Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interview: Jason McGraw

Author and professor Cara Caddoo interviewed the historian Jason McGraw about his new book, The Work of Recognition: Caribbean Colombia and the Postemancipation Struggle for Citizenship.

From the Q & A:
What led you to this topic (Afro-Colombians, Colombia, this era)? I was thinking of a question that gets to your personal story if you are comfortable with that. Did you say you backpacked around South America during college?

That’s right, I traveled across northern South America and Central America in the 1990s, mainly to see places my family had lived. But I was very wary of going through Colombia, since those years were the height of the conflict there, and as a typical person from the States with limited knowledge of the place, all I could think about was drugs, guns, bombings, and kidnappings. But I did go through the country (instead of around it). And it was incredible. I fell for the place.

The Caribbean coast of Colombia was particularly fascinating. It has some of the oldest European and African settlements in the Americas, and it is still home to some of the first peoples to make contact with Europeans after 1492. As I began to do research in Colombia, I found a lot of information about former slaves of African descent. That was a history I knew about from other places, and I was in school to study that subject. Yet despite Afro-Colombians make up about one-quarter of the population, there was little written that described what happened after slavery ended in 1852. So I thought to myself, “Job security!”

What I found in Colombia was a version of what happened in many countries after they freed their slaves. The time after slave emancipation was...[read on]
Learn more about The Work of Recognition at The University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Work of Recognition.

--Marshal Zeringue