Reception of Hellenic traditions within Hispanic Africa and within the African diaspora in the Hispanic world has not yet been examined programmatically, in part due to the newness of the field and to the numerous other political and aesthetic questions that these literatures forward. With few exceptions, classicists and humanists who study Africa and the African diaspora have been slow to seek interaction with one another. Likewise, Classicists in the Hispanic world (as well as American Hispanists) have generated a good deal of scholarship on Greek and Roman influences on Latin American literature and art; despite the importance that Africa and its diaspora have in the world today, they have devoted less attention to Hellenic receptions in Afro-Hispanic literature and culture. The gap exists despite the potential for generating valuable questions and conversations from such attention.
This paper addresses some non-Eurocentric approaches to receptions of Hellenism within Afro-Hispanic studies, and outlines the intellectual benefit of this endeavor to classicists and Hispanists who study Africa and the African diaspora. We posit that African-based recourse to the Greeks is a systematic effort to position creative works outside of a Eurocentric western imaginary, while claiming a place in the universal realm. Such recourse apparently contests the claims of philosophers such as Hegel, Kant and Heidegger, who located Africa and its descendants as peoples “without history”. Re-visiting the Greeks in Africa claims a right to configure alternative ways of understanding European thought. Furthermore, such recourse can help reformulate seminal questions about human rights posited earlier by the Greeks.
The paper will survey the flourishing of Afro-Latin intellectualism which began in the early 20th century and some of the theoretical approaches that can be taken to Afro-Hispanic receptions: questions of cosmopolitanism; transnationalism; nation formation; revolutionary thought; race, gender, and ethnicity; displacement, and migration. Next, it posits two possible approaches to studying these receptions and illustrates the first approach with a brief case study. a) Which mythistorical individuals have contributed substantially to the imaginaries of both ancient Hellas and the Afro-Hispanic worlds? I provide a case study of approaches to Antígona (1991, by the Equatorial Guinean writer Trinidad Morgades Besari, 1931-). Additional examples are Prometheus and Aspasia of Miletus. b) Which writers from Afro-Latin America and Africa use Greek ideas and forms which are originally and predominantly mythistorical in order to constitute a common place from which to “start anew” with questions of freedom and citizen rights? Does a predilection for the classics reflect an effort to move away from the structures of race and imperial historiography?
Barbara Goff, and Michael Simpson, Crossroads in the Black Aegean: Oedipus, Antigone, and Dramas of the African Diaspora. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. xii + 401 pp, £68.00 (Hardback). ISBN: 9780199217182.
Greenwood, Emily. “Re-Rooting the Classical Tradition: New Directions in Black Classicism” Classical Receptions Journal 1.1 (2009) 87–103.
Rizo, Elisa. Paper, “Antígona by Trinidad Morgades: a Deductive Analysis of the Official Equatorial Guinean Concept of Citizenship.” College Language Association. Charleston, SC , April 2008.
García Alvite, Dosinda. “Womanism and Social Change in Trinidad Morgades Besari’s Antígonafrom Equatorial Guinea” Cincinnati Romance Review 30 (Winter 2011): 117-129.