Caribbean Studies Faculty Working Group

A joint venture between Columbia University, Barnard College and New York University’s Caribbeanist faculty, the Caribbean Faculty Working Group (CFWG) arose through conversations among faculty members from different disciplines with a shared scholarly interest in the Caribbean region and its diaspora. The Working Group is interested in contributing to a comparative and interdisciplinary method of pursuing Caribbean Studies, which includes the study of Central American and Latin American Caribbean coastal regions, as well as northern Brazil. It also hopes to offer an interface between a more traditionally conceived Caribbean Studies and adjacent projects such as Atlantic Studies, pan-Africanism, Latino Studies, and various diaspora studies.

The CFWG began its public programming this past academic year. For the first time at Columbia, the CFWG created a space to facilitate exchange amongst our faculty working in various disciplines and fields which generated open academic discussion on Caribbean issues and held three successful programs open to the public. In October 2010, the CFWG, together with CSER and NYU’s Hemispheric Institute on Performance and Politics, hosted Lizabel Mónica, a young Cuban blogger and writer, who spoke about various cultural movements in Cuba, including those organized around hip hop music and independent blogging. In November 2010, the CFWG and CSER invited Abel Sierra Madero, a Cuban historian, to lecture about the emergence and articulations of Che Guevara’s concept of the New Man. Finally, this April, the CFWG launched its first roundtable on the present and future of Caribbean revolutions in light of the recent upheavals in the Middle East and northern Africa. Invited guests included Doris Garraway, Maja Horn, and Laurie Lambert.

This past fall the CFWG hosted Cuban ethnomusicologist Nora Gamez, who spoke of music political representation and repression in Cuba today, and, together with the Maison Francaise, The Institute of African Studies, the Institute for Research in African American Studies and the Institute for Comparative literature and Society, it also put together a successful conference on the 50th Anniversary of Frantz Fanon’s death titled “Transcolonial Fanon: Trajectories of a Revolutionary Poltics.”

CSER/NALIP: Made in America

Since the beginning of cinema, Latinos have been an integral part of the U.S. mass media and have also challenged the industries’ exclusionary hiring practices and ways of portraying Latinos as well as Latin Americans. Yet, despite decades of media advocacy efforts on the part of Latinos, per capita, there were more Latinos on television and in films in the 1950-1960 decade than in 2007.

To further understand this trend, CSER and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), under the direction of Prof. Frances Negrón-Muntaner, initiated a collaborative project in 2008. Funded by the Social Science Research Council, the project consists of an unprecedented report on the historic and persistent marginalization of Latinos in the mass media. The report is titled “Assessing for Change: A Study on Latino Media Advocacy.”

In anticipation of the report, NALIP and CSER launched a Latino media history calendar in 2011. Titled “Made in America: This Month in Latino Media History,” the calendar offers a window into the contributions and challenges of Latinos in the mainstream and independent film and television industries. The calendar also includes a comprehensive bibliography.

For reasons of space, the calendar is not exhaustive. The main selection criteria have included: thematic innovation, social impact, and cultural recognition. Please view the calendar here.