This conference on post/colonialism and the pursuit of freedom in the Black Atlantic is an interdisciplinary event of wide geographic scope, which engages the legacy of colonialism and slavery, and invokes the continuing crises being experienced by the no-longer-new nation-states it addresses. While its immediate context evokes the parameters of dominance and extraction under contemporary globalization, its objective is to make a contribution to postcolonial critique from the standpoint of literary and cultural analysis. In disciplinary and institutional terms, the conference also wishes to expand the understanding of the field of Hispanic Studies to include, in a more overt manner, not only Afro-Latin Americans, but also the Hispanophone and Lusophone populations of Africa and the Caribbean, while at the same time giving consideration to similarly interpellated Francophone populations across the Atlantic.
The teachers and researchers involved will share their insights on the critical situations faced by African and Afro-diasporan populations in emerging and formerly colonized nations, in the context of the globalized neoliberal order of the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. Their primary sources will be the creative literature and the political discourse that underwrote the anticolonial project, as well as that which sought to assess, endorse, or critique the postcolonial state/s after the attainment of formal independence.
As they focus on African or Afro-diasporan populations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Luso-Hispanic and Francophone African countries, they will attempt to gauge the degree to which formal independence, coming out of a variety of practices of opposition and resistance, lasting centuries in some cases, has translated into freedom, security, and a “good life.” The conference’s working supposition is that, similar to the disenchantment and oft-times renewed forms of oppression experienced by the formerly enslaved after Emancipation in the nineteenth century in this hemisphere, twentieth-century independence, while delivering the nation-state into the hands of the formerly colonized, also brought with it new forms of political and economic subjection as the new nations strove after the socio-economic and technological teleology of “progress,” as well as modern political models of governance that often degenerated into elitism, ethnocratic rule, and outright dictatorship. As it focuses on the creative literature and the political discourse associated with the “problem-space” (Scott) of decolonization and the Postcolony (Mbembe), the conference will attempt to establish the archival and historicist value of the work of a wide array of Africana creative writers and producers of culture, as well as its “poeticist” value; that is, its articulation of a liberationist episteme of “action-oriented” potential (Paget Henry), that informs everyday life and (still) inspires hope for the multitude of ordinary folk across Afrodiasporan borders.
The conference takes cognizance of the UN designation of the years 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent.