blackness · caribbean rim

won the newberry fellowship


How long have I studied this map and other things including postcards to better see Zora Neale Hurston’s days in Honduras? Her visit to Honduras in 1947 through 1948 and the time she spent in Miami in 1950 were part of the beginning of her darkest years.

How do I find meaning in how she fits into the complex stories concerning black folk in the Caribbean rim? Aline Helg’s study on the costenos in Colombia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth was among the writings that initiated this research query. I was in graduate school. Still learning the literature.

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Post card of Puerto Cortes, circa early to mid-twentieth century.

I am still learning a growing body of literature that problematizes the hazy borders through which Hurston, an Alabama native who was reared in Florida (my home state), boldly moved.

When I first began my academic training early this century, Central America was hardly on our radar in the way that it is presently.

How much did this port town feel like other ones through which she moved in the Caribbean and the peninsula?

What would Hurston, a politically conservative woman who often hailed the beauty in blackness, say about the headlines? She once said she had a fierce desire to address injustice wherever it could be found.

That said, her stated interest in finding a lost Mayan city in Honduras shores up the anthropologist in her who may have had other things on her mind, too. She certainly wanted to stay fed. She also needed rest.

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Anthropologist-folklorist-novelist-composer Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1961)

As I am often inclined to say, so much through which to sort.



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