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Trajectories of Empire
Transhispanic Reflections on the African Diaspora

Editor(s): Jerome C. Branche

Trajectories of Empire extends from the beginning of the Iberian expansion of the mid-fifteenth century, through colonialism and slavery, and into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in Latin American republics. Its point of departure is the question of empire and its aftermath, as reflected in the lives of contemporary Latin Americans of African descent, and of their ancestors caught up in the historical process of Iberian colonial expansion, colonization, and the Atlantic slave trade.

The book's chapters explore what it's like to be Black today in the so-called racial democracies of Brazil, Colombia, and Cuba; the role of medical science in the objectification and nullification of Black female personhood during slavery in Brazil in the nineteenth century; the deployment of visual culture to support insurgency for a largely illiterate slave body again in the nineteenth century in Cuba; aspects of discourse that promoted the colonial project as evangelization, or alternately offered resistance to its racialized culture of dominance in the seventeenth century; and the experiences of the first generations of forced African migrants into Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as the discursive template was created around their social roles as enslaved or formerly enslaved people. 

Trajectories of Empire's contributors come from the fields of literary criticism, visual culture, history, anthropology, popular culture (rap), and cultural studies. As the product of an interdisciplinary collective, this book will be of interest to researchers and graduate students in Iberian or Hispanic Studies, Africana Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Transatlantic Studies, as well as the general public.

Biography of Editor(s)

Jerome C. Branche is Associate Professor of Latin American and Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He is author of The Poetics and Politics of Diaspora: Transatlantic Musings and editor of Race, Colonialism, and Social Transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean.


  • "The scholarship demonstrated in this book is highly impressive. This is the case (without exception) of all the essays collected in the volume. . . . Both individually and together, then, these essays constitute a comprehensive analytical coverage of relevant scholarship on the Afro-Iberian diaspora."
    Conrad James, author of Filial Crisis and Erotic Politics in Black Cuban Literature: Daughters, Sons and Lovers
  • "Ultimately this study leaves us with a heightened awareness of how to understand and deconstruct more recent celebrations of and anxieties about Black people and their heritage and how to respond to the forces of incorporation, appropriation, and re-marginalization."
    Leo Garofalo, author of Drinking, Divines, and Markets: Marking Race and Ethnicity in Colonial Peru