This conference brings together an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars to challenge traditional notions of race and identity in Central America, Mexico and Colombia in both the colonial and postcolonial contexts. Together we will engage in the common goal of revising notions of hybridity, whose historical importance and precocity can hardly be overstated. The post-World War II explosion in scholarship on the history of Africans and their descendants in the Americas has been one of the most fruitful areas for the development of historical and sociological knowledge worldwide. However, the islands of the Caribbean, the United States, and Brazil have, in effect, been the preferred setting for this extraordinary expansion of knowledge and remain so today in scholarly terms. On the margins, both geographically and conceptually, of that emerging Black Atlantic framework, can be found the Hispanic mainland Caribbean nations from Mexico through Central America and Panama, to Colombia and Venezuela. Here one finds little recognition, in either popular or scholarly terms, of the regionís dominant role in the earliest Colonial slave trade or of the fact that people of African descent constituted the majority of non-indigenous populations long thereafter. Similarly, despite (or perhaps because of) the centrality of these people and imageries of Blackness in the later development of national identities and historical consciousness, these same nation states have often countenanced widespread practices of social, political, and regional exclusion of Blacks. This conference will begin to bridge this lacuna.
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