Evelyne Laurent-Perrault (Venezuela).
I am a historian of the African Diaspora in Colonial Latin America and the Caribbean. My research looks into the subjectivity and intellectual creativity of enslaved and free women of African descent who lived in Caracas-Venezuela, during the eighteenth century. It also explores the ways in which these subjects conceptualized ideas of rights, freedom(s), and membership in their communities. My teaching explores the processes aimed to commodify Africans and their descendants, the strategies these social actors developed to keep a sense of autonomy, dignity, and honor. I also help students make connections with current struggles and power dynamics.
I am a Venezuelan of Haitian descent, however, by now I am also a person shaped by larger worlds: I lived years in the Northeast of the United States and, before that, I spent two years in Socialist Eastern Europe and West Africa respectively. My first profession and interest, conservation biology/behavioral ecology, brought me to the U.S. and took me to Cameroon, where I came across the roots of several Venezuelan and Latin American cultural elements. I began to question silenced African contributions to the hemisphere and the world.
In Philadelphia, I created the Annual Arturo Schomburg Symposium (going to its 23rd consecutive year), at Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc.http://tallerpr.org/ This event brings together scholars, professionals, activists, and artists who gather the last Saturday of February to share, with a wide audience, their expertise about the African presence in Latina/o and Latin American history and cultures. This experience took me to transnational Afro-Latin American activism. I fell in love with the discipline of history when I realized that the answers to my inquiries resided in the past.