The Politics of Race in Panama: Afro-Hispanic and West by Sonja Stephenson Watson

By Sonja Stephenson Watson

“Delves into the old convergence of peoples and cultural traditions that either increase and problematize notions of nationwide belonging, identification, tradition, and citizenship.”—Antonio D. Tillis, editor of Critical views on Afro-Latin American Literature


“With wealthy element and theoretical complexity, Watson reinterprets Panamanian literature, dismantling longstanding nationalist interpretations and linking the rustic to the Black Atlantic and past. a fascinating and demanding contribution to our realizing of Afro-Latin America.”—Peter Szok, writer of Wolf Tracks: renowned artwork and Re-Africanization in Twentieth-Century Panama


“Illuminates the deeper discourse of African-descendant identities that runs via Panama and different primary American countries.”—Dawn Duke, writer of Literary ardour, Ideological dedication: towards a Legacy of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian ladies Writers


This quantity tells the tale of 2 cultural teams: Afro-Hispanics, whose ancestors got here to Panama as African slaves, and West Indians from the English-speaking international locations of Jamaica and Barbados who arrived through the mid-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries to construct the railroad and the Panama Canal.

While Afro-Hispanics assimilated after centuries of mestizaje (race blending) and now establish with their Spanish background, West Indians carry to their British Caribbean roots and establish extra heavily with Africa and the Caribbean.

By reading the writing of black Panamanian authors, Sonja Watson highlights how race is outlined, contested, and inscribed in Panama. She discusses the cultural, racial, and nationwide tensions that hinder those teams from forging a shared Afro-Panamanian identification, finally revealing why ethnically various Afro-descendant populations proceed to fight to create racial team spirit in international locations throughout Latin the United States and the Caribbean.


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Extra resources for The Politics of Race in Panama: Afro-Hispanic and West Indian Literary Discourses of Contention

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Thus, throughout the period of nation building, black leaders and writers in Panama sacrificed a racialized discourse for a patriotic one. Leaders such as Juan B. Sosa (1870– 1920), a prominent figure in Panama’s Partido Liberal de Negros [Black Liberal Party], and Carlos A. 1 The leaders’ nationalistic politics resonate with that of other black trailblazers throughout the African Diaspora who set aside their personal or racial agenda in favor of the nation. 2 The nationalistic agenda colored the writings of Afro-Hispanic poets as well.

Although poetic negrism is often associated with the stereotypical portrayal and sexual exploitation of the black (female) corpus by white male Caribbean writers (Palés Matos, Ballagas, del Cabral) on the one hand and the onomatopoeic verses of Guillén on the other, poetic negrism also colored the writings and intellectualism of latenineteenth- and early twentieth-century black literary thinkers. These “pre-negrista” writers leaned toward national affiliation and the homogeneous projects of whitening and mestizaje.

He escaped reality and always lived in a complete state of self-deception] (cited in Figueroa Navarro 16). “Ego sum” and “Claroscuro” illustrated not only the problematic that language posed for Hernández but also that he was conflicted because of his blackness and Panama’s reaction to it. According to the Panamanian literary critic Ismael García, Hernández’s color was a hindrance to his literary success, which was not fully recognized until after his death (Historia 69). 10 He points out that Miró is the only “authentic” poet of this generation, as Peña acknowledges (114).

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