Event Date
Oct 22, 2009
Alejandra Dubovsky, UC Berkeley
Prof.Ugo Nwokeji, UC Berkeley




Colonial Anthroponomy and Gender Identity in a Former Slave-Trading Society
Prof. Ugo Nwokeji, African American Studies 

By virtue of being an aspect of language, naming expresses power and social change. From this perspective, systems of surnames in precolonial Africa and their transformation during the colonial period is a narrative of power relations in precolonial Africa on the one hand and between empire and its colonial/postcolonial subjects on the other. The broader issues concern gender relations and identity in precolonial Africa, imperial culture, cultural imperialism, as well as the priorities of social science and its widespread misunderstandings of the manner by which Africans adopt Western ways.

Seeking Freedom, Finding News: The Journey of Thomas de la Torre, A Slave in Spanish Florida
Alejandra Dubovsky, History 

In 1686, Thomas de la Torre, a 46-year mulatto slave, joined a Spanish military expedition against Port Royal, South Carolina. While the Spanish forces were defeated by ravaging storms, Thomas survived. The foul weather, however, proved to be only the beginning of his misfortunes; Thomas endured English imprisonment, pirate raids, and Indian threats, before being able to return to St. Augustine. This paper analyzes Thomas de la Torre’s testimony, a previously unexamined Spanish source, which gives insight into both the many forces shaping the colonial southeast and the ways in which an individual could travel and traverse through these contested spaces.