Let Spirit Speak! A Journey Through the African Diaspora by Vanessa Valdes - Literary Analysis Essay

Published: 2021-08-18
848 words
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Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Book review
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Vanessa Valdes explore the opulent aspects of the African culture portrayed among Africans that stay in Diaspora. This book is a collection of essays about African Diaspora studies from the different disciplines. The author celebrates the literary and artistic productions of the black inhabitants. Culture alienation was one of the profound effects that many Africans experienced in the new western countries they migrated. However, some cultural elements were challenging to abandon as the people shifted to the new locations. The introduction of the book indicates that the book originated in 2010 after a conference entitled Let Spirit Speak! Cultural Journeys through the African Diaspora that happened at New York City College. The books collection encompasses various fields of study such as anthropology, history, African American studies, art, and Africana Studies. The central theme of the book is the diversity of the cultural production that the African people portrayed in the different parts of Europe and America. The author has employed various methodologies and theoretical approaches to convey the richness of the African culture to the audience of the book.

Fundamentally, the book is organized into nine chapters comprising of an introduction, invocation section, and finally a conclusion. The introductory part contains the definition of the term Africa diaspora. In the book, African diaspora refers to the descendants of the Africans that were forcefully shipped from Africa to Europe and America during the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries (Valdes 1). Additionally, the introduction of the collection highlights the main scope of the entire book as it purely dwells on the literature, art, and music of the black Americans that is those Africans that currently stay in America who are the descendants of slaves. However, the introduction does not outline the underlying impulse that triggered the design of the collection before the conference happened.

Even though the primary focus of the book is cultural production, it also covers the distinct historical periods. The manuscript entails the theoretical approaches, countries, as well as the English and Spanish languages. The geographical location of places is also considered in the layout of this volume. The first segment describes the Caribbean nation invocation as it focuses on the Afro-descendants (Valdes 12). The introductory essays depict the origin of Afro-descendants from the prominent countries which include Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. This section of the collection highlights Caribbean culture is explicitly dealing with issues of religion, blackness, gender, and sexuality. However, the last segment of the book contains essays that revolve around Africa, the United States, Brazil, and some parts of Europe. This section presents a broader and in-depth analysis of the cultural production that is linked to the African diaspora. The most critical areas that are discussed include resistance, invisibility, marginalization, and religion.

The book has two chapters that exclusively discuss the religious practices in the Caribbean context. The first chapter presents the captivating analysis of Des homes et des dieux, which is a Haitian documentary film. The second chapter explores the famous musician called David Rudder. David used to play music and other performances in the Trinidadian during religious functions. Sophie Saint provides a challenging analysis of the 2002 documentary directed by Lescot. She explores the marginalization and resistance that the gay men in Haiti experienced (Valdes 14). The author provides valuable insights in the manner in which sexuality, religion, sexuality, and gender determined the relationship among people in the Contemporary Haiti. From the analysis of the author, the people who adopted the Caribbean religion and Haitian Afro religion defended their sexual preference using Vodou (Valdes 23). Also, the author illustrates basis and understanding of the self-affirmation strategies and resistance options for the marginalized people in the Caribbean.

In the collection, Katya Ysayevs essay purposefully focuses on the African American culture. The essay highlight the prominent African musical instrument known as Banjo (Valdes 158). Many Africans both in South America and the Caribbean played banjo, and this act symbolized the kind of resistance they showed to the western culture. Katya narrates the geographical route the instrument followed until it arrived in the foreign land through the numerous images. The accompany dances that the African diaspora performed indicated the postcolonial lens that the descendants of the slaves displayed in America.

Vanessa Valdes book is a collection of articles from different sources. The author carefully combined essays from other writers to convey the central message the experiences of African Americas in the diaspora. The book contains the essays wrote by Katya ysayev, Alison McLetchie, Heather Shirley, and Maria Elba Torres. Each piece in the collection has a distinct manner in which it contributes to the overall thematic concern of the book (Valdes 28).

In conclusion, Vanessa has successfully described the lifestyle of the black inhabitants of Diaspora. In her book, she has carefully selected essays from different authors to explain the marginalization, resistance, culture, and religion of the African Diaspora. Katyas article elaborately depicts the music trend and practices of the African Diaspora through the musical instrument banjo.

Work Cited

Valdes, Vanessa K. Let Spirit Speak! Cultural Journey through the African Diaspora. New York: State University of New York Press, 2012. Kindle Edition.

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