This book emerged out of an international conference hosted
Tulane University. We invited scholars from Central Amer-
ica, the United States, and elsewhere to explore the history of people of
African descent throughout the mainland Caribbean in an effort not just
to insert Central America into the African diaspora, but to expose the
deep connections between this region and the wider Caribbean. Our re-
lated goal was to challenge diaspora scholars everywhere to expand their
analytical approaches to include areas whose own diasporan histories do
not always fit so readily into traditional frameworks.
This effort would not have been possible without the generous support
of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane and the Dean of
Faculty’s Office at Mount Holyoke College. Support was also provided by
Tulane University’s Center for Scholars, the Department of History, the
Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Latin American Library.
Thomas Reese, director of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies,
always understood the importance of this research and championed our
cause. Thanks to him and the staff of the Stone Center, our contribu-
tors found a welcoming reception at Tulane and the conference reached
a wide and engaged public. Denise Frazier, Amisha Sharma, Richard
Conway, and Edith Wolfe at Tulane and Dawn Larder and Mary Heyer
at Mount Holyoke all contributed to the smooth running of the confer-
ence. The research leading to the essays by Cáceres, Meléndez, and Gud-
mundson was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities
Collaborative Research Program (Grant #RZ-20704-01), whose support
is gratefully acknowledged. Gudmundson translated from the Spanish
original the essays by Cáceres and Meléndez for this volume. The map for
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