Thursday, March 3, 4:15 p.m.
Title: Alice Walker's Mestiza
Abstract: In this talk, I will argue that Alice Walker’s 1998 novel, "By the Light of My Father’s Smile", sketched out a hemispheric blackness that recognizes the critical importance of Mexico as a site of black diasporic consciousness that has been underexplored despite that country’s long history of appealing to African Americans in times of oppressive crisis.
This novel, much of which is set in the Sierra Madre mountains of northwestern Mexico, tells the tales of the two daughters of African American anthropologists who have traveled down to the region in order to study the Mundo Indians, a group of rather spiritual people descended from black and indigenous settlers who escaped southward during the Civil War.
In inventing this tribe, Walker asks us to consider how to best reincorporate Mexico into black Americans’ understanding of what José Martí famously called “Our America,” reorienting blackness’ positionality within and attachment to “America” by reinvigorating a history that has ostensibly been lost to the archive.