The CLACS Working Group on Racisms in Comparative Perspective presents “Traditional and Political: A Reconceptualization of Brazil's Baianas de Acarajé” by Vanessa Castañeda (Guarini Dean's Postdoctoral Fellow 2021-2023, Dartmouth College).
Sponsored by the CLACS Working Group on Racisms in Comparative Perspective and Feminist Constellations Platform.
Her research centers on the baianas de acarajé, predominantly older, working-class Black women who are street vendors in Salvador, Brazil, that sell typical regional foods with culinary origins in West Africa. They also have come to exist as central icons of the African heritage tourism and cultural figures of regional and national Brazilian identity. Using interdisciplinary methodologies, including extensive community-based ethnographic fieldwork with the Association of Baianas (ABAM), Vanessa’s work reconceptualizes the baianas as political agents of Black feminism for self and collective liberation. She shows how the women have mastered navigating their mobility in accessing multiple spaces of power, both figuratively and spatially.
Vanessa Castañeda is a first-generation college student and currently the Guarini Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Afro-Latinx and/or Afro-Latin American Studies. She earned her Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University in 2021, where she also founded the Undocumented Student Support Committee in 2016. She is also a proud MA alum of the CLACS program at NYU.
About CLACS Working Group on Racisms in Comparative Perspective:
In this new/old political context, discussions about race and racisms have exploded. Postraciality and the multicultural rights frame are being challenged at the core and more intensely than ever before, glimpses of proto-fascist policies and actions are on the rise.
As a working group that is part of the larger Red de Investigacion Accion Antiracista en las Americas (RAIAR), we want to continue contributing to the debate on how best to fight against this emergent racist/classist backlash. Created in 2010 by Working Group Director Pamela Calla and Carmen Medeiros, this working group and presenters provide current and forthcoming analyses of race and racism in the Americas.