Why Caribbean Women’s History Matters

AHA Session 32
Conference on Latin American History 4
Thursday, January 7, 2016: 3:30 PM-5:30 PM
Room A601 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level)
Eileen J. Findlay, American University
Michelle Chi Chase, Bloomfield College
Joan Victoria Flores-Villalobos, New York University
Anne Macpherson, College at Brockport (State University of New York)
Tyesha Maddox, New York University
Michele Johnson, York University

Session Abstract

From Toussaint L'Overture to Fidel Castro, scholarship and imaginaries of the Caribbean have repeatedly privileged male actors and masculine perspectives, in effect silencing women's narratives. Extending the insights of AHA 2015's panel “Why Caribbean History Matters,” this roundtable contends that the Caribbean's importance to capitalism, race, freedom, slavery, colonialism, migration, activism, and modernity, cannot be understood without an analysis of women's critical roles in these processes. The scholars assembled will discuss topics as wide as women’s participation in the Cuban Revolution, women's economic roles in early-twentieth century remittances, migrant West Indian women's organizing in social and cultural institutions, and the foundational importance of gender to historical transitions and resistance in Spanish-colonized and British-colonized zones, ultimately focusing on women's centrality to understanding the history of the Caribbean. The roundtable will invite scholars to reconsider women's cultural, political, and economic labor as constitutive of the Caribbean. It does not attempt to merely add women, nor to give them a mythical role in conceptions of the Caribbean. Rather, it sees women's work and experiences as fundamentally intertwined in all aspects of complex Caribbean histories. As the AHA focuses on global migrations this year, a theme central to understanding Caribbean history, this roundtable will address fundamental questions about the “gender” of migration.

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