ArteSana: Celebrating the Life and Work of Josefina Báez

About the Event

On Thursday, October 5, 2023, we co-hosted ArteSana, a conversation and celebration of the Josefina Báez Papers as part of the Latino Arts and Activisms Collection at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The event, held at Maison Française, was designed to mark the acquisition at Columbia and promote a greater understanding of the importance and vibrancy of the work of writer, theater, and performer Josefina Báez. The conversation was sponsored by Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the Office of the Provost as part of our Climate of Inclusiveness Initiative.

Professor Frances Negrón-Muntaner moderated the conversation with Professors Liamar Durán Almarza, Lorgia García Peña, Inmaculada Lara Bonilla, and Sharina Maillo-Pozo. Josefina Báez offered a reading and engaged the speakers and audience in a Q&A.

Event Speakers

Josefina Baez Headshot

Josefina Báez (La Romana, Dominican Republic/New York)

Storyteller, ArteSana, performer, writer, theater director, educator, devotee. Founder and director of Latinarte/Ay Ombe Theatre (April 1986). Alchemist of artistic/creative life process, Performance Autology© (creative process based on the autobiography of the doer). Her published books include Dominicanish, Comrade, Bliss ain’t playing, Dramaturgia I & II, Como la una/Como uma, Levente no. Yolayorkdominicanyork,  De Levente. And four texts for performance theater,  Canto de Plenitud, Latin In (autology anthology) y ¿Por qué mi nombre es Marysol? Why is my name Marysol? (a story for children). Joy is a vital element in her narrative, practice, and teachings. Báez, who immigrated to New York from the Dominican Republic, has spent her artistic life exploring the concepts of inner and outer identities of migrants into public explorations of language, culture and community.


Frances Negrón-Muntaner

Frances Negrón-Muntaner

Filmmaker, writer, curator, scholar and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, where she is also the founding curator of the Latino Arts and Activism Archive and the Gallery at the Center. Among her books and publications are: Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (CHOICE Award, 2004), The Latino Media Gap (2014), and Sovereign Acts: Contesting Colonialism in Native Nations and Latinx America (2017). Among her films are Brincando el charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican (1994),  Small City, Big Change (2013), and War for Guam (2015). For her work as a scholar and filmmaker, Negrón-Muntaner has received Ford, Truman, Rockefeller, and Pew fellowships. In 2008, the United Nations’ Rapid Response Media Mechanism recognized her as a global expert in the areas of mass media and Latin/o American studies. She is also recipient of the Lenfest Award, one of Columbia University’s most prestigious recognitions for excellence in teaching and scholarship (2012) and the Latin American Studies Association’s Frank Bonilla Public Intellectual Award (2019). From 2016-2019, she served as the director of Unpayable Debt, a working group at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference that studied debt regimes in the world. She co-created “Caribbean Syllabus: Life and Debt in the Caribbean” and launched Valor y Cambio, an art, digital storytelling and just economy project. 

Emilia Duran Almarza

Professor Emilia María Durán Almarza

Liamar Durán-Almarza is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oviedo, Spain. She specializes in postcolonial writing and performance. In this field, she has authored a monograph Performeras del Dominicanyork: Josefina Báez and Chiqui Vicioso (PUV 2010), edited several volumes, such Diasporic Women’s Writing. (En)Gendering Literature and Performance (Routledge 2014), Debating the Afropolitan (Routledge 2019) and Performing Cultures of Equality (Routledge 2022). Her recent work focuses on the exploration of relationality and solidarity in the work of contemporary postcolonial performers.


Lorgia García Peña

Professor Lorgia García Peña

Lorgia García Peña is Professor of Latinx Studies at the Effron Center for the Study of America and the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, the co-founder of Freedom University Georgia, and the author of three books: Translating Blackness (2022), Community as Rebellion (2022) and The Borders of Dominicanidad (Duke 2016). She is the co-editor of the Texas University Press series, Latinx: the Future is now and the co-director of Archives of Justice. She writes and teaches in English and Spanish about the intersections of blackness, colonialism and migration, centering Black Latinx lives.


Inmaculada Lara Bonilla

Professor Inmaculada Lara Bonilla

Inmaculada Lara Bonilla is an author and Associate Professor of Latin American and Latinx Literature and Cultural Studies at Hostos Community College, CUNY, where she also serves as the Director of the Latin American Writers Institute and as Chief Editor of the Hostos Review/ Revista Hostosiana. Prof. Lara-Bonilla's research has appeared in national and international journals, such as Latino Studies, Public, New York History, Cuadernos de ALDEEU, and Chicana/Latina Studies. Her academic writing has also been included in edited volumes and reference volumes such as Gale Literary Research or Equality Archive. 


Sharina Maillo-Pozo

Professor Sharina Maillo-Pozo

Sharina Maillo-Pozo is Assistant Professor of Spanish/Latinx Studies at the University of Georgia. She specializes in Latinx and Caribbean literature and culture, with special attention to the cultural production of the Dominican Republic and its diaspora in the United States. She is working on two book projects:  Beyond Borderlands. Popular Music in Contemporary Dominican/Dominican-York Literature and Performance and Tracing the Legacy of Camila Henríquez Ureña through Translation and Beyond. Co-authored with Dr. Anne Roschelle. (Under contract by Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña Press).



The event is sponsored by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Office of the Provost at Columbia University in the City of New York.