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Black Iberia was a research workshop funded by the John Fell Fund and organised by Dr Diana Berruezo-Sánchez on 5-6 July 2022. The workshop has explored the social and cultural practices of black Africans in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Iberia through a diverse set of primary texts and sources, such as literary representations and historical records. It has gathered international scholars based in the US, the UK, Spain, and Brazil, and has promoted new understandings of Afroiberian experiences in early modern Iberia. The workshop has gathered Historians, Musicologists, Anthropologists and Scholars of Literature fostering interdisciplinary discussions about sources engaging with the lives and experiences of black Africans and their cultural representations. This workshop follows the success of a prior seminar at the Faculty, From Presence to Action: Black Africans' Agency in Early Modern Spain (2020).
Black Iberia has presented sources to understand the empowerment and resistance of black communities in early modern Iberia. Prof Baltasar Fra Molinero (Bates College) explores the case of black woman Catalina Déniz who spoke up for her profession and personhood as she was accused of witchcraft by the Inquisition; Dr Chloe Ireton (University College London) studies the case file of black woman Antonia, who used various strategies to gain freedom in sixteenth-century Seville. The spaces of black agency have also been explored in seventeenth-century literary texts. Dr Cornesha Tweede (University of Oregon) elaborates on the empowerment of black female bodies in Mariana de Carvajal’s short story "La industria vence desdenes"; Dr Diana Berruezo-Sánchez (University of Oxford/ Universitat de Barcelona) offers new readings of black literacy in the short play "La negra lectora"; and literary representations vis-à-vis historical records are read by Prof Alberto Del Campo (University Pablo de Olavide) to explore black power in domestic spaces. Using the musical and literary genre of villancicos de negros, Dr Josep Pujol i Coll (Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya) investigates black characters informing of Afroiberian communities’ daily routines and spaces of sociability; and using festive and musical gatherings, PhD candidate Andrea Rueda (Universidad Pablo de Olavide) informs of agentic practices of black communities in the southern city of Gibraleón. Dr Eduardo Corona Pérez (Universidade Federale de Minas Gerais/ Universidad de Sevilla) analyses the complicated status of these communities fighting for their freedom through nuanced terminology in court records. Dr Manuel Olmedo Gobante (University of Arkansas) proposes an overview of the racial history of Spain centering on clues to teaching early modern Afroiberian communities in today’s university syllabuses. On that note, Dr Reyes Lázaro (Smith College) exemplifies the teaching of early modern literary texts and problematizes the seventeenth-century short play "El entremés de los negros". Prof Elizabeth Wright (University of Georgia) explores the written and visual representation of black musicians in early sixteenth-century Lisbon.

For more details on the event please see here.