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Blackness in the White Nation

Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay

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    Blackness in the White Nation
    Book Description:

    Uruguay is not conventionally thought of as part of the African diaspora, yet during the period of Spanish colonial rule, thousands of enslaved Africans arrived in the country. Afro-Uruguayans played important roles in Uruguay's national life, creating the second-largest black press in Latin America, a racially defined political party, and numerous social and civic organizations.Afro-Uruguayans were also central participants in the creation of Uruguayan popular culture and the country's principal musical forms, tango andcandombe.Candombe, a style of African-inflected music, is one of the defining features of the nation's culture, embraced equally by white and black citizens.InBlackness in the White Nation, George Reid Andrews offers a comprehensive history of Afro-Uruguayans from the colonial period to the present. Showing how social and political mobilization is intertwined withcandombe, he traces the development of Afro-Uruguayan racial discourse and argues thatcandombe's evolution as a central part of the nation's culture has not fundamentally helped the cause of racial equality. Incorporating lively descriptions of his own experiences as a member of acandombedrumming and performance group, Andrews consistently connects the struggles of Afro-Uruguayans to the broader issues of race, culture, gender, and politics throughout Latin America and the African diaspora generally.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0637-8
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-20)

    A drum corps sixty strong, we march through the Montevideo night, pounding out the African rhythms ofcandombe(can-dome-bay). Racing winds blowing the Río de la Plata drive thick banks of thunderclouds across the sky. Rain threatens; we will soon be drenched. But carried on surging waves of rhythm, and cheered by thousands of spectators who line the parade route in Montevideo’s historic Barrio Sur, we march on.

    Tonight is the 2002 Llamadas, the annual parade of the Africaninspired Carnivalcomparsas(drum and marching corps) and one of the most characteristic and defining features of Uruguayan popular culture. Thousands of...

    (pp. 21-49)

    Seventy-one years later, in 1963, Toribia Petronila Pardo Larraura still remembered that night, down to the words she and a chorus of young women had sung on the stage of the Teatro San Felipe. As her interviewer pressed her for details, she broke into song:

    A great, harmonious memory

    Tonight we send to Columbus.

    And as we raise our voices in chorus,

    We express our hopes and dreams,

    Remembering on such a solemn day

    The most glorious deed in history,

    And he who gave one world to another,

    Making precious his memory.

    This noble race has glorious aspirations,

    And as...

  6. CHAPTER TWO REMEMBERING AFRICA: Comparsas and Candombe, 1870–1950
    (pp. 50-84)

    Carnival, the citywide celebration that precedes the self-denial and asceticism of Lent, is one of the high points of Montevideo’s cultural calendar. From the early 1800s to the present, inhabitants of the city have donned their costumes and taken to the streets to celebrate the annual overturning and remaking of the everyday. Perhaps never do societies so clearly reveal themselves, suggests the historian Milita Alfaro, as at such moments. ‘‘To look at a society at play . . . is to draw closer to a singularly rich world in which fantasies, desires, conflicts, and representations of the collective unconscious all...

    (pp. 85-111)

    As the young woman slowly descended the steps from the airplane, she was met by a small crowd composed of ‘‘representatives from the black organizations in our city, and the public in general. . . . Visibly moved, Mrs. Sosa spoke in hesitant, faltering words, expressing her immense thanks to those who had intervened in the appeal that has been launched on her behalf and, at the same time, in defense of the fundamental principles of brotherhood within a democratic society such as ours.’’ ¹

    Adelia Silva de Sosa was returning to Montevideo from her home in the department of...

    (pp. 112-140)

    It was a balmy summer night in late February 1956. Under a brilliant full moon, one hundred thousand spectators jammed the streets of the Barrio Sur and Palermo, awaiting the first-ever Llamadas, the parade of thecomparsas de negros.¹ By 1956 thecomparsashad been marching through Montevideo for almost a century; but they had done so either individually or in larger parades that combined Carnival groups of all sorts (sailors, gauchos,murgas, etc.). Now, for the first time, the city had devoted a night exclusively to thesociedades de negros, and the public anticipation was enormous.

    As they waited,...

    (pp. 141-174)

    The order came down on 1 December 1978: the Medio Mundoconventillo, built in 1885 and in 1975 declared a National Historical Monument, had been condemned and was to be evacuated immediately. Municipal trucks came four days later, on 5 December, to remove the 170 residents; those who could find no other place to go were housed at city expense in a former factory in the Capurro neighborhood until they could make alternative arrangements.

    Theconventillo’s residents were in shock. As the newspaperEl Diarioreported at the time, ‘‘This was the culmination of a process that began many years...

    (pp. 175-176)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 177-214)
    (pp. 215-232)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 233-241)