2024 Stanley J. Stein Lecture | Paulina L. Alberto on 'Black Legend: The Many Lives of Raúl Grigera and the Power of Racial Storytelling in Argentina'

Mar 27, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
219 Aaron Burr Hall (open to the public)


Event Description
Celebrities live their lives in constant dialogue with stories about them. But when these stories are shaped by durable racist myths, they wield undue power to ruin lives and obliterate communities. Black Legend is the haunting story of an Afro-Argentine, Raúl Grigera (“el negro Raúl”), who in the early 1900s audaciously fashioned himself into an alluring Black icon of Buenos Aires’ bohemian nightlife, only to have defamatory storytellers unmake him in the decades that followed. In this lecture, Paulina Alberto exposes the destructive, persistent power of racial storytelling and discusses how the story of Raúl Grigera contributes to narrating a new history of Black Argentina and Argentine Blackness across two centuries. Grigera’s trajectory opens new windows into lived experiences of Blackness in a “White” nation, and illuminates how one man’s experience of celebrity was not far removed from more ordinary experiences of racial stories in the flesh.
Paulina L. Alberto
Professor of African and African American Studies and of History
Harvard University

Paulina L. Alberto, an Argentine-born historian of Afro‑Latin America, is Professor of African and African American Studies and of History at Harvard University. Her work explores Afro-Latin American lives, thought, and politics as they unfolded in the aftermath of slavery, particularly in Brazil and Argentina. Alberto is the author of Terms of Inclusion: Black Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century Brazil and Black Legend: The Many Lives of Raúl Grigera and the Power of Racial Storytelling in Argentina, as well as multiple articles and chapters on race and racial ideologies in Latin America.  She is co-editor of Rethinking Race in Modern Argentina and, most recently, of Voices of the Race: Black Newspapers in Latin America, 1870-1960.  Alberto’s work has received support from the Social Science Research Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council for Learned Societies, among others, and has been recognized with the Roberto Reis Prize for Best Book in Brazilian Studies (BRASA), the Warren Dean Prize for Best Book in Brazilian History (CLAH), and the James Alexander Robertson Prize for best article in the Hispanic American Historical Review (CLAH). Most recently, Black Legend was awarded the Bolton-Johnson Prize for the Best Book in Latin American History (CLAH) and the Southern Cone Section Award for Best Book in the Social Sciences (LASA).

This lecture honors the life and work of the Princeton
Professor Stanley J. Stein (1920-2019), a visionary historian of Brazil and Latin America.

Isadora Moura Mota, Princeton University
Gabriela Nouzeilles, Princeton University

This event is open to the public. Reception to follow.

Organized by PIIRS’s Brazil LAB and the Program in Latin American Studies. Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Image: “Raúl Grijeras [sic] – el negro Raúl” (ca. 1910).
Credit: Scott Soderbergh, Michigan Photography. Archivo General de la Nación Argentina, documento fotográfico. AR-AGN-AGAS01-DDF-rg-622–288222.