Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Tulane University

Congo Square: Crossroads of the Afro-Atlantic World

November 14th, 2009
1:00 - 6:00 PM

Location
Jazz & Heritage Center
1225 N. Rampart Street

Leading scholars on African and Caribbean culture, and their impact on New Orleans, will gather on Saturday, Nov. 14, for a symposium entitled Congo Square: Crossroads of the Afro-Atlantic World.”

(Presenter Ned Sublette was a former Rockefeller Fellow at Tulane’s Stone Center. Read the news article about Ned’s recent book release.)

The symposium is free and open to the public and the event is presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation as a part of the Foundation’s Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series.

The day following the symposium, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation will present the third annual Congo Square Rhythms Festival in nearby Armstrong Park. The festival is free and open to the public. It will feature music, food and a large crafts area. Performers include Ensemble Fatien (featuring Ivorian multi-instrumentalist Seguenon Kone, Dr. Michael White, Sunpie Barnes and others), the Kumbuka African Dance Ensemble and many more.

Congo Square: Crossroads of the Afro-Atlantic World” features Ned Sublette, author of The World That Made New Orleans, Yale University African culture scholar Robert Farris Thompson, musician Alex LaSalle of the Puerto Rican group Alma Moyó and others in a day-long series of discussions and workshops.

The final hour of the symposium will feature a drum workshop and a cocktail reception.

SCHEDULE:

1:00 p.m. Welcome and Introductions

  • Presentation by Ned Sublette, “Rocking the City, Cracking the Code: Bámbula at Congo Square”

2:30 p.m. Presentation by Robert Farris Thompson, “Kongo with a OK’”

3:30 p.m. Break

3:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Congo Square

  • Freddi Williams Evans: “Congo Square Through the Years”
  • Connie Zeanah Atkinson: “Place Publique: The Historical Congo Square”
  • Herreast Harrison and Robert Farris Thompson: A Dialogue
  • Luther Gray: “Advocating for Congo Square”

5:00 p.m. Drum Workshop (featuring Alex LaSalle and Luther Gray) and Cocktail Reception

Event Summary: Congo Square was the popular but never official name for the commons that is now part of Armstrong Park, across Rampart Street from the French Quarter in New Orleans. It has the status of sacred space in African-American culture, and the gatherings that took place there constitute a singular and fundamental phenomenon in the musical and cultural history of the United States. Beginning as a Sunday arketplace, by the early 19th Century that commons had become the only place in the United States where enslaved people could gather en masse to sing, drum and dance. It was a place of memory and experimentation, a commercial center, and a party — all in a city thatwould in many essential respects be recognizable to New Orleanians today. This symposium brings together a variety of scholars and cultural practitioners to consider the facts, meaning, and legacy of Congo Square.

Presentation Summaries:

Ned Sublette: “Rocking the City, Cracking the Code: Bámbula at Congo Square”
1:10 p.m.

One of the great frustrations in thinking about Congo Square is that we have no recordings of how it sounded. Contemporary accounts, most notably Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s 1819 description with pictures, describe dense activity and loud, diverse sound, or, as another traveler observed that same year: the “African slaves” would “assemble on the green by the swamp and rock the city with their Congo dances.”

But we are not confined to the stray written evidence handed down by culturally naïve passers-by. We also have a thriving oral culture to consult. While we might not be able to recapture the composite sound of Congo Square, we know some things about the music there. There was at least one element for which we have a pretty good living relative today: the bámbula. The bámbula one might have heard at Congo Square in 1819 bore no small resemblance to the way bámbula is played today in western Puerto Rico. Cousins of this style can be heard in eastern Cuba and Guadeloupe, among other places. This, in turn, is a consequence of one of the generative explosions of popular music in the Western hemisphere: the diaspora occasioned by the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to 1804.

Appearing with Ned Sublette will be Alex LaSalle, a specialist in the music of western Puerto Rico, who will demonstrate the way bámbula is played in the contemporary and historical context.

Robert Farris Thompson: “Kongo with a K”
2:30 p.m.

The presentation will consist of two sections, both bearing on Creole continuities of Kongo culture in the Americas. First are the well-known continuities, the conga drum, the conga line, the congo grind. But jug-bands in early jazz also trace back to Kongo, as do the twist [zka nitu], the
ring-shout, and very likely the Charleston, being that South Carolina is famous for a Kongo house built in the late 19th Century by a former slave, Kongo-influenced face-jugs with inserted kaolin eyes and cut teeth, and a pond associated with the powerful Kongo water spirits, the simbi.

Kongo is famous for its writing system [bidimbu] and as a direct extension of that are time-resistant gestures practiced there and here over the last 200 years: arms akimbo, hands above head with fingers wide spread, right hand forward and left on hip. These echo and re-echo in art historical documents which we touch upon briefly. In sum, specific musical, choreographic and gestural traditions will be shown to link Black Americas with the noble civilization of the kingdom of Kongo.

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28th Annual New Orleans Film Festival to Feature Latinx Programming

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The 28th Annual New Orleans Film Festival will be held from October 11th to October 19th at participating theaters in the New Orleans area. Born in a city known for its eclectic and artistic vibrancy, the New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) has sought out bold and passionate storytellers since 1989. It is the longest-running festival of its kind in the state of Louisiana and one of the largest film festivals in the South. Now in its 28th year, the New Orleans Film Festival has grown into an internationally respected annual event that attracts 20-25k people, 400+ filmmakers, and 240 films.

This year’s film festival will feature a number of films relating to the Latin American community, either in subject matter and/or made by Latin American filmmakers. The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute will be sponsoring several films, including Olancho and Cuban Short Stories.

A full list of film selections and synopses may be found here.

For more information on tickets, passes, and film packages, visit the NOFF website.

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Tulane University are sponsoring the following films:

Olancho
Manuel, a farmer from Olancho, Honduras, seeks fame by making music for the region’s drug cartels. When some of his song lyrics get him in trouble, he must make the most difficult decision of his life: continue the quest for fame, or flee. For information on times and locations, visit the Olancho event page.

Cuban Shorts: Cine Cubano
These Cuban short stories are a series of short films highlight cultural and social subject manner relating to the Cuban community. For more information on show times and locations, visit the event page.

Fighting Cuba’s Boxing Ban
A short documentary about female boxing in Cuba, where the Cuban government forbade women from competing in the 2016 summer olympics.

Manuel
A short documentary about an 87-year-old Cuban man who brews and sells potions said to be aphrodisiacs.

Parade
Jazz students from New Orleans travel to Cuba on a cultural exchange and collaborate on a parade, celebrating open borders.

Connection (Conectifai)
A portrait of a park in Havana where, thanks to public Wi-Fi, a new kind of meeting place has arisen.

Charlie
Four decades after hijacking a plane to Cuba to avoid charges of killing a state trooper, a former black power militant reflects on his past in a letter to his nine-year-old Cuban son.

Forever, Comandante (Hasta Siempre, Comandante)
Living in the shadow of the revolutionary generation’s unrelenting Cuban ideals, Ernesto, a 14-year-old barber, wants to get a tattoo despite his father’s adamant objection.

Prince of Smoke
Cuban tobacco farmer and artisanal cigar maker Hirochi Robaina follows in his legendary grandfather’s footsteps as he fights to preserve a 171-year-old family legacy.

Additional titles relating to the Latin American community include:

The Thunder Feast (Truenos de San Juan)
A documentary about the ancient festival of San Juanito in Guanajuato where homemade explosives are part of the revelry, but not everyone in the community is sure this tradition should continue.

Sambá
A documentary about Cisco, a Dominican-born man who returns to the Dominican Republic after doing time in a United State prison. Cisco soon finds that the only way he can make money is getting involved in loosely organized street fighting.

Days of Wholesome Joy
A Cuban narrative short about a woman taking care of her grandmother who has dementia.

Holy Hill
A narrative short story about a nun who works at a school for young boys in the Dominican Republic. Both she and the boys have parallel sexual awakenings.

Camp of the Innocents
A Louisiana-made short documentary about the U.S. interment of Latin American “enemy aliens” during World War II in New Orleans. The entire synopsis, as well as show times and location may be found here.

Dead Horses
A Catalan animated short film about a child fleeing his home during wartime.

Bells in the Mountains
A Spanish short documentary about a group of cows who migrate seasonally from the town of Ullé through the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees Mountains.

Elegy
A short narrative film about a girl who cannot process her complicated feelings about the death of her two classmates.

Cuban Shorts: Cine Cubano-New Orleans Film Festival

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Tulane University are sponsoring the following screenings for the New Orleans Film Festival, which will run from October 11th-19th. Screenings are held at various locations in New Orleans. The box office is located at the Ace Hotel (600 Carondelet Street, New Orleans, LA 70130).

CUBAN SHORTS: CINE CUBANO

  • Saturday, October 14th 1:00PM | Member $10 General $13
  • Thursday, October 19th 11:30AM | Members $7 General $10

Cultural Kinship Conference: Presented by the LA Creole Research Association

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The Louisiana Creole Research Association will host its’ 13th annual conference from October 20-22 in New ORLEANS, LA. The conference will explore the phenomenon of Creolization and identity that exists in both the Caribbean and in New Orleans and their common Creole culture. Learn how the influence of the St. Domingue immigrants in New Orleans bolstered that common Creole on the cusp of Americanization following the Louisiana Purchase. Registration for the conference is now open, using the following link.

2017 Conference Schedule

  • Friday, Oct. 20- Annual Members Meeting
    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    938 Lafayette St.
    6PM-9PM
  • Saturday, Oct. 21- Annual Conference
    Xavier University of Louisiana
    1 Drexel Dr., Administration Auditorium
    8AM-4:30PM
  • Sunday, Oct. 22- Laura Plantation Tour & Lunch
    2247 Highway 18, Vacherie 70090
    9AM-2:30PM
  • Sunday, Oct. 22- LAGNIAPPE!
    Xavier University of Louisiana
    2PM

For more details on the 2017 Schedule and Speakers, visit our post on Facebook! To register, become a member, or get extra information, click here.

Call for Papers: Association of Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean 2018 Conference

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The Association for Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (AAPLAC) seeks session proposals for its 29th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 21-24, 2018, hosted by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University.

This year’s theme, “Study Abroad: Meeting the Challenges of Cultural Engagement,” includes a variety of paper topics, including:

  • New Orleans after Katrina: The impact of the growing Hispanic population which came to help with rebuilding and has since stayed on
  • Interdisciplinary Institutional Content Assessment: How to best track what students are doing overseas and the benefits for our campuses
  • Global Partnerships through Peer Collaboration: How we can better work with institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Research Collaborations – U.S.-Latin America: Faculty led/student participation in on-site studies
  • Anglo-Hispanic Challenges: Cross-cultural understanding through experiential learning and study abroad
  • Strategic Partnerships: How we can enhance protocols between our schools in the US and those in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Strengthening AAPLAC Relationships through Inter-Organization Mentoring: How we can enhance protocols amongst our schools in the US
  • Latina Empowerment: More women on study abroad programs: How we can take advantage of this bond between women of the North and the South
  • Rethinking Mobility: How is the student’s identity compromised/enhanced abroad?
  • Community-Based Partnerships: How students can learn as they engage with local communities in working type environments
  • Crossing Borders: The eternal quest for a global space as students interact with the other
  • Global Xenophobia on the Rise of Brexit/Trump? What is our role?
  • Cuba: Future U.S. Relations – Impact on Study Abroad

Please visit the Call For Papers web page to download the proposal template, timeline, and more information about the conference.

For questions, please contact Laura Wise Person at 862-8629 or lwise1_at_tulane.edu.