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Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between Race and Place Hardcover – October 18, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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“This enlightening collection is destined to become essential reading for all those interested in the history of race, particularly as it pertains to the black presence in Central America. With its meticulous research, rich interpretive frameworks, and broad chronological sweep from the early colonial period into modern times, Blacks and Blackness in Central America will change how we think about racial mixture, nation-building, African survivals, black identity, and the development of society in Latin America. Thanks to this book, ‘Afro-Central America’ will become standard language in the vocabulary of the African Diaspora.”—Ben Vinson III, author of Bearing Arms for His Majesty: The Free-Colored Militia in Colonial Mexico


“This important collection of essays puts Central America firmly on the African Diaspora map. Blacks and Blackness in Central America is the one-stop volume that gathers together the leading scholars of the topic. They offer clear windows into their many years of research and discovery, collectively convincing the reader that Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica were far from marginal to the historical trajectories of people of African descent in the Americas.”—Matthew Restall, author of The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan


“[A] major contribution to the scholarly literature. . . .”
(Anne S. Macpherson American Historical Review)

“All the essays in this excellent volume, whether in colonial or post-colonial contexts across Central America, offer a new vision of blacks and blackness in the region.”
(Dario A. Euraque Ethnic and Racial Studies)

“A trailblazing effort, this volume represents an important contribution to Central American historiography and African diaspora studies. It should be considered required reading for students and specialists alike.”
(Andrew Fisher H-LatAm, H-Net Reviews)

“[A] captivating addition to the growing historiographical discussion on race. Africans have populated the shores of Central America since the 1500s. Yet rarely has a single work brought together such diligent contributing authors who provide the depths of discussion in such fascinating, unraveling ways.
(Margery Coulson-Clark Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians)

“... [T]aken together, the essays in the volume go a long way toward addressing the complicated and messy topic of the history of blacks in Central America, and they certainly have the potential to lead to studies that will indeed transform the ways we think about the Atlantic world, race in Central America, and the construction of national identities.”
(Elizabeth W. Kiddy History: Reviews of New Books)

From the Back Cover

"This important collection of essays puts Central America firmly on the African Diaspora map. "Blacks and Blackness in Central America" is the one-stop volume that gathers together the leading scholars of the topic. They offer clear windows into their many years of research and discovery, collectively convincing the reader that Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica were far from marginal to the historical trajectories of people of African descent in the Americas."--Matthew Restall, author of "The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (October 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822347873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822347873
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,209,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Devon L. Lee on March 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between Race and Place creates an interesting discourse that takes certain topics like mestizo identity, slave wage freedom, racial categories, and transnationalism to task by confronting popular discourse with alternative discourse. The discourse prevalent in this volume suggests that Blacks were not simply subjects to be dominated by their white counter-part, but were actors, enforcers and often times agents of nation-building disguised in popular discourse as of having something other than of African descent.

Gudmundson's and Wolfe's volume challenges scholars to reconsider popular discourse of agency and actors.
"The very same Hispanic or mestizo legislators and intellectuals discussed by Hooker as creators of Atlantic or Black otherness over the past two centuries are shown by Wolfe to have been mulatto presidents themselves, prior to their reinscription as mestizo or even white figures of commemoration, and by Melendez to have African forbearers in even the most irreproachable elite family trees."
In this sense, these essays challenge popular discourse of race, place and creolization. A key point in Paul Lokken's essay on Angolans in Amatitlan was that legal and social enforcement on racial categories was relatively weak, creating a large population of Afro-descent people of mixed heritage. Although lines often blurred, whites' belief in supremacy maintained oppositional sentiments that relegated Black identity to the margins, allowing for mobilization from both the grassroots and corporate elite of these slave societies whose collective identity sought to undermine oppressive supremacist notions and forces.
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