HEART: Unifying Communities through Language and Textile Art, is a community-driven, interdisciplinary, and trans-institutional workshop where Spanish creative writing, English as a second language, and textile art—as alternative means of expression—are linked. HEART helps Latinx people in the community to feel a sense of empowerment and improve their quality of life and self-development. To fund this project I received a grant from the Mellon Partners in Humanities Education, as well as a fellowship from the Curb Center.
Read more in VU News "The Heart and Art of Language."
ContArte Latinoamérica is a project I created in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Center at Vanderbilt as part of my work as a Mellon fellow for the Digital Humanities. It is a searchable database of selected artworks made by Latinx artists. Our first online exhibition was "Connections." The Collection will continually expand to include a larger representation.
“Connections” by Marcela Castaño (Colombia, 1977) is mainly based on the network of relationships the artist created with her closest relatives. She shared with her mother her passion for the wool, the looms, and the sea; with her grandfather on her mother’s side, who spent a great deal of his life living with the aboriginal communities, and gave her their legends and beliefs as a reference to create other pieces of art.
As a Buchanan Fellow, I explore the topic of race in the Afro-Colombian author Manuel Zapata Olivella's work. I study the presence of Mexico, and indigenous and afro-descendant people in their literary works, especially in Tierra mojada, and the chapter "El llamado de los Ancestros" (Changó, el gran putas). I pay especial attention to the depiction of José María Morelos, who was considered by Zapata Olivella as the "dimensión zamba del negro en México." I contend that the connotation of the proletarian has a deep Americanist meaning in Zapata Olivella's works. It is not about the historical evolution of a class plundered by capitalism, but of a mulatto, zambo, and mestizo people that have survived four centuries of colonial exploitation with their material creativity, their gods, their songs, their philosophy, and their growing rebellion.
The Slave Societies Digital Archive (SSDA) was launched in 2005 and preserves the oldest serial records for the slave societies of the Americas. I have worked as a researcher for the Slave Societies Digital Archive (SSDA), since 2018. I have conducted field research and worked to collate, digitize and transcribe historical and ecclesiastic archives from seventeenth to nineteenth-century Latin America. In addition, I have developed other skills in the digital humanities field as part of a team dedicated to designing and upgrading the digital tool Spatial Historian.
“Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose: The First Free Black Town in Spanish Colonial Florida” is a bilingual project I am developing with Dr. Jane Landers. This website showcases the history of Fort Mose, hereafter referred to as Mose. The town was born of the initiative and determination of enslaved Africans who, at great risk, manipulated the Anglo-Spanish contest for control of the Southeast to their advantage and thereby won their freedom. The settlement was composed of former slaves, many of West African origin, who had escaped from British plantations and received religious sanctuary in Spanish Florida.
The Vanderbilt University School of Law's Immigration Practice Clinic ("IPC") represents vulnerable low-income immigrants from all over the world before the immigration agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and federal courts in humanitarian immigration cases. At the IPC, I work mainly with the Nashville Latinx community providing translation services.
As a CHICOS team member, I have worked with the LatinX community in Nashville to conduct surveys and take health measurements to create a pool of data regarding stress and its impact on immigrant communities. CHICOS has also helped me understand the value of the material culture and spirituality of Latin American people.