Contemporary pasts. The expression may look like a very traditional trope –looking at the past from the assumption that nothing in the past can be properly examined without articulating some of our most pressing, urgent questions. In that sense, it is –it is a traditional trope. However, this expression, contemporary pasts, indicates something else: by examining the past, we are constantly engaging in this question: what does it mean to be a contemporary? What does it mean to combine intellectual activities with the pressures of activism in our current ethico-political circumstances?
Session 01 — September 17, 2020 — 5:00 pm
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Radical Presentisms: Putting the Early Modern to Work
Karina López (Yale) conducts a conversation with Nicholas Jones (Bucknell), Chad Leahy (Denver), and Rachel Stein (Tulane), on the question of how the present radically informs some of the critical questions we need to ask about the past. Blackness, Black Iberia, and #BlackLivesMatter, as well as Critical Race Studies and Public and Collective Humanities constitute the theoretical and practical backdrop to this conversation.
Session 02 — November 5, 2020 — 5:00 pm
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Radical Uncertainties: Afro-Latin American Studies in the Era of BLM
This session addresses theoretical, ethical, and political issues related to the study of the African diaspora in the Iberian empires, both Spanish and Portuguese. It comes on the heels of a tumultuous presidential election in a year wrought with uncertainty—an effect and affect with disparate implications across social groups. For instance, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Elijah McClain and many others at the hands of police—and in the midst of a global pandemic—has underscored the precarity of Black life due to the ongoing legacies of racism and white supremacy.
Nathalie Miraval (Yale) will conduct a conversation with Larissa Brewer-García (Chicago), Lexie Cook (Columbia), Cécile Fromont (Yale), Benita Sampedro (Hofstra), and Miguel Valerio (Washington Saint-Louis). They will reflect on the ethical and political dimensions of their research and its contemporary relevance in the era of the Black Lives Matter movement.
What are the contours of the long shadow of the early modern period in our contemporary moment? How can knowledge of Black life under the early modern Iberian empires inform our understanding of the present? Inversely, to what extent and in what ways should present political movements inform approaches to the past? What radical potential does uncertainty hold for academic discourse?
GuestsNathalie Miraval Miguel A. Valerio Benita Sampedro Cécile Fromont Lexie Cook Larissa Brewer-García
ArticlesRadical Blackness Colonial Afro-Latin America Phantom Africa
ReadingsMiguel Valerio — a reading list Larisa Brewer — a reading list Cécile Fromont — A reading list Benita Sampedro Vizcaya — a reading list Lexie Cook — a reading list
Session 03 — March 11, 2021 — 5:00 pm
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Friendship, Kinship, and the Law – In the Mediterranean
In this session we will attempt an anthro-historical triangulation of friendship, kinship, and the law at certain moments around the Mediterranean, the sea that saw the centuries’ long move from what Germaine Tillion called the “republic of brothers-in-law” to the “republic of cousins”, leading to the emergence of the “republic of brothers”. At times, the Law appears to distinguish friendship from kinship, be it under a this-worldly horizon or not. At others, legal reform treats friendship as the continuation of kinship by other means, and seeks to purify its realm from both. In other cases, perhaps the earliest, giving law meant forming and postulating friendship as a higher form of kinship – to harness it, scale it up, and then monopolize its dues. Some views of friendship see in it people’s ability to overcome the legal constraints of kinship.