The Caribbean culture, discussed at Harvard
The Observatory Cervantes analyzes Caribbean Spanish culture and its evolution through history
Cambridge, November 10, 2014. The Observatory of the Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University held a seminar within the series "Conversations in the Observatorio" with Silvio Torres-Saillant, Distinguished Professor of English and Latin American Studies at Syracuse University. During the meeting, students analyzed lieraturen to discuss power relationships between regions and the unequal knowledge of languages and cultures around the world.
Torres-Saillant's concern about this "inequality of knowledge" is explained through his definition of "equity culture," by which the history of towns and cities is more strongly influenced by interest in them as a tourist destination rather than by historical or cultural elements. He addressed the political and cultural perspectives of those who have emigrated as well as of those who still reside in the Caribbean.
Attendees also discussed music and literature with an emphasis on differentiating entertainment from genuine cultural expression. During the question and answer session, Torres-Saillant addressed topics such as the use of metaphors and their ability to evoke and speak of "realities that don’t exist yet” and poetry as a connecting element for societies that are “broken ethnically and linguistically." The group also discussed important figures in Caribbean literature, such as Luis Pales Matos, a Puerto Rican poet who is credited with creating the genre known as “Afro-Antillano.”
Additionally, the seminar addressed the narrative of afrolationamericanos writers, as well as the Afro-Caribbean diaspora and its effect on other countries, including Colombia and Ecuador. Finally, Torress-Saillant discussed the variety of expressions for "blackness" and issues such as "negrophobia" in society. The talk concluded with a discussion on the low presence of blacks working in the media and how this lack of representation is rarely publicly criticized.