Afrocubanas: Translating Black Cuban Feminisms


Friday, October 2, 2020, 12:00pm to 2:00pm

To watch the recording, click here

Speaker: Dr. Devyn Spence Benson, Associate Professor of Africana and Latin American Studies and Chair of the Department of Africana Studies, Davidson College
Moderated by: Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics; Professor of African and African American Studies; Chair, Cuba Studies Program

In this talk, Dr. Devyn Spence Benson examines the evolution of black women’s organizing in Havana from a working group to an island-wide intellectual project leading to the group’s first book Afrocubanas: Historia, pensamiento, and prácticas culturales (2011). The book provides new histories, analysis, and testimonies about black women’s lives to challenges negative stereotypes about Afrocubanas in Cuba. Benson will share the process that led to the new English edition (Rowman and Littlefield, 2020), examine the politics of translating black Cuban women’s experiences into English, and explore how translation serves as an act of black activism.

Devyn Spence Benson is a historian of 19th-20th century Latin America with a focus on race and revolution in Cuba. She has taught at UNC-Chapel Hill, Williams College, Louisiana State University and now Davidson College. She is the author of published articles and reviews in the Hispanic American Historical Review, Journal of Transnational American Studies, Cuban Studies, World Policy Journal, and PALARA: Publication of the Afro-Latin / American Research Association. Benson's work has been supported by the Doris G. Quinn, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS), and Gaius Charles Bolin dissertation fellowships. She has also held residencies at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem and the WEB DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Benson's first book, Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution (UNC press, 2016) is based on over 18 months of field research in Cuba where she has traveled annually since 2003. Her newest project Black Consciousness in Cuba: The Untold Revolution explores the trans-Caribbean collaborations between English, French-, and Spanish-speaking black Caribbean intellectuals to show how Caribbean black consciousness flourished in Cuba in the 1960s and 1970s. This book project has been supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) year-long fellowship and is under contract with UNC press. In her spare time, Benson likes to read, play tennis, and cheer on her UNC Tarheels!

Presented in collaboration with Cuban American Undergraduate Student Association - CAUSA