Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Congo Square: Crossroads of the Afro-Atlantic World

November 14th, 2009
1:00 - 6:00 PM

Location
Jazz & Heritage Center
1225 N. Rampart Street

Leading scholars on African and Caribbean culture, and their impact on New Orleans, will gather on Saturday, Nov. 14, for a symposium entitled Congo Square: Crossroads of the Afro-Atlantic World.”

(Presenter Ned Sublette was a former Rockefeller Fellow at Tulane’s Stone Center. Read the news article about Ned’s recent book release.)

The symposium is free and open to the public and the event is presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation as a part of the Foundation’s Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series.

The day following the symposium, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation will present the third annual Congo Square Rhythms Festival in nearby Armstrong Park. The festival is free and open to the public. It will feature music, food and a large crafts area. Performers include Ensemble Fatien (featuring Ivorian multi-instrumentalist Seguenon Kone, Dr. Michael White, Sunpie Barnes and others), the Kumbuka African Dance Ensemble and many more.

Congo Square: Crossroads of the Afro-Atlantic World” features Ned Sublette, author of The World That Made New Orleans, Yale University African culture scholar Robert Farris Thompson, musician Alex LaSalle of the Puerto Rican group Alma Moyó and others in a day-long series of discussions and workshops.

The final hour of the symposium will feature a drum workshop and a cocktail reception.

SCHEDULE:

1:00 p.m. Welcome and Introductions

  • Presentation by Ned Sublette, “Rocking the City, Cracking the Code: Bámbula at Congo Square”

2:30 p.m. Presentation by Robert Farris Thompson, “Kongo with a OK’”

3:30 p.m. Break

3:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Congo Square

  • Freddi Williams Evans: “Congo Square Through the Years”
  • Connie Zeanah Atkinson: “Place Publique: The Historical Congo Square”
  • Herreast Harrison and Robert Farris Thompson: A Dialogue
  • Luther Gray: “Advocating for Congo Square”

5:00 p.m. Drum Workshop (featuring Alex LaSalle and Luther Gray) and Cocktail Reception

Event Summary: Congo Square was the popular but never official name for the commons that is now part of Armstrong Park, across Rampart Street from the French Quarter in New Orleans. It has the status of sacred space in African-American culture, and the gatherings that took place there constitute a singular and fundamental phenomenon in the musical and cultural history of the United States. Beginning as a Sunday arketplace, by the early 19th Century that commons had become the only place in the United States where enslaved people could gather en masse to sing, drum and dance. It was a place of memory and experimentation, a commercial center, and a party — all in a city thatwould in many essential respects be recognizable to New Orleanians today. This symposium brings together a variety of scholars and cultural practitioners to consider the facts, meaning, and legacy of Congo Square.

Presentation Summaries:

Ned Sublette: “Rocking the City, Cracking the Code: Bámbula at Congo Square”
1:10 p.m.

One of the great frustrations in thinking about Congo Square is that we have no recordings of how it sounded. Contemporary accounts, most notably Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s 1819 description with pictures, describe dense activity and loud, diverse sound, or, as another traveler observed that same year: the “African slaves” would “assemble on the green by the swamp and rock the city with their Congo dances.”

But we are not confined to the stray written evidence handed down by culturally naïve passers-by. We also have a thriving oral culture to consult. While we might not be able to recapture the composite sound of Congo Square, we know some things about the music there. There was at least one element for which we have a pretty good living relative today: the bámbula. The bámbula one might have heard at Congo Square in 1819 bore no small resemblance to the way bámbula is played today in western Puerto Rico. Cousins of this style can be heard in eastern Cuba and Guadeloupe, among other places. This, in turn, is a consequence of one of the generative explosions of popular music in the Western hemisphere: the diaspora occasioned by the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to 1804.

Appearing with Ned Sublette will be Alex LaSalle, a specialist in the music of western Puerto Rico, who will demonstrate the way bámbula is played in the contemporary and historical context.

Robert Farris Thompson: “Kongo with a K”
2:30 p.m.

The presentation will consist of two sections, both bearing on Creole continuities of Kongo culture in the Americas. First are the well-known continuities, the conga drum, the conga line, the congo grind. But jug-bands in early jazz also trace back to Kongo, as do the twist [zka nitu], the
ring-shout, and very likely the Charleston, being that South Carolina is famous for a Kongo house built in the late 19th Century by a former slave, Kongo-influenced face-jugs with inserted kaolin eyes and cut teeth, and a pond associated with the powerful Kongo water spirits, the simbi.

Kongo is famous for its writing system [bidimbu] and as a direct extension of that are time-resistant gestures practiced there and here over the last 200 years: arms akimbo, hands above head with fingers wide spread, right hand forward and left on hip. These echo and re-echo in art historical documents which we touch upon briefly. In sum, specific musical, choreographic and gestural traditions will be shown to link Black Americas with the noble civilization of the kingdom of Kongo.

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Sociology Colloquium Series to host talk by Javier Auyero on collusion and violence in Argentina

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Join the Sociology Department at Tulane University in welcoming Dr. Javier Auyero, for a talk titled The Ambivalent State: Collusion and Violence in Latin America on Thursday, January 24, at 3:30 PM.

Drawing upon long-term ethnographic fieldwork in a poor high-crime neighborhood of Argentina and documentary evidence from court cases involving drug traffickers and police officers, this talk examines the clandestine connections between participants in the illicit drug trade and members of the state security forces – and their impact on skyrocketing urban violence. The presentation unpacks the much-referred to (but seldom scrutinized) content of police-criminal collusion reconstructing the resources, relational practices, and processes at its core. The talk makes its three-fold argument by way of empirical demonstration: a) illicit relationships between police agents and traffickers serve the latter to achieve a quasi-monopoly in the use of force over a territory that is central to the prosecution of their illegal trade, b) clandestine relationships between police officers and traffickers feed the systemic violence that characterizes the market of illegal drugs and contributes to localized violence, and c) police-trafficker collusion fosters widespread skepticism about law-enforcement among residents of low-income violent neighborhoods.

Dr. Javier Auyero is the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long in Latin American Sociology at the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of Poor People’s Politics, Contentious Lives, Routine Politics and Violence in Argentina, and Patients of the State. Together with Débora Swistun, he co-authored Flammable: Environmental Suffering in an Argentine Shantytown. His new book, In Harm’s Way: The dynamics of urban violence, co-authored with María Fernanda Berti, was recently published by Princeton University Press. He is also the editor of Invisible City: Life and Labor in Austin, Texas (published this year by University of Texas Press), and co-editor – with Philippe Bourgois and Nancy Scheper-Hughes – of Violence at the Urban Margins (published this year by Oxford University Press).

Stone Center for Latin American Studies to host 11th annual Workshop on Field Research Methods

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Join us at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies for the 11th Annual Weekend Workshop on Field Research Methods on Saturday, January 26, 2019. The deadline to apply for the workshop is January 15, 2019.

How will you get the data you need for your thesis or dissertation? Do you envision immersing yourself for months in the local culture, or tromping the hills and farms seeking respondents? Sorting through dusty archives? Observing musicians at work in the plaza? Downloading and crunching numbers on a computer? For any of these approaches: How might you get there, from here?

This workshop aims to help you approach your data collection and analysis for your thesis or dissertation topic, and to adapt and refine your topic to be more feasible. You will take your research project ideas to the next stop—whatever that may be, include raising travel grants. Learn to:

  • Plan more efficiently, feasible, and rewarding fieldwork
  • Prepare more compelling and persuasive grant proposals
  • Navigate choices of research methods and course offerings on campus
  • Become a better research and fieldwork team-member

Format
This is an engaged, hands-on, informal workshop. Everyone shares ideas and participates. We will explore and compare research approaches, share experiences and brainstorm alternatives. You will be encouraged to think differently about your topic, questions, and study sites as well as language preparation, budgets, and logistics. The participatory format is intended to spark constructive new thinking, strategies, and student networks to continue learning about (and conducting) field research.

Who is leading this?
Laura Murphy, PhD, faculty in Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, and affiliate faculty to the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

Who is this for?
This workshop is targeted to Stone Center graduate students as well as graduate students from other programs (GOHB, CCC, humanities, sciences, and others) if space is available. The workshop will be particularly helpful for those who envision research with human subjects.

Sign up
Sign up as soon as you can! Apply by January 15, 2019, at the latest to confirm your stop. Send an email with the following details:

  • Your name
  • Department and Degree program
  • Year at Tulane
  • Prior experience in research, especially field research
  • Academic training in research design and methods
  • Include a 1-paragraph statement of your current research interests and immediate plans/needs (i.e. organize summer field research)

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Not for credit.

For more information and/or to apply: Contact Laura Murphy or Jimmy Huck.

K-12 Professional Development Opportunity: Resources and Pedagogy on Latin American Studies

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On Saturday, January 26, 2019, join us at the Louisiana Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) Annual Meeting for a professional development opportunity. This year’s meeting will include a presentation on pedagogy by Lolla Blas Troncoso, a middle school Spanish Instructor at the Isidore Newman School and a session on the Latin American Resources available at Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies by Denise Woltering-Vargas, Senior Program Manager at Tulane University’s Stone Center Latin American Studies.

This conference is free and open to all educators and membership in the AATSP is not required. Please RSVP as space is limited. Please RSVP to Stephanie Davis.

The event will be held in the Reynolds Room at the Isidore Newman School. Please use the Loyola Street Lower School entrance, located at 5320 Loyola, the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Loyola Street.

K-12 Educator Workshop at the Audubon Zoo: Rescuing the Rainforests

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Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies in collaboration with the Audubon Nature Institute will be hosting a K-12 educator workshop Rescuing the Rainforest at the Audubon Zoo on Saturday, February 2, 2019. Rescuing the Rainforest will focus on conservation efforts and environment of Central American rainforests. This workshop is a great way to learn how to bring real world science into your classroom. Activities will incorporate a variety of sciences and other subjects including: art, environmental science, cultural components, anthropology, computer science and technology. While it is geared for middle and high school teachers, this workshop is open to all educators formal and informal. We are delighted to have Dr. Katharine Jack, Professor of Anthropology and Director of Environmental Studies at Tulane University, join us for this workshop.

Please register here. The cost is $45.00 per participant. Lunch will be provided.

Please contact educationprograms@auduboninstitute.org for additional information.

Latin American Library to host Brazilian photographer João Farkas for talk and exhibit Amazônia Ocupada

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The Latin American Library in collaboration with the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and the Departments of History and Spanish & Portuguese at Tulane University will be hosting an exhibit opening and talk titled Amazônia Ocupada, featuring Brazilian photographer João Farkas on Friday, February 8, 2019. The evening will begin with a conversation between João Farkas and professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Christopher Dunn. A reception will follow.

Amazônia Ocupada features the work of Brazilian photographer João Farkas, who documented the mass migration of workers from throughout Brazil who came to the Amazon basin in the 1980s and 1990s to try their luck in gold mining, logging and cattle ranching, often with devastating effects on the environment and the indigenous peoples of the region. The exhibit also includes rare books, maps, and other material from the special collections of The Latin American Library tracing Western conceptualizations of the Amazon region beginning with the earliest post-contact explorations in the 16th century to 20th century narratives about the region.

João Farkas is one of Brazil’s leading documentary and environmental photographers with projects that document life in the coastal village of Trancoso, Bahia, the carnival masks of Maragojipe, Bahia, and the world’s largest tropical wetland, the Pantanal, as well as the occupation of the Amazon.

A related symposium featuring historians and anthropologists of the Amazon region will be held on Saturday February 9, 2019, in Jones Hall 100A, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. More information forthcoming.

For more information, contact Madeline White via phone (504) 865-5681 or email lal@tulane.edu.

These events are sponsored by The Latin American Library, the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and the Departments of History and Spanish & Portuguese at Tulane University.

Photo credit: João Farkas Amazonia

In the Shadows of Slavery and Colonialism: A Symposium on Intersectionality and the Law

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The Tulane and New Orleans communities are invited to join the Newcomb College Institute (NCI) for a day-long symposium In the Shadows of Slavery and Colonialism: A Symposium on Intersectionality and the Law, which provides an opportunity for researchers affiliated with NCI to engage with distinguished scholars in their field around the legal and political legacies of slavery and colonialism through an intersectional lens.

The researchers for the 2019 symposium are scholars who have been NCI postdoctoral fellows in the past two years. The Symposium theme was selected based on shared issues in the work of these researchers. They are Dr. Bonnie Lucero of the University of Houston and Dr. Emma Shakeshaft of the ACLU of Wisconsin, both of whom were Law & Society Fellows at NCI from 2017-2018, and Dr. Maria R. Montalvo, NCI’s 2018-2019 Bonquois Fellow in Women’s History in the Gulf South.

NCI has been awarded a Carol Lavin Bernick Faculty Grant from Tulane to host this inaugural symposium with the hope and intention that it will become a biennial event. In 2016 the Carol Lavin Bernick Family Foundation initiated this unique grant program to support the research and teaching of Tulane faculty.

This year’s symposium will consist of three sessions, each of which includes a discussion between one NCI researcher, her chosen distinguished scholar, and the audience. The researchers will prepare papers in advance for these sessions. (RSVP below to receive copies of pre-circulated materials.)

The symposium will also include a Fridays at Newcomb lunchtime panel with all three invited scholars. The panel will be moderated by Tulane Professor Laura Rosanne Adderley and will explore the usefulness of intersectionality as a theoretical framework for revealing the legacies of slavery and colonialism. Fridays at Newcomb is a lecture series with speakers across disciplines that provides students with the opportunity to learn about subjects outside of their majors. Lunch is provided at every Fridays at Newcomb lecture and they are each free and open to the public.

The schedule will be as follows:

8:30 – 8:45 AM – Tulane President Michael Fitts has been invited to give opening remarks

8:45 – 10:00 AM – Bonnie Lucero and Deirdre Cooper Owens, a conversation about Dr. Lucero’s paper, “Reproducing Racial Hierarchy in Cuba’s Slave Society.” RSVP recommended.

10:15 – 11:30 AM – Emma Shakeshaft and Dorothy Roberts, a conversation about Dr. Shakeshaft’s paper, Race, Membership, and Sovereignty: the Benefits of Using a Comparative Approach When Analyzing Race in Transracial Adoption Cases. RSVP recommended.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – Fridays at Newcomb, In the Shadows of Slavery and Colonialism: The Uses of Intersectionality, Dorothy Roberts, Marisa Fuentes, and Deirdre Cooper Owens, moderated by Laura Rosanne Adderley, Associate Professor of History and Director of Africana Studies at Tulane University

1:30 PM – 2:45 PM – Maria R. Montalvo and Marisa J. Fuentes, a conversation about Dr. Montalvo’s paper, The Burden of Proof: Race, Freedom, and Litigation in the 1800s. RSVP recommended.

RSVP Information

In order to ensure the highest quality of engagement with each scholar’s work, NCI will collect RSVPs and will make the research essays available in advance to those who plan to attend the symposium sessions. Note that no RSVP is necessary for attendance at the Fridays at Newcomb lunchtime panel.

RSVP HERE