Haas Scholars

Duncan Wanless

Becoming the First Free Town in the Americas: Mobilizing Afro-Mexican Memory, Performance, and Local History in Yanga, Veracruz, 1932-1990

Today, the town of Yanga, Veracruz, Mexico identifies itself as the First Free Town in the Americas because of its origins in the first successful slave revolt in the Americas. Yanga is an anomaly in Mexican culture because it has actively embraced and even mythologized the role of Africans in Mexico’s past. Duncan’s history honors thesis will combine archival research with oral histories to analyze the development of the cultural institutions through which residents of Yanga came to commemorate this history during the 20th century. By putting a local history of celebration in conversation with a national history of erasure, this project aims to show how the descendants of African slaves in a specific community with a unique past have claimed visibility for themselves and their history.

  • Major: History and Spanish
  • Mentor: Elena Schneider, History