Black in Print

Plotting the Coordinates of Blackness in Central America

By Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Black Studies, Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism
Series: SUNY series, Afro-Latinx Futures
Hardcover : 9781438492810, 294 pages, May 2023
Paperback : 9781438492827, 294 pages, November 2023

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Preface: Coastal Stories
Introduction: Fictions of Blackness and Their Narrative Power

Part 1. Pacific/Pacífico

1. Disappearing Acts

Part 2. Interior/Centro

2. Strategies of Containment

3. Mesoamerican Core, Kriol Periphery

Part 3. Caribbean/Caribe

4. Multicultural Plots

5. From Caribbean Sea to Digital Shore

Conclusion: The Battlegrounds of Central American Identity
Appendix: Transcript of the “Cocorí” Episode on Radio Ambulante
Works Cited

Explores the role of print media in conversations about race and belonging across Central America.


Black in Print examines the role of narrative, from traditional writing to new media, in conversations about race and belonging in the isthmus. It argues that the production, circulation, and consumption of stories has led to a trans-isthmian imaginary that splits the region along racial and geographic lines into a white-mestizo Pacific coast, an Indigenous core, and a Black Caribbean. Across five chapters, Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar identifies a series of key moments in the history of the development of this imaginary: Independence, Intervention, Cold-War, Post-Revolutionary, and Digital Age. Gómez Menjívar's analysis ranges from literary beacons such as Rubén Darío and Miguel Ángel Asturias to less studied intellectuals such as Wingston González and Carl Rigby. The result is a fresh approach to race, the region, and its literature. Black in Print understands Central American Blackness as a set of shifting coordinates plotted on the axes of language, geography, and time as it moves through print media.

Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar is Associate Professor of Media Arts at the University of North Texas. She is coeditor (with Héctor Nicolás Ramos Flores) of Hemispheric Blackness and the Exigencies of Accountability; editor of Amefrica in Letters: Literary Interventions from Mexico to the Southern Cone; coeditor (with Gloria Elizabeth Chacón) of Indigenous Interfaces: Spaces, Technology, and Social Networks in Mexico and Central America; and coauthor (with William Noel Salmon) of Tropical Tongues: Language Ideologies, Endangerment, and Minority Languages in Belize.


"Black in Print challenges commonplaces about mestizo Central America, bringing to light 'new' Guatemalan-Belizean Garifuna works and tracing a genealogy of Blackness that will enrich literary studies of the region." — Yvette Aparicio, author of Post-Conflict Central American Literature: Searching for Home and Longing to Belong

"Gómez Menjívar's book is a welcome addition to studies of Central America, both for its breadth and for its focus on narratives of Blackness. Far from concentrating on a single period or corpus of texts, Black in Print proposes a matrix to understand and analyze how Blackness has played out in discourses about the nation and national identity across different locales and contexts." — Jorge Marturano, author of Narrativas de encierro en la República cubana