“What Dem Do To We No Have Name”: Intimate Violence, Autonomy, and Black Women’s Contemporary Art in Caribbean Nicaragua


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Africana Studies


This project traces a visual and discursive history of intimate colonial violence against Black women and girls from present-day Caribbean Nicaragua. Specifically, it explores how Black women and girls from the region appear in the racialized, gendered, and erotic imaginaries of key colonial actors in their history. These colonial imaginaries are juxtaposed with the counter-visualities of contemporary Afro-Nicaraguan women visual artists whose works grapple with Black women’s histories of gender-based violence and the critical yet taken-for-granted importance of bodily autonomy. Given the anti-Black and patriarchal Nicaraguan state’s refusal to address growing rates of gender violence in Caribbean Nicaragua and the masculinist struggle for Black autonomy in the region that has been centrally concerned with civic rather than intimate harms, this project contends that their art offers an alternative vision of autonomy that moves beyond formal political frameworks and allows for more radical and transformative methods of organizing for Black liberation.