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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Archives of Olvido: Disappearances, Femicide, and Black Puerto Rican Life

Yomaira Figueroa •Michigan State University

April 4th @ 6 P.M. via Zoom

This talk examines the life of Catalina López-Rosario (1905- c.1947), a Black woman from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, through photographs, familial stories, and oral histories. Using Catalina’s story of motherhood, migration, and later her murder as a point of reference, I lay the groundwork for considering femicide in historical and contemporary contexts in Puerto Rico and the diaspora. An intergenerational meditation, this chapter temporally extends from late 19th century to the late 20th century to include the stories of the murders of Catalina’s mother and her great-granddaughter, and the deaths and disappearance of her sons. This talk thus links the story of a Black Puerto Rican woman and her family to the histories of intimate gender violence and contemporary concerns and activism around femicide in the archipelago and tracks the disappearance of Blackness in Puerto Rico through acts of violence and census collection methods. I contend that these forms of disappearances reverberate across generations, through the diaspora, and are at the heart of the lived experiences of Black Puerto Ricans. The work of memory helps us traverse the horizon of femicide and disappearance, and by centering Catalina’s story –a woman arguably disappeared from memory and the archive– I  guide Catalina and her family back from olvido.

Islands as Metaphor and Method
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