Please join the History of Women and Gender program for the first event of the semester: Monday, October 1 from 12:30 to 2:00 pm in 53 Washington Square South, room 701. This event is cosponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Joan Flores-Villalobos, Assistant Professor of History at The Ohio State University, will discuss her paper " 'Freak Letters:' Tracing and Gendering Diaspora in the Archive of the Panama Canal" (see abstract below).
A light lunch will be served.
RSVP to email@example.com for a copy of the text. All are welcome to attend, whether or not you read the paper in advance.
"This article explores how West Indian women are recorded using the papers and correspondence of the Isthmian Canal Commission, the biggest repository of original documents regarding the construction of the Panama Canal, housed in the National Archives of the United States. Using a 1909 photograph of a nude black West Indian woman found in a file labeled “Freak Letters,” I consider the difficulties of recovering historical subjects structured by imperial frameworks of productivity and perversity, and trace instead the counter-narratives of mobility, affect, and self-determination that might have shaped this woman’s life. I argue that a diasporic and imaginative methodology of recovery can illuminate experiences and limitations beyond the lens of empire. Using this approach, I uncover the archival logic behind “Freak Letters” and recreate the woman’s milieu, highlighting her mobility and diasporic connections. Ultimately, the article seeks to build an empathetic, horizontal, archipelagic counter-discourse as the basis for our explorations of subjects historically silenced or denigrated."