New Book—”Racialized Visions: Haiti and the Hispanic Caribbean”

Racialized Visions: Haiti and the Hispanic Caribbean, a collection of essays edited by Vanessa K. Valdés (The City College of New York-CUNY), examines the cultural impact of Haiti on the surrounding nations of the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico (published in the SUNY series Afro-Latinx Futures in December 2020).

Description: As a Francophone nation, Haiti is seldom studied in conjunction with its Spanish-speaking Caribbean neighbors. Racialized Visions challenges the notion that linguistic difference has kept the populations of these countries apart, instead highlighting ongoing exchanges between their writers, artists, and thinkers. Centering Haiti in this conversation also makes explicit the role that race—and, more specifically, anti-blackness—has played both in the region and in academic studies of it. Following the Revolution and Independence in 1804, Haiti was conflated with blackness. Spanish colonial powers used racist representations of Haiti to threaten their holdings in the Atlantic Ocean. In the years since, white elites in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico upheld Haiti as a symbol of barbarism and savagery. Racialized Visions powerfully refutes this symbolism. Across twelve essays, contributors demonstrate how cultural producers in these countries have resignified Haiti to mean liberation. An introduction and conclusion by the editor, Vanessa K. Valdés, as well as foreword by Myriam J. A. Chancy, provide valuable historical context and an overview of Afro-Latinx studies and its futures.

Racialized Visions analyzes a variety of literary works but also political diplomacy, monuments, and other discourses, in a tightly organized and energetic volume that offers a well-developed, and vital, theme: systematic analyses of the meaning of Haiti in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. The book coheres wonderfully around this motif and offers many entrées into the question of the significance of Haiti.” — Anne Eller, author of We Dream Together: Dominican Independence, Haiti, and the Fight for Caribbean Freedom

“This is a timely, well-conceived, and important contribution to the growing efforts by scholars, activists, and artists in the United States to think across and work through disciplinary, linguistic, and historical boundaries that have traditionally separated the study of Haiti from the rest of the Caribbean, particularly the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.” — April J. Mayes, author of The Mulatto Republic: Class, Race, and Dominican National Identity

Vanessa K. Valdés is Director of the Black Studies Program and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the City College of New York, City University of New York. Her books include Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, also published by SUNY Press.

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