Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Caribbean and U.S. Imperial Banking

Bank of Haiti, circa 1890
"The history of U.S. imperialism can be found in the archives of Wall Street’s oldest, largest, and most powerful institutions. ...the vaults and ledgers of banking houses such as Citigroup, Inc., and J. P. Morgan Chase and Co. reveals a story of capitalism and empire whose narrative is not of morally pure and inspiring economic growth, but rather of blood and labor, stolen sovereignty and pilfered resources, military occupation and monetary control. Sugar comingles with blood, chain gangs cross spur lines, and the magical abstractions of finance are found vulgarized in the base manifestations of racial capitalism. This history of bankers and empire is also a Caribbean history. The Caribbean archipelago was ground zero for U.S. imperial banking. More>>

Friday, June 7, 2019

Gris Gris Piano Maestro Dr. John Embarks on His Final Voyage to the Realm of the Saints

Mac Rebennack first became Dr. John on the 1968 album Gris-Gris, an audacious mix of psychedelia and New Orleans R&B that’s probably the most ambitious and best album that he ever made. It’s an utterly original work that feels genuinely steeped in folk magic and shadow histories: a “soundtrack of colonial collisions,” as Charles Hughes put it in a terrific essay commemorating the album’s 50th birthday last year. At a time when many rock artists were scaling increasingly grandiose and pretentious heights in search of the freakiest freakout, Gris-Gris was a roots record that managed to outfreak all of them. The album didn’t chart, but it quickly became an underground favorite. More>> 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Firelei Báez: A Drexcyen Chronocommons

A heady origin story exempli es the Dominican-born, New York–based artist’s interest in weaving together history and myth in order to tease out—or complicate—dominant narratives about female identity, migration, and the Afro-Caribbean experience. The installation, an off-puttingly comforting and relaxing environment, serves as a “safe space” in which varied cultures can come together to connect. As Jared Quinton wrote in 2016, Báez’s “subject matter could be didactic in the wrong hands, but she sidesteps that risk with her focus on beauty, engagement, and emotion, seducing viewers into a contemplative space in which to confront them with painful histories.” More>>  See Also: Firelei Báez finds the personal in the historical at Orlando’s Mennello Museum

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

HAMALA by the Garifuna Collective, Belize

The Garifuna Collective - Hamala / Let Him Fly from Stonetree on Vimeo.

"'Hamala' is a song that came to me in a dream," explains songwriter Emilio Thomas, invoking centuries of Garifuna performers who have long drawn music from their own sleeping minds. More>>

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Gulf Caribbean Updates

On Postcolonial Identity:

"The Caribbean is not just black… and white, with long forgotten stories of its indigenous peoples. We are the mulattos born of rape, or outlawed love, as seen in Agostino Brunias’ paintings, we are the rebels who were written out of the history books like Carlota of Cuba, or Carib Warner of Dominica, or the three Queens of the Fireburn, we are the ivory white of John Stedman’s skin as he trudged through the rainforest of Suriname hunting the ebony black of our maroon forefathers, we are the red skinned lovers of liberty as described by Father Labat of the Kalinagos, and what grace and beauty we are, and how inherently we love, despite our most stormy past as shown in paintings by Victor Patricio Landaluze. The Caribbean is not one thing, one race, one story—yet it is a story of humankind, love, lust, greed, and our unending desire for freedom." More>>

Roma: An Overdue Reckoning for Castizos

"...Mexicans use the euphemism “la muchacha,” Spanish for “the girl,” for this combination of housekeeper, nanny and caregiver. It’s complicated, this relationship between domestic workers and the families that thrive because of them: A quasi-organic intimacy exists between patrons and muchachas, but we don’t truly understand how much we owe them, and how much we don’t give back. “Roma,” with its silences and steady lens, acts as a prelude to an overdue reckoning..." More>>

"A Tuba to Cuba"

"...this joyous, wide-ranging account of a New Orleans jazz band’s visit to Cuba is crammed with fascinating facts and toe-tickling tunes. Its myriad voices, humble despite their extreme musical gifts, guide a journey to forge new connections and untangle the music’s Afro-Caribbean roots. Everyone has a story to tell... A mini urban opera emerges from the percussive rhythms of street life... The movie exudes such an abundance of pleasure, talent and fellowship that we barely notice the poverty that backgrounds many of its scenes. Instead, it seems more logical to ponder why a neighborhood with its own conga organization isn’t on top of everyone’s house-hunting list..." More>>

A New Vanguard: Women in Cuban Jazz

Plenty of Cuban women have made their marks on jazz music, from the Buena Vista Social Club’s Omara Portuondo and the salsa legend Celia Cruz to the Queen of the Bolero, Olga Guillot, who coached Nat King Cole on his Spanish. But, in past generations, Cuba’s jazzistas were predominantly singers; female instrumentalists were too often confined to all-female dance bands. Now a new generation of female musicians has a different sort of footing in the jazz world. Many of have serious chops as instrumentalists... More>>

Haitian-Louisianian Vodou Flags at NOMA

These flags celebrate vodou's melding of West African, Catholic and Haitian spiritual practices. After thousands of enslaved people were brought to Haiti from West Africa in the 16th century, they were not allowed to practice their diverse religions openly and thus forced to blend their customs with the Catholic beliefs of French and Spanish slave owners. Following the path of slavery and colonialism, this spiritual amalgam has helped form religious practices in places across the globe, including New Orleans. Much like Vodou itself, these flags represent a coming together of different cultures, communities, and planes of existence. Each flag pays tribute to a different spirit of Haitian Vodou, called the “lwa,” or “invisibles” in Haitian Creole. These unseen entities stand at the spiritual and cultural crossroads: existing between the human and spirit world... More>>

Dr. Nativo Returns to his Roots

"...In 2010, Nativo returned to Guatemala, where he attended his first Mayan ceremony and discovered his nahual (Mayan animal spirit), beginning an intense spiritual journey. Two years later, Nativo took a 16-hour ride through mountains and jungle to meet with producer and Stonetree Records founder, Ivan Duran, at his studio in neighboring Belize: “His songs struck me like instant Polaroid pictures into the soul of a young and proud indigenous generation that had finally woken up in Guatemala. I remember thinking, “There’s hope! The resistance is not dead!” More>>

High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture explores Caribbean identity through photography, criticism, and personal narrative. Taking an unapologetically subjective Caribbean point of view, the author delves into "Mas" -- a key feature of Trinidad performance -- as an emancipatory practice. Kevin Adonis Browne divulges how performers are, or wish to be perceived. More>>

The Haitian Surrealists that History Forgot: Despite the hardships Haiti has endured since its slave population rose up to established the world’s first black republic in 1804, its people have created a unique culture. Haitian novels, music, and poetry rank among the best in the modern canon, yet nowhere is Haiti’s legacy more apparent than in the voudou-inflected surrealism of its visual art tradion. More>>   See Also: PÒTOPRENS:The Transcendent Spirit of Haitian Contemporary Art 

The American South, the Gulf South, the Global South and the Caribbean all share a common history. It is a legacy we would like to think has evolved and is now in our past, but the current American president seems intent on routinely reminding us of our plantation history when humans were like livestock and children could be taken from their mothers at the whim of the rich and powerful and their laws. Here Rhiannon Giddens reminds us of a history that evolves but never completely changes.

Our Affiliate Joan Duran & MID51's Sara Martinez Explore Western Art Modalities Encountering Global South Realities at DAK’ART 2018:

See Also: Yasser Musa in Bitacora