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The 2020 Lozano Long Conference Black Women’s Intellectual Contributions to the Americas
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Faculty Organizers: Christen Smith (AADS and Anthropology), Lorraine Leu (LLILAS and Spanish & Portuguese) and Daina Ramey Berry (History and AADS)

2/20/2020 to 2/21/2020
When: Thursday, February 20, 2020
Where: Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
2300 Red River St
Austin, Texas 
United States

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Black women from Latin America have largely been excluded from contemporary debates in Black and Latin American Studies. Race, gender/sexuality, and regional origin (which is inherently a classed categorization) compound to mute voices in unique ways. The duality of racism and sexism rampant in the Latin American academy erases Black women from Latin American studies. Black women are erased from Black studies because of its traditionally patriarchal structure. And Black women from Latin America have been overlooked in the canon of Black women’s studies because of the tendency to overemphasize the experiences of English-speaking Black women within this global project. As a result, there is a need to radically diversify the discourses of each of these fields and to foreground Black women’s contributions from Latin America to philosophical and political thought in the Americas. This conference seeks to address that need by engaging with Black women’s intellectual contributions to the Americas from the perspective of the South: Latin America.

We use the term South as a way to put Latin America in conversation with the Circum-Caribbean (a region conceptualized from coastal South America northward to the U.S. South). This conceptual zone has historically been marginalized in the public imagination as exotic, backward, out of the way, and specifically, Black. We also imagine the South to be a frame that allows us to push back against the coloniality of modern nation-state and regional formations that are both racialized and gendered. National borders and boundaries are not innocent configurations—rather, they are political land divisions steeped in the coloniality of power and designed to create arbitrary divisions on what is in fact indigenous land. By centering Spanish, Portuguese, indigenous, and African language-speaking experiences from Latin America, we also seek to shift our interpretation of the South from an imperialistic North perspective to a decolonial non-anglophone perspective.

Black women from Latin America have made significant theoretical and philosophical interventions across the region from the Conquest period forward. Employing a multi-disciplinary, transnational perspective, this conference will rethink the role that Black women’s thought and praxis have played in defining the socio-political and cultural landscape of the Americas for the past four hundred years, centering the experiences of Black women in Latin America and the movement of Black women throughout the Americas: migration, transit, and cultural flows. In this way, this conference will critically engage with Black women’s transnationalism, movement, cosmopolitanism, and agency through migration and language. By locating Black women as agents of theory, movement, politics, and culture, this two-day conversation will re-cast Black women as theorizers and transnational agents of change.

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