About the event

Watch the recording of the video here:

Join us with La Casa de las Americas and the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Archives for "Reimagining the Black Archive: From Samaná to the Americas" an interdisciplinary panel discussion, exploration, and re-imagining of the archives of Samaná with scholars, archivists, and artists Sophia Monegro, Jhensen Ortiz, and Lizania Cruz, who will be joined in discussion by moderator Ryan Mann-Hamilton.

Samaná holds some of the oldest stories of Indigenous resistance, Black freedom dreams, and circum-Caribbean migrations in the Americas. For centuries, African and African descendants molded the peninsula as a refuge from slavery and a space for economic opportunity, this attracted thousands of African American immigrants to Samaná in the nineteenth century. Yet, the intellectual, cultural, and material legacy of these free, freed, and freedom-seeking Black people remains in relative obscurity. This panel proposes new pathways for reimaging the archive of Samaná. Panelists engage Samaná history and Samaneses today using a variety of fields, from artist practices to library sciences. Our discussion shows how approaching the archive with care for Black people and consideration for preserving everyday people's legacies radically transforms what historians often perceive as a lack of source material into archival abundance.

Participant Bios:

Sophia Monegro

Sophia Monegro is a budding literary scholar working at the intersection of Slavery Studies, Black Women’s Intellectual History, and Dominican Studies. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Monegro is also a Research Associate at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and a Mellon Mays Fellow. Her publications include: “Dominican Americans,” co-authored with Dr. Ramona Hernández in Ilan Stavans’ Oxford Bibliographies in Latino Studies, and several book reviews in the Ethnic and Third World Literature Review of Books for which she serves as Chief Editor. Monegro’s dissertation reads the subtexts of archival documents to trace Black women’s intellectual contributions to Caribbean radicalism from Spanish colonial slavery in Santo Domingo to the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the XIX century.

Jhensen Ortiz

Jhensen Ortiz is a Queens native librarian, archivist, researcher, and writer. He currently works as a librarian at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Archives and Library at The City College of New York. Both in his research and in his work as a librarian, Jhensen is passionate about digital library collections, history of the Dominican community in the U.S., 20th century visual and material culture, and audiovisual media. He holds a B.A. in History from the City College of New York; and a dual master degree in Library Science and History with a certificate in Archives and the Preservation of Cultural Materials from Queens College (CUNY).

Lizania Cruz

Lizania Cruz (she/her) is a Dominican participatory artist, and designer interested in how migration affects ways of being & belonging. Through research, oral history, and audience participation, she creates projects that highlight a pluralistic narrative on migration. Cruz has been an artist-in-residence and fellow at the Laundromat Project Create Change (2017-2019), Agora Collective Berlin (2018), Design Trust for Public Space (2018), Recess Session (2019), IdeasCity:New Museum (2019), Stoneleaf Retreat (2019), Robert Blackburn Workshop Studio Immersion Project (SIP) (2019), A.I.R. Gallery (2020-2021), BRIClab: Contemporary Art (2020-2021), Center for Book Arts (2020-2021), Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, Visual Arts (2021-2022), Artists Circle on Climate Displacement Fellowship, Institute of Othering and Belonging, Berkeley University (2021), Planet Texas 2050 Artist Resident — University of Texas (2022), and International Studio & Curatorial Program, ISCP (2022).

Her work has been exhibited at the Arlington Arts Center, BronxArtSpace, Project for Empty Space, Oolite Art Center, Jenkins Johnson Project Space, The August Wilson Center, Sharjah’s First Design Biennale, Untitled, Art Miami Beach, The Highline, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts among others. She has presented solo shows at A.I.R. Gallery and CUE Art Foundation. Most recently she was part of ESTAMOS BIEN: LA TRIENAL 20/21 at el Museo del Barrio, the first national survey of Latinx artists by the institution. Furthermore, her artworks and installations have been featured in Hyperallergic, Fuse News, KQED arts, Dazed Magazine, Garage Magazine and the New York Times.

This event is in collaboration with La Casa de las Americas at LaGuardia Community College and
CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Archives at City College of New York
with media support from Environment Community Humanities Oasis (ECHO) project led by Ryan Mann-Hamilton as part of the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research from the Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center.