What is the real meaning of “the zombie” in Junot Díaz’s short story and why do we think of it as the ‘walking dead’? What might Gabriel García Márquez’s magical realism look like in Angola? Or how does a Chicano poem dialogue with the removal of white imperialist monuments? How are memory sites in fiction and UNESCO memorials in Africa related? How are Latinx and Latin American writers haunted by African liberation wars of the 20th century?
Departing from the definitions of coloniality and postcoloniality this course reads the literary and cultural experiences of those impacted by modernity in all of its manifestations: economic, political, epistemic, racial, sexual, and in terms of gender. Because independence movements, slavery’s abolition, and revolutions did not extinguish what Aníbal Quijano terms “the coloniality of power,” we will also engage with the “Decolonial”—a school of thought emerging mostly from Latin America—as it attempts to reveal colonial influences undergirding subaltern practice. This course will thus seek to read diverse cultural representations (film, music, poetry, the short story, the novel) of a 20th and 21st century Americas and West Africa, through the lens of the decolonial. Main decolonial critics we will engage in: Mignolo, Jacqui Alexander, Lugones, Mbembe, Ngugi, Mudimbe, José David Saldívar, Emma Pérez, and Chela Sandoval.
This comparative and interdisciplinary course challenges students to question the functionality of memorials and memorialization in the Global South. Students confront the relationship between memory and narrative and their role in addressing the trauma of colonization, the Slave Trade, and decolonization wars within Latino, Latin American and West African literature. Often pairing the readings with prominent UNESCO-sponsored memorials or other landmarks, this course endeavors to have students question how a transnational Americas remembers itself, against the odds of imperialist, neoliberalist, and heteronormative hegemonies, and includes discussions on the Cuban revolution, the Cold war, the Nicaraguan civil war, the decolonizing wars in the Congo and Angola, and the explosion of neoliberalism, while engaging in different styles of writing that include magical realism, the uncanny, sci-fi, and the speculative, from renowned voices such as Junot Díaz, Sandra Cisneros, Achy Obejas, Camara Laye, Wole Soyinka, Gabriel García Márquez, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, and director Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer).
I currently serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, published by Duke University Press
Meridians, an interdisciplinary feminist journal, provides a forum for the finest scholarship and creative work by and about women of color in US and international contexts.
I am Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor in the Department of Romance Studies at Duke University. My main interests are literatures of the Global South, specifically Latinx, Latin American and African literatures. I work at the intersection of Atlantic world studies, African diaspora studies, and World Literature.
My comparative focus is also devoted to archival and fieldwork research. I have spent time in France and its départements d’outre mer, specifically in French Guiana, as well as Brazil, Benin, Senegal, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. My research has involved “Human Subject” interviews mainly along the UNESCO Slave Route in Africa, and colonial archive consultation across the Atlantic World.
Before joining Duke, I was an assistant professor of English and Latinx studies at the University of Notre Dame, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Latina/Latino Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an Andrew Mellon ACLS fellow.