Studies on the Black Atlantic and the Black Pacific

Authored by: Sérgio Costa , Manuel Góngora-Mera

Routledge Handbook of Afro-Latin American Studies

Print publication date:  November  2022
Online publication date:  November  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367691431
eBook ISBN: 9781003159247
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781003159247-20

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Abstract

The concepts and theories of the Black Atlantic, especially following the line of interpretation developed by Paul Gilroy, have strongly influenced the debates on racism and anti-racism in Latin America and the Caribbean. For good reasons: Gilroy defines the Black Atlantic in a radically constructivist way, so that belonging to the imagined space of the African diaspora is not defined by geography or physical features, but by common social experiences and concrete political and cultural connections. Despite its many merits, the term Black Atlantic has limits for application to the Latin American context, as has been pointed out by different critics. By focusing on British colonial history, the idea of the Black Atlantic does not do justice to the diversity of experiences in the African diaspora and the overlaps between the common experiences and struggles of the African diaspora and indigenous communities. Particularly problematic is the neglect of the developments of the diaspora on the Pacific coasts. In the Latin American case, this means that the Afrodescendent populations that have settled from Michoacan and Guerrero in Mexico to the Arica y Parinacota region in Chile are not visible in the Black Atlantic theories. The aim of this chapter is not to invalidate the thesis of the Black Atlantic, but to correct and expand it so that it can better reflect the history and the present of the Afrodescendent populations of Latin America. To this end, the chapter, first, reconstructs the notion of the Black Atlantic. Second, it reconstructs the criticisms directed at the concept and seeks to show how the experience of the African diaspora in Latin America can be described as situated between the Black Atlantic and the Black Pacific. Finally, this conceptual development is exemplified by the study of the trajectories of Afrodescendent populations in the Pacific regions between Ecuador and Colombia.

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