Remembering Celia Cruz: Celia in My Heart

Repeating Islands


Smithsonian National Museum of American History curator Marvette Perez remembers “Queen of Salsa” Celia Cruz on the 10th anniversary of her death:

I stood in awe at the sight of such hyper-abundant exuberance: sequins, organza, silk, polyester, mirror beads, wigs, fuchsia, chartreuse, rings and earrings, bracelets, and a pair of custom outer space shoes ready for the take-off. Celia Cruz appeared before me in all her splendor, dressed to the nines, in the middle of the Washington Mall, by the reflecting pool, in a concert with Johnny Pacheco, founder of Fania Records, and her friend and collaborator. It was 1992, my second year as Curator at the National Museum of American History.

I can’t say I was hooked then, since I first got hooked as a young adolescent, growing up in the 1970s in Puerto Rico, where the sounds of Latin music were part of my daily life. El…

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The Tobago Heritage Festival 2013

After three days spent discussing issues of heritage with colleagues and representatives of various Caribbean organizations, including the Trinbagonian state, this article felt like a happy coincidence.

Repeating Islands


Trinidad and Tobago is home to world-famous beaches such as well as the world-famous Carnival, but the dual-island nation also offers interesting choices in heritage tourism and a varied array of cultural events. [Also see previous posts Eco-Tourism in Tobago and its Underwater Carnival and The Tobago Culinary Festival 2013.] From goat races to the Emancipation Day Freedom Walk, the Tobago Heritage Festival offers activities for people of all ages, including food fairs, film screenings, theater productions, music concerts, public lectures, art exhibitions, contests, sports, games, parades, and more.

With more national holidays than almost any other country in the world highlighting the destination’s rich heritage, locals and visitors alike do not have to look very far a reason to celebrate. Colorful costumes, cultural festivities and culinary sensations are always found at island festivals, including the Tobago Heritage Festival, which began yesterday, running from July 12 through August 1…

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Toni Morrison Honors Martinique’s Aimé Césaire, A Towering Voice Of The 20th Century

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On June 26, 2013, the Toni Morrison Society placed a Bench by the Road in Fort-de-France, Martinique in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth Aimé Césaire. The bench placement represents one of the keystone events in the year-long celebration and commemoration of Aimé Césaire in Martinique, France and throughout the world.

Born in Basse-Pointe, June 26, 1913, Aimé Césaire was an early proponent of black pride, dedicating his life to the struggle against colonialism and its racial stereotypes and the fight to bring French overseas territories, including Martinique, equal status as regions of France.

The Bench by the Road Project of the Toni Morrison Society is a memorial history project established by the Society to honor an individual, place, or event that is of great importance in the history of Black people who are part of the African Diaspora. The Project was launched in 2006 on the occasion…

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Call for Papers—Culture/Identity/Politics: Éloge de la créolité, Twenty-Five Years On

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The Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University announces an International Conference—“Culture/Identity/Politics: Éloge de la créolité, Twenty-Five Years On”—to be held on October 21-23, 2014. The deadline for proposals is March 1, 2014.

Confirmed Speakers: Dominique Chancé (University of Bordeaux), Françoise Lionnet (UCLA), H. Adlai Murdoch (Tufts University), Richard Price (College of William and Mary), Sally Price (College of William and Mary)

Description: Since its publication in 1989, Éloge de la créolité has had decidedly mixed fortunes: generally received with enthusiasm on its first appearance, it rapidly became very controversial and has subsequently been widely critiqued to the extent that one wonders whether it retains any capacity at all to illuminate the cultures of Caribbean and Creole societies. To mark the 25th anniversary of its publication, this conference poses that very question, and foresees three broad areas of discussion: first, the fortunes of…

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Pourquoi ce blog? Why this blog?

J’ai deux raisons principales pour commencer ce blog. Après plus de quinze ans aux Etats-Unis, je me rend compte que mon français s’est beaucoup détérioré et que le meilleur moyen de contrecarrer la chose, c’est de m’en servir plus souvent. De plus, cela fait maintenant deux ans que j’ai fini ma thèse et je suis tout a fait conscient que, étant en anglais, elle est inaccessible à la plupart des musiciens, danseurs, et militants culturels guadeloupéens qui m’ont tant aidé dans mon travail de recherche. J’ai donc décidé de faire d’une pierre deux coups: de me forcer à écrire en français et de le faire surtout pour enfin mettre mon travail à la disposition des Guadeloupéens.

J’espère que ces écrits attireront aussi l’intérêt d’autres lecteurs francophones comme anglophones qui souhaitent en connaitre plus sur la Caraibe et les Antilles françaises en particulier. Pour cela, certains blogs seront en français, d’autres en anglais. Je voudrais surtout me servir de ce forum pour discuter musique, littérature, politiques, mais aussi pédagogie. Et vous, qu’avez-vous envie de lire? De quoi voudriez-vous qu’on parle? 


I have two main reasons for starting this blog. The first stems from the recognition that, having lived in the US for over 15 years, my French has greatly deteriorated and that the best way to reverse that trend is to make sure that I use my native tongue more often. Second, two years after finishing my dissertation, I am painfully aware that, untranslated, it is of little value to the Guadeloupean musicians, dancers, and cultural activists who have taught me so much over the past several years. It is time that I start giving back by sharing some of my work with them in a language they can understand. But I also hope that this blog will eventually attract both Francophone and Anglophone readers interested in learning more about the Caribbean, especially the French Antilles. I plan on focusing mainly on music but also to cover literature and politics, as well as pedagogy. What about you? What would you like to read? What topics would you like to see covered here?