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Birkbeck's Big Ideas | Black History Month 2019: The African Presence in Spain from the 16th to the 18th Centuries

Venue: External, Stratford Library, 3 The Grove, E15 1EL

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Birkbeck's Big Ideas is a series of thought-provoking free public lectures, delivered in the local community by Birkbeck researchers from a wide range of subject areas. Everyone is welcome to attend, regardless of previous educational experience, and the lectures are a chance to learn something new.

Join us as we launch the series for 2019/20 at its new home in Stratford Library, with a lecture to mark Newham Black History Month 2019 by Dr Carmen Fracchia from Birkbeck's Department of Cultures and Languages, which will put the spotlight on a black diaspora in Spain.

Very little is known about the African Diaspora in Spain between 16th-18th century, since their presence and cultural contributions have been erased from history books. This lecture will draw on visual and written examples of how Africans and their descendants were represented in art and literature. 

Recently discovered collective poems written in the first ever founded 'black' confraternities of the Western World and the very little known and fascinating artistic career of the freedman painter Juan de Pareja at the Spanish Royal Court will reveal the African voice of enslaves and liberated people in Spain. The ways in which Spaniard artists and their wealthy clients depicted their enslaved Africans and Afro-Hispanics in paintings, drawings and sculptures will also be introduced, to illustrate the origins of contemporary racism.

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  • Dr Carmen Fracchia -

    Born in Paraguay (South America), she studied BA History of Art at the University of Siena (Italy) and completed her PhD in the same field in University College London (UK). She has been teaching at Birkbeck University of London since 1992. She was invited to teach and share her research in Spain (Granada, Madrid) and in the United States (Chicago, Pittsburgh). She published in the UK, the USA, Europe and Latin America. Her book 'Black but Human': Slavery and Visual Arts in Habsburg Spain (1480-1700)' will be published by Oxford University Press in October this year. Her main research interests are the cultural contributions made by Afro-Spanish people between 1400 to 1700 in Spain; the ways in which Afro-Hispanic people saw themselves in the visual arts and in poetry, and the ways in which the African Diaspora was represented in visual art by Spaniards artists.