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Thursday February 2nd

Paulette Ramsay wants to highlight the importance of the Afro-Mexican diaspora

Professor Paulette Ramsay discusses the Afro-Mexican diaspora in the Student Store.
Buy Photos Professor Paulette Ramsay discusses the Afro-Mexican diaspora in the Student Store.

Paulette Ramsay, a senior lecturer in Spanish at the University of the West Indies, introduced her new book about the history of Afro-Mexicans being ignored by mainstream Mexican society in a lecture on Thursday.

Her new book is called "Afro-Mexican Constructions of Diaspora, Gender, Identity and Nation."

“In all of (the) continent of Latin America, there are groups of people of African decent whose presence is often denied by their respective societies. Mexico is no different,” Ramsay said. “My research expands the existing critical materials of Afro-Mexico and contests Mexico’s definition of itself as a homogeneous mestizo nation.”

The history of Afro-Mexicans could be traced back to the early colonial period when early slaves were brought by their Spanish masters, but their existence has been lesser known.

“Afro-Mexicans maintained their distinctive cultural identities through their culinary style, religious practices and their folk dances, such as the devil dance,” she said.

Sophomore Gladys Sanchez, double majoring in history and political science, came to the event without knowing too much about this topic.

“I came to this event because, originally, I saw it on Facebook and coming from the Mexican heritage, I didn’t know much about the Afro-Mexicans,” Sanchez said.

Ellie Farmer, a sophomore majoring in women's and gender studies, said she learned a lot from the lecture.

“I learned that, even though the readings that we’ve read, like the Gloria Anzaldua’s reading, kind of create the tone of quality like ‘We are all one’, they are completely ignoring an entire group of people,” Farmer said.

Ramsay talked about her passion about the Afro-Mexican history and culture during the conversation.

“It’s important for me to emphasize that I come to Afro-Mexico mainly though their literary and culture production, just a very small body of work,” Ramsay said. “But it has taken me into the history, into the anthropology and so on.”

Though Afro-Mexicans are currently not recognized as a separate ethnic group and marginalized in Mexico’s society, Ramsay still wanted to help them overturn the claims of Mexican homogeneity.

“The insistence on Mexico’s homogeneity is what has caused them to have no consciousness of themselves and their identities,” she said. “So what I do is to analyze their literary and cultural production by this paper to show that they can be linked to a wider African diaspora and a wider Afro-centric cultural identity.”

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