correa Ochoa is an Assistant Professor of History at Rice University. She has a PhD in Latin America and Caribbean History from Harvard University and a BA (Hons) in History and Political Science from the University of Toronto. Ochoa specializes in histories of race, ethnicity, political violence, and Afro-Latin American and Indigenous social movements and politics with a focus on Colombia. Her article, “Manuel Zapata Olivella, Racial Politics and Pan-Africanism in Colombia in the 1970s,” was published in The Americas. Her book project, Black and Indigenous Counterpoints: Race, Nation, and Mobilization in Colombia, 1930-2022, reconstructs the entwined and parallel histories of Indigenous and Black mobilization in Colombia and explores the role of race and ethnicity in broader social and political struggles, the making of state policies, and national narratives.

Bryce Henson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University. He holds a PhD from the Institute of Communications Research with graduate certificates in Cultural Studies and Latin American & Caribbean Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Henson’s research focuses on the intersection between anti-Black racism and Black lived, expressive, and mediated cultures of political resistance and possibility in the Americas. His current book project situates Black Brazilian hip-hop artists and their expressive cultures within a sociopolitical history of marronage.

C. Darius Gordon is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley in the Critical Studies of Race, Class, & Gender program housed in the Graduate School of Education. They study the intellectual histories of 20th-century Black liberation movements throughout the Atlantic world. Their dissertation project, ‘We on the Other Side’: Black Internationalism against the Lusophone World, 1950s-1980s,” is a social and intellectual history of the relations forged between activist-intellectuals of Brazilian Black movements and the anti-colonial revolutions of Portuguese-speaking Africa. Their work has been published in Berkeley Review of Education, Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies, Race Ethnicity and Education, and Comparative Education Review.

Jasmine Mitchell is Associate Professor of Puerto Rican and Latin Studies at Brooklyn College-City University of New York. She has a PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and a BA in American Studies from Williams College. She is the author of Imagining the Mulatta: Blackness in U.S. and Brazilian Media (University of Illinois Press 2020). Her scholarly specialities include race and gender representation in popular culture, mixed-race, African-Americans and Afro-Brazilians, black feminisms, and race and sports.  

João Gabriel Rabello Sodré is a PhD Candidate in History at Georgetown University. He has a M.A. in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara along with a M.A. in Public Policy on Human Rights and LL.B from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Sodré’s 2020 article, “Subaltern Spaces and Diasporic Imaginaries in Rio de Janeiro’s Valongo Wharf,” in Tinta reflects his research on the impacts of major events in urbanism and the influence of ideologies in urban planning.

Vítor Antunes is a journalist, researcher, and carnival specialist. He has extensively covered carnival in his career, having worked in the documentaries Trinta (on Joãosinho Trinta) and Bumbum 40, on the 40th anniversary of samba school Império Serrano’s iconic parade “Bumbum Paticumbum Brugurundum.” Antunes has been nominated for various awards, among them Prêmio Barco a Vapor (2021), Novo Autor Fluminense (2019), and Prêmio Imprensa Oficial de Pernambuco (2017).

Cassie Osei is Assistant Professor of History at Bucknell University. She has a PhD and M.A. in History from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, along with a B.A. in History and Latin American & Caribbean Studies from the University of Kansas. Her work is centered on Black Brazilian perspectives on urban life, politics, and inequality, with special attention to Black women. Her current project focuses on Black-determined meanings of social mobility, development, and their aesthetics in late twentieth and early twenty-first century São Paulo. Osei’s work has been supported by the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) and Fulbright-Hays programs.

Stephanie V. Reist is a Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. She has a PhD in Romance Studies with a focus on Latin American Cultural Studies, a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University, and a BA in Comparative Literature from Williams College. Reist was also a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Education Department at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro. Her research and writing focus on issues of race, public policy, Black feminisms, cultural production, youth, and urban belonging in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her writing has been featured in RioOnWatch, Times Higher Education, The Independent and Jacobin Magazine.

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