Commenting on “Cartographies of Historical Trauma: Hospitable Spaces in African American Literature” by Paula Barba, from the University of Salamanca

Since last February we celebrated Black History Month with some interesting seminars, I decided to attend one called “Cartographies of Historical Trauma: Hospitable Spaces in African American Literature” that took place on February the 27thand was held by Paula Barba Guerrero, a visiting research fellow at the Department of English Studies of my home university, the University of Salamanca, where she is a member of Dr. Manzanas European research project “Erasmus+: Hospitality in European Film.” She is currently engaged in writing her PhD thesis and her research interests include space and border studies, vulnerability and memory, and what hospitality entails for so-called ‘ethnic subgroups’ in the US, particularly for Americans of African descent.

In the seminar she basically explained what her PhD is about, stating that literature has two main purposes: as entertainment and as cultural product, focusing on the fact that identity can be approached through literature and it can be a space to overcome trauma. More importantly, she focuses also on the importance of neo-slave literature, since its focus is not on racial differences (as it happens in slave literature) but on African-American identity and the inner struggle that goes hand in hand with the trauma people from different generations lived: 

1stgeneration: escape the present (Home: Africa)

2ndgeneration: try to forget the past, mimic the new culture (Home: America)

3rdgeneration: remembering the past, sense of not belonging (Where is home?)

Literature is the way to revisit, to change, the way to make history and understand the way of facing and overcoming of trauma. 

I thought it was a good idea to share it with you, since the seminar was really organized and had a great approach, and, even though it was a hard and extensive topic to cover, she managed to make everything clear and interesting to the audience. Moreover, I would like to leave her e-mail here (, just in case someone wants to reach her and ask her about her work, she is really hard-working and enthusiastic about her work, and would be willing to talk with any of you that are interested in the theme.

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