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Brown Bag Lecture “A Creole Family and Its Slaves in Saint-Domingue and Cuba: A Narrative of a Trans-Atlantic Experience”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
12:00 AM
202 S. Thayer St, Room 1022, Ann Arbor, MI

Marial Iglesias, visiting fellow, University of Havana

A family of French planters in Jérémie, in southern Saint-Domingue, whose world falls apart due to the revolution in Haiti, recreates the economy (material and moral) of the coffee plantation in Cuba. The lives of the Despaignes, both masters and slaves, descendants of Europeans and the offspring of Africans, were tied for three generations to a piece of land in the mountains of el Cobre, near Santiago de Cuba, whose exploitation resulted in a bonanza for the white owners and in physical violence and dehumanization for its victims. Half a century later, the outbreak of the Cuban wars of independence from Spain emancipated the numerous slaves from the plantation. Their citizen status, in the Cuban Republic of the twentieth century, was put to the test as the 1912 uprising of the Independent Party of Color traumatically brought back the memory of Haiti to Cuba.

Marial Iglesias Utset worked as a professor of philosophy and history at the University of Havana for the past 25 years. Her book Las metáforas del cambio en la vida cotidiana, a history of everyday life in Cuba during the US military occupation (1898-1902), has received several prizes, including the Clarence H. Haring Prize, a quinquennial prize awarded by the American Historical Association. The book has been recently translated into English and published by the University of North Carolina Press under the title A Cultural History of Cuba during the US Occupation, 1898-1902. For her current research project, “A Creole Family and Its Slaves in Saint-Domingue and Cuba: A Narrative of a Trans-Atlantic Experience,” a narration of the Atlantic travels of a single family and its slaves that links the lives of Europeans born on the French Atlantic coast, people from west-central Africa, and Caribbean Creoles, she has been awarded a long-term fellowship from the John Carter Brown Library.