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Rhythm, Dance, and Body Politics in Motion: Embodying the Teaching Afro-Caribbean History


Date: Friday 13 May 2022

Time: 14.00 – 15.30

Location: Library of the Institute of Latin American Studies (House B, Floor 5)

Research seminar - Exploring how a teaching approach to Caribbean history that embraces dance as pedagogy and object of study

This presentation explores how a teaching approach to Caribbean history that embraces dance both as pedagogy and as object of study can illuminate the embodied strategies through which Afro-descendant peoples navigated histories of enslavement, racialization, coloniality, sexism, and cultural commodification in the transnational space of the Caribbean (Cuba and Puerto Rico) and New York city during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drawing on Professor Santos’ pedagogical research and experiences teaching the movement, aesthetic, and history of the Afro-Cuban and the Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms and dances that became part of salsa, this presentation highlights the central place of the dancing body as a site of contestation and negotiation of unequal power relations, and of production of social identities, creation of cultural memories, and transmission of historical knowledge among Afro-descendants in the Hispanic Caribbean. The presentation also reflects on how the incorporation of these dances’ movements in the history classroom fosters embodied and deeper understandings of these intimate dimensions of Afro-Caribbean history among students. 

Martha Santos 

Associate Professor of Latin American History at the University of Akron, Ohio, United States. She is author of numerous publications on gendered violence and on enslaved motherhood and childhood in nineteenth-century Brazil. Santos is also a salsa dancer and creator of the award-winning, inter-disciplinary college course “Salsa: History in Motion.” In the fall of 2021, she was invited professor at the Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle, Paris-3, where she deepened her pedagogical practice and research on the synergies between the use and study of the dancing body, rhythm, and the teaching of Latin American, and particularly, Caribbean history. She has been visiting scholar at Harvard University (2013-14) and her research has also been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

External participants can write to to receive the Zoom link (department members can find it in Romklass calendar)

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Research seminars are only open for researchers, PhD-candidates and Master students working with Latin American issues. If you are interested in participating, please contact

Organiser: NILAS
Contact: Andrés Rivarola