Activating the Past: Latin America in the Black Atlantic, Day One

The goal of this conference is to disclose "hidden" historical references to local and regional encounters with the trans-Atlantic slave trade, focusing on religious practices and artifacts that shaped changing political and economic relationships in "fetishized" forms of power and value.

Saturday, April 23, 2005
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
6275 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Although the history of the Atlantic slave trade is rarely acknowledged in the popular imagination of West Africa and the Creole Caribbean, it has retreated, so to speak, within ritual associations and other practices as a restricted, secret history that is activated in various social and sacred domains.

We will highlight significant variations within regional worlds on both sides of the Atlantic. In West Africa, comparison of port cities along the coast will also extend to northern territories in the hinterlands where slave raiding occurred but is rarely acknowledged. In the Caribbean, regional contrasts between coastal and hinterland communities and social types will relate figures of the Montero, the Jíbaro, the Indio and the Caboclo to their ritual representations in Santería, Vodou, and Candomblé.


I. Critical Horizons in Black Atlantic Studies

  • Welcoming Remarks
    Andrew Apter and Robin Derby, History, UCLA
  • The Dialogics of Diaspora
    Kevin Yelvington, Anthropology, University of South Florida
  • Beyond El Mina: Memories of the Slave Trade in Northern Ghana (film)
    Jack Agamba, African Studies, UCLA


Keynote Speaker

  • African, Amerindian, European -- Interface, Interaction, Intercourse
    Paul Lovejoy, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History,York University
  • Commentator: Robert Hill, History/ The Marcus Garvey Papers Project, UCLA


II. Activating the Past

  • Memories of the Dream World: Historical Perspectives on Witchcraft among the Diola of Southern Senegal
    Robert Baum, History, Iowa State University
  • Vodu Angels of History
    Judy Rosenthal, Anthropology, University of Michigan-Flint

coffee break

  • The Middle Passage and West Indian Creolization
    John Nunley, Saint Louis Art Museum
  • Recasting Creolization and Syncretism from the Perspective of Caribbean Hinduism: the Case of Ecstatic Shakti Puja in Trinidad
    Keith McNeal, Anthropology, UCSD
  • Commentator: Patrick Polk, World Arts and Cultures, UCLA

This conference is funded by the UCLA International Institute and the Burkle Center for International Relations through a Global Impact Research Initiative grant, and the Latin American Center.

For more information, please contact

Parking is available in Parking Lot 3 (enter from Hilgard Avenue) or Parking Lot 5, turn from Sunset Boulevard onto Royce Drive. Due to the Los Angeles Book Fair on campus, drivers are advised to park early, by 9:00 am because parking will be very busy after that time.

Cost : Event is FREE and OPEN to the public.

Sponsor(s): African Studies Center, Latin American Institute, UCLA International Institute