Graduate Students Discuss Caribbean Diaspora at Conference

Caribbean Diaspora
Karen Zhou

Robert A. HIll, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, discusses race, ethnicity, and African identity at the graduate student-organized conference "Reconsidering Caribbean Diaspora." FridaSeptember 28

For history teaching fellow Sandy I. Plácido, one of the organizers of the Reconsidering Caribbean Diaspora conference at the Barker Center over the weekend, the conference was “definitely a personal and an academic interest.”

Plácido, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, focuses on the Caribbean in her academic work. The conference, she said, aimed to bring together a “newer, younger” generation of scholars who study the Caribbean Diaspora.

“Because all of the presenters are graduate students, our idea was to bring together young scholars who are doing work on the Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora, to speak to this issue and maybe challenge the concept of diaspora as well,” she said.

The conference included a keynote address and roundtable discussion Friday night, followed by a series of eight panels on Saturday, where 24 graduate students presented papers on the Caribbean.

Robert A. Hill, a professor emeritus in history at the University of California, Los Angeles, was the keynote speaker.

“If you want to talk about race in the 20th or 21st century, you have to default to an American discourse of race. They control the discourse of race,” he said. “In other words, we are dealing with a form of intellectual and cultural imperialism.”

Hill also discussed discrepancies across different demographics of membership within the Universal Negro Improvement Association, an organization founded by Marcus Garvey in 1914 which he has studied extensively.

“Why? We don’t know,” he said. “So get to work!”

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