New Perspectives on Women in the 20th-Century Caribbean World, Part 1: Migrations

AHA Session 83
Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Delaware Suite A (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)
Natanya Duncan, Lehigh University
Lara E. Putnam, University of Pittsburgh

Session Abstract

This double panel explores twentieth century Caribbean history from the standpoint of women. Recent works on Caribbean women’s lives provide key insights into the history of African enslavement and contemporary political movements. Studies of migration and nation formation situate women as one of many social actors who challenged imperialism and colonial rule, government corruption, racism, and labor exploitation. Yet we know less about how women’s activist-intellectual traditions unfolded throughout the twentieth century.

By treating Caribbean women’s activism as a category of analysis, this panel traces the evolution of gender politics throughout the region and in New York City. It employs an intersectional analysis that acknowledges how racial, ethnic, and national dynamics informed gender ideologies. Such an approach raises the following questions: What might we learn from comparing women’s activist strategies across national and colonial borders? What patterns emerge when studying the lives of women from British, Dutch, and United States colonies, as well as those in Haiti and Cuba? In what ways do ideas of womanhood reflect transnational social and cultural movements? Finally, what new frames might historians develop for examining Caribbean feminist thought?

Each panel is organized to address two major themes. The first panel focuses on migrations, while the second panel emphasizes subject making within national contexts. Taken together, the two panels seek to create a multi-regional dialogue that presents new approaches for the historical study of women and citizenship, the Caribbean, anti-colonialism, and the African Diaspora.