This essay engages Vanessa K. Valdés’s Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. It traces Valdés’s main contributions and notes that her work invites readers to expand their views of Schomburg’s Afro-Caribbean/Latinx/Latin American identity and his complex personality, as well as his relentless but gentle commitment to advancing black liberation. Following Saidiya Hartman’s strategy of “critical fabulation” to highlight previously silenced Afro-Epistemes, the author dwells on Schomburg’s childhood, life commitment, and legacies. Part of the essay’s purpose is to sketch the transnational community of formerly enslaved and free men and women from whom Schomburg inherited what the author calls his Maroon political consciousness. The essay also emphasizes how Valdés invites African diaspora scholars, activists, educators, artists, and so on to reflect on and trouble preconceived ideas about Maroon subjectivity, marronage, and Africa. It concludes by imagining ways Schomburg would engage our present.
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the Quintessential Maroon: Toward an African Diasporic Epistemology
Evelyne Laurent-Perrault is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her PhD in history from New York University in 2015 and holds a licenciatura degree in biology (1990) from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled “Claims of Dignity, Black Women’s Political Imagination in Venezuela, 1730–1809” and is the founder of the Annual Arturo Schomburg Symposium, held at Taller Puertorriqueño in Philadelphia.
Evelyne Laurent-Perrault; Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the Quintessential Maroon: Toward an African Diasporic Epistemology. Small Axe 1 March 2020; 24 (1 (61)): 132–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8190674
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