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Stephen M. Fay

was born on 28 January 1940 in Havana, Cuba, to a middle-class family of Catalan descent. Barnet’s parents owned a successful autoparts business and sent their son to an exclusive American school in the city center. Although educated in an Anglophone and US-centric environment, Barnet was entranced by the popular Cuban culture he witnessed in the solar (tenement building) opposite his family home, where the noisy comings and goings of the residents of African, Chinese, Central European, Middle Eastern, and North African descent gave the young Barnet his first taste of the island’s ethnic and cultural heterogeneity. His initial ambition was to work in television and radio, for which he took classes in the city’s Institute of Advertising in the late 1950s, but the victory of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement and the flight of the dictator Fulgencio Batista on 1 January 1959 inspired a change of professional direction.

Barnet enrolled ...

Article

Miguel Barnet is the author of Biografía de un cimarrón (Autobiography of a Runaway Slave, 1966), which recounts Esteban Motejo's life as a runaway slave in Cuba and as a soldier in the Spanish-American War (1895–1898). Other works by Barnet include Canción de Raquel Rachel ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

explorer, the son of Colonel Joseph Burton and Martha Beckwith Burton was born on 19 March 1821 in Torquay, Devon, England. As a military officer in the British Army, Joseph Burton traveled regularly, and his son Richard grew up in France and different Italian states. He showed early in life a tremendous gift for learning languages, and he eventually mastered Arabic to the point he regularly passed for an Arab or Persian or an Indian Muslim. Burton was admitted to Oxford University in 1840, but his wild behavior eventually led to his dismissal in 1842. His taste for adventure led him to join the British colonial army in India, and he first visited Africa en route from England via the Cape of Good Hope to Mumbai (Bombay). From 1842 until 1849, Burton mastered Arabic, Farsi, and Hindustani as he served as a British intelligence officer.

Burton ...

Article

Ari Nave

Sir Richard Burton spoke twenty-five languages and multiple dialects, including Greek, Latin, English, French, Italian, Marathi, Punjab, Arabic, and Hindi. During his travels he observed an enormous range of cultural practices, which he documented in forty-three manuscripts. He also wrote two books of poetry and four volumes of folklore.

Born in Torquay, England, Burton was raised by his English parents primarily in France. He briefly attended Trinity College, Oxford, but was expelled in 1842 for insubordination. He then joined the Bombay army, and served in India (in present-day Pakistan) until 1850. Working as an intelligence officer, Burton learned to impersonate Muslim merchants. His reputation was called into question and his military career cut short, however, when a rival officer spread word that Burton had been investigating homosexual bathhouses in Karachi, failing to divulge that Burton had done so under orders from a senior officer.

After returning to France and ...

Article

Stefania Capone

was born on 12 August 1912 in Salvador da Bahia to Antonio Joaquim de Souza Carneiro, a civil engineer and a professor at the Polytechnic School of Bahia, and Laura Coelho de Souza Carneiro. Édison’s mother died young, around 1922, after giving birth to seven children. In 1925, Antonio Carneiro married Georgina Rocha, who had difficult relationships with her stepsons. Édison grew in a family of African descent that was considered “socially white”—uma familia de “negros broncos,” as stated by Ruth Landes (1994) generally respected and particularly skilled at developing ties with the Bahian elites They were not rich but despite recurrent economic difficulties all the children received a good education two sons followed the path of their father becoming engineers the other three graduated in law including Édison and his elder brother Nelson Carneiro who became a congressman the two daughters became school ...

Article

Lamonte Aidoo

was born on 10 August 1823 in the town of Caxias in the northeastern Brazilian province of Maranhão to João Manuel Gonçalves Dias and Vicência Ferreira. Among the nation’s most celebrated writers, Dias was one of the foremost proponents of Brazilian Romanticism and the nineteenth-century literary movement known as Indianism.

His father was a Portuguese immigrant and a leader of the Portuguese loyalists against the Brazilians in the final stages of the independence movement Dias s mother was a mixed race woman of Gê Indian and African ancestry and mistress of João Manuel Though Dias is most known for his Indianist or nativist poetry that celebrated Brazil s indigenous populations he never openly acknowledged his heritage Instead his mixed race heritage and the illegitimacy of his birth would haunt him throughout his life as a constant source of shame insecurity and heartbreak When he was 6 years old his father ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Beninese ethnographer and novelist, was born on 16 April 1890 in the southern Beninese city of Porto Novo to a very wealthy family. His father Alamavo Hazoumé was one of the chief advisors of King Toffa of Porto Novo, a self-proclaimed modern ruler who had collaborated closely with the French government against his rival Dahomey. Alamavo was a fervent believer in Western education, especially after he visited Paris on a diplomatic mission for King Toffa in 1895. His son kept a photograph of his father taken on this trip for the rest of his own life as a precious heirloom.

Alamavo Hazoumé sent his son Paul to mission schools run by French White Fathers missionaries in Porto Novo. There, Hazoumé so impressed his teachers, especially the ethnographer Reverend Francis Aupiais, that after graduating from the mission school, he worked for it as a teaching assistant, from 1905 to 1907 ...

Article

Orquídea Ribeiro

Angolan writer, poet, essayist, journalist, and folklorist, was born in Luanda, Angola, on 17 August 1909. He was the son of a Portuguese father, Arnaldo Gonçalves Ribas, and an Angolan mother, Maria da Conceição Bento Faria, a prototype of African ladies of the time, who kept the original sources of her culture alive. He attended primary and secondary school in Luanda, the Lyceum-Seminar of Luanda, and the Luanda Salvador Correia High School. After a short stay in Portugal to study commercial arithmetic, Ribas returned to Angola to work in the Directorate of Finance and Accounting. He resided in various cities of Angola, namely Novo Redondo (Sumbe), and Benguela, Bie, and Ndalatando.

Ribas gradually went blind during his early twenties but remained an indefatigable researcher and writer publishing books and articles on the culture of Angola from oral tradition to religious rites and culinary arts At the age of thirty ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to upper-middle-class mixed-race parents, Roumain attended excellent schools in both Haiti and Europe, where he acquired remarkable language skills (he spoke English, German, and Spanish, in addition to French and Creole) and a profound understanding of European cultures. At a young age, he rejected his parents' cosmopolitanism, returning to Haiti from Paris in 1927 to help found La Revue Indigène. This journal, which was instrumental in the development of a specifically Haitian literary aesthetic rooted in traditional peasant life, published many of Roumain's early poems. Roumain wrote prodigiously and fearlessly during this period, publishing two collections of novellas in 1931 (La Proie et l'ombre and Les Fantoches) that denounced the greed of Haiti's ruling class.

In 1934 Roumain was elected secretary-general of the Haitian Communist Party, which he had helped establish. That same year, Haitian president Sténio Vincent alarmed by the forceful ...