SJSU’s University Scholars Series continues March 22, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229 with a lecture by Associate Professor Shannon Rose Riley, who will discuss her book “Performing Race and Erasure: Cuba, Haiti, and US Culture, 1898-1940.”
When Riley was a graduate student at the University of California, Davis – with a background in fine arts, performance art and video, among other artistic disciplines – a conversation with a respected colleague more than a decade ago encouraged her to follow her passion for the nations of Cuba and Haiti and their impact on American arts, culture and society.
Riley said the spark that led to her book grew out of a conversation she had with the late Marc Blanchard, a highly regarded UC Davis comparative literature professor, who was impressed with her passion on the subject.
“I was talking about my belief that those countries, which are on opposite sides of the Windward Passage and provide a corridor for travel between the U.S. East Coast and the Panama Canal, have had a major impact on culture in the United States,” Riley said.
The proximity has been significant to the nation’s artistic culture as well as perceptions of race and racial relations in the U.S. Riley’s interest in the Caribbean grew out of a trip she made to Haiti through the Art Institute of Chicago as a young art student.