Editors: Drs. Andrea J. Queeley (Florida International University) and Devyn Spence Benson (Davidson College)
In the context of enduring narratives of color-blindness, racial democracy, and post-raciality predominant throughout the Americas, narratives that contradict lived realities, what stories about black lives get produced and reproduced by black people themselves? What are the transformative possibilities and particular limitations of the medium of film in bringing blackness from side-kick to center, from object to subject? What does it mean to be a black Cuban woman filmmaker whose work intervenes upon the erasure and distortion of the lives and deaths of black people in Cuba and beyond? Breaking Silences—an interdisciplinary, multi-media, bilingual edited volume—engages these questions through an exploration of the work of Gloria Rolando. Born in Havana in 1953, Gloria Rolando is one of the most prolific Cuban filmmakers of her era. She began filmmaking in the 1990’s immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union and the start of the Special Period in Cuba. Heavily influenced by legendary black Cuban filmmaker Sara Gómez, the only other black Cuban woman filmmaker at the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) since its founding in 1959, Rolando centers memory, the interconnectedness of Caribbean and African descendant people, and an affirmative, self-determined blackness in her work. The twelve documentary films and one feature that she has produced1 illustrate the power of aesthetic practice in not only unearthing and remembering the silenced, disfigured histories of people of African descent, but also in casting light upon and perhaps shaping the narratives of the present.
In spite of Rolando’s significant body of work and her position as a trailblazing artist who has managed to produce this work in the face of significant obstacles and received national and international recognition, there has yet to be a comprehensive assessment of her work and influence. Consisting of scholarly papers, short stories, creative essays, poems, reflections, conversations/interviews, and visual art—both of stills from Rolando’s films and of art inspired by her work and/or related to its themes—the volume brings together scholars and cultural workers. It will produce a long overdue consideration of her contributions to multiple fields of inquiry, including Media Studies, History, Anthropology, Women’s Studies, Cuban Studies, African Diaspora Studies, Ethnomusicology, and Religious Studies. Breaking Silences will be bookended by the editors’ introduction and a conclusion containing Rolando’s reflections both on her career and on the contributions included in the volume.
As currently conceptualized, it will be organized thematically, divided into four sections: Conception—this will focus on her early life, her work’s vision and inspiration; Birth—this will include work on the filmmaking production process; Life—here, the films and themes will be explored; and Afterlife—this will focus on the impact of her work nationally and internationally. We invite submissions that address themes as related to Rolando’s work including, but not limited to, the following: memory, Cuban popular culture, migration and community formation, Afro-Cuban religious practice, anti-black racism, Diasporic consciousness, activism, the archive, film production process, the documentary genre, and the black aesthetic.
We invite original submissions (in English or Spanish) of scholarly papers, short stories, creative essays, poems, reflections, conversations/interviews, and visual art related to and/or inspired by Gloria Rolando and her work. All submissions are due by October 15th and should include:
Following review of submissions, selected contributors will be asked to submit the full work by February 1st, 2019.
1 A list of her films include: Oggun: An Eternal Present (1991), Hijos de Baraguá/My Footsteps in Baraguá (1996), Eyes of the Rainbow (1997), El Alacrán/The Scorpion (2000), Raices de Mi Corazón/Roots of My Heart (2001), Los Marqueses de Atarés (2003), Nosotros y el Jazz/The Jazz in Us (2004), Pasajes Del Corazón y La Memoria/Cherished Island Memories (2007), 1912 Breaking the Silence Chapter 1/Voces Para Un Silencio, Capitulo 1 (2010), 1912 Breaking the Silence Chapter 2/Voces Para Un Silencio, Capitulo 2 (2011), 1912 Breaking the Silence Chapter 3/Voces Para Un Silencio, Capitulo 3 (2012), Reembarque/Reshipment (2014), and Diálogo Con Mi Abuela (2015). She is currently working on a film entitled Hermanas del Corazón, which is about a little known Black Catholic sisterhood Hermanas Oblatas de la Providencia.