Afro-Hispanic Work Songs in Early Modern Spain: Dr Carmen Fracchia – Wednesday 21st November 2018 7pm

Afro-Hispanic Work Songs in Early Modern Spain

Speaker: Dr Carmen Fracchia (Reader in Hispanic Art History in the School of Arts, Birkbeck)
In association with the Postcolonial Reading Group in the Department of English and Humanities.

Discussant: Dr. Mpalive Msiska (Birkbeck) Organizer: Soody Gholami (Birkbeck)
Wednesday 21st November 2018

19:00 – 20:00, Keynes Library
43 Gordon Square

In her paper, Dr. Carmen Fracchia explores the ways in which the Afro-Hispanic proverb or refrain Black but Human is deployed in the recently discovered work songs or black carols, written in ‘black speech’, in a mixture of Castilian and a variety of African languages. These sixteenth-century poems by anonymous African slaves and ex-slaves born in Spain were later reappropriated by Hispanic writers (such as, Lope de Vega, Luis de Góngora or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz). These songs are infused with the idea that to be human is to have a soul and they focus centrally on the association between the concept of being human and the possession of a soul that becomes white as the result of the transformative effects of baptism. Their struggle for freedom will be conveyed by the end of the seventeenth century in a radically different work song written in Castilian by a black freedman (only published in 2014).

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CFP: Spain: Social Movements Between Past and Present – Deadline 23 March 2018

University of Cambridge

8th June 2018

Social movements in Spain have increasingly attracted academic and popular attention over the last years. Political mobilisations are frequently treated as spontaneous phenomena, divorced from their wider social and historical contexts, as testified by much of the recent commentary on the 15M/Indignados movement and recent Catalan separatism. There is little interaction between those studying activism in the transformative decades of la transición española and those researching contemporary social movements. This can mean that their lessons and wider significance are lost. Historians of popular politics are also often reluctant to relate their research to contemporary events or to acknowledge the influence of present movements on the collective and academic memory. Our workshop is partly a response to social movement theorists’ suggestion that we attend to a particular mobilisation´s temporal, spatial and transnational dynamics to gain a deeper understanding of the movement itself and the societal changes it sheds light on.

This workshop will allow participants – PhD students and early-career academics – to reflect on social movements in Spain from the mid-twentieth century to the present, linking between past and present in important themes of mobilisation in contemporary Spain. It will help lay the ground for dialogue between scholars of Spanish history and politics from a diverse array of disciplines and intellectual contexts. Speakers will have twenty minutes to present their paper followed by comments and questions lead by an established academic. We will proceed with a roundtable discussion.

We aim to facilitate discussion on a variety of topics related to Spanish social movements, including but not limited to:

  • Gender and sexuality
  • Relations between social movements and institutions
  • Nationalisms
  • Urban Infrastructure
  • Youth Activism
  • Student movement
  • Memory
  • Labour and trade unions
  • Relations between actors
  • Movements and political parties

How to apply: Please send abstracts of up to 250 words and a short biography (max.200 words) to Roseanna Webster ( and/or Tiago Carvalho ( by March 23rd, 2018.


Limited funding to cover travel and accommodation is available.

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Black History Month Seminar Series: Dr Carmen Fracchia 4th November 2016




Depicting the Emergence of the Afro-Hispanic Subject and the Formation of the Black Nation in early modern Spain Dr Carmen Fracchia, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cultures and Languages

6.30pm-8.30pm on Friday 4 November 2016, in the Keynes Library (Room 114), Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square. London WC1H 0PD

The Afro-Hispanic proverb Black but Human will serve as a lens through which I explore the ways in which certain early modern visual representation of slavery both embody and reproduce hegemonic visions of subaltern groups and at the same time provide material for critical and emancipatory practices by African slaves and ex-slaves themselves in Habsburg Spain. My paper will argue that deep ethnic prejudices against black slaves and ex-slaves in the crowns of Castile and Aragón did not prevent the emergence of the ‘Afro-Hispanic subject’ in the visual form articulated by a range of artists from Spain, the Spanish territories in Europe, and New Spain (Mexico). I will focus on the extraordinary seventeenth-century case of the portrait of the slave Juan de Pareja by his celebrated slave owner, Diego Velázquez and the self-portrait of freedman Juan de Pareja in his paintingThe Calling of St Matthew. This paper will also explore the ways in which the Black but Human topos codifies the multilayered processes through which a ‘black nation’ forges a collective resistance and the ways in which it is articulated in Pareja’s 3-metre long masterpiece for the Habsburg court in Madrid (now in the basement of the Prado Museum).

*The Seminar is convened and chaired by Dr Mpalive Msiska (, Reader in English and Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom.


No booking required

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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War, 2 March 2016


We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War

Wednesday 2 March 2016
Oxford University – Ciclo Madariaga

Speaker: Prof. Paul Preston
Introduced by: Diego Rubio (Junior Fellow, University of Oxford)

Time: 5:30pm
Place: Summer Common Room, Magdalen College, Oxford, OX1 4AU

From 1936 to 1939, the eyes of the world were fixed on the devastating Spanish conflict that drew both professional war correspondents and great writers alike. Despite difficult political, professional and personal circumstances Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Josephine Herbst, Martha Gellhorn, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Kim Philby, George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, Cyril Connolly, André Malraux, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, and many others wrote eloquently about the horrors they saw at first-hand.

Together, with many great and now largely forgotten journalists, they put their lives on the line. Facing censorship, they fought to expose the complacency with which the decision-makers of the West were appeasing Hitler and Mussolini. Many campaigned for the lifting of non-intervention, revealing the extent to which the Spanish Republic had been betrayed. Based on extensive diary material and personal correspondence, Mainly British and American, but also Russian and French, Paul Preston’s account tells of the courage and skill of these men and women.

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Call for Papers: L’Atalante ‘Desire and Eroticism in Dictatorial Times’, deadline 8 April 2016

The team behind L’Atalante. Revista de estudios cinematográficos is pleased to announce the publication of the volume 21, dedicated to the First World War anniversary and the relationship between cinema and historical memory. All the contents are available for free on their website.

There is a call for papers for Volume 23, to be published in January 2017. The main theme is the representation of Desire and Eroticism in Dictatorial Times (Film Strategies Against Censorship in Totalitarian Regimes), and articles will be accepted from March 20th to April 8th, more information here

L’Atalante. Revista de estudios cinematográficos is a biannual non-profit publication published in Valencia (Spain) with the collaboration of different institutions and universities and indexed in several and relevant scientific journal indexes and catalogues. Find more information about the journal here.

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