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Doctor Quince Duncan Costa Rica’s Leading Afro-Caribbean writer

Doctor Quince Duncan, is an Afro-Caribbean author and activist, born in San Jose of Jamaican and Barbadian heritage, he has tapped his early life, including firsthand experience of racial discrimination, for much of his work. His parents raised Duncan in Limon, an eastern region of Costa Rica. Duncan developed talents as both a scholar and a writer, both of which he pursues today. Duncan’s writing explores the experiences and contributions of Afro-Caribbeans.

Recognized as Costa Rica’s leading Afro-Caribbean writer, Duncan has been awarded the Costa Rica’s Editorial Prize in 1978, and the National Literature Prize in 1979, for his novel Final de calle.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his Literary career, he was paid tribute as a giant of literature during Costa Rica’s XIX International Book Fair and received the highest distinction of Doctor honoris causa from the University of Costa Rica (UCR), for his outstanding work in defense of human rights, in favor of the preservation of Afro-descendant culture, as well as their academic and literary work.

Furthermore, the University Council of the National University of Costa Rica approved the request made by the Academic Council of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters to grant the distinction of Professor Emeritus, recognizing him as an authority of recognized national and international prestige.

Duncan is Costa Rica’s first novelist of African descent and one of the nation’s most esteemed contemporary writers. The grandson of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants to Limón, Quince Duncan (b. 1940) incorporates personal memories into stories about first generation Afro–West Indian immigrants and their descendants in Costa Rica. Duncan’s novels, short stories, recompilations of oral literature, and essays intimately convey the challenges of Afro–West Indian contract laborers and the struggles of their descendants to be recognized as citizens of the nation they helped bring into modernity.[2]

Through his storytelling, Duncan has become an important literary and cultural presence in a country that forged its national identity around the leyenda blanca (white legend) of a rural democracy established by a homogeneous group of white, Catholic, and Spanish peasants. By presenting legends and stories of Limón Province as well as discussing the complex issues of identity, citizenship, belonging, and cultural exile, Duncan has written the story of West Indian migration into the official literary discourse of Costa Rica. His novels Hombres curtidos (1970) and Los cuatro espejos (1973) in particular portray the Afro–West Indian community in Limón and the cultural intolerance encountered by those of African-Caribbean descent who migrated to San José. Because his work follows the historical trajectory from the first West Indian laborers to the contemporary concerns of Afro–Costa Rican people, Duncan is as much a cultural critic and sociologist as he is a novelist.

With his pen he has not only portrayed the Afro-descendant population, but also the complex issues of identity, citizenship, belonging, ethnocentrism and cultural exile.

In his vast literary production, he has reflected on the long road traveled by that population in search of equality. He is the author and co-author of more than 40 publications, including books, essays, as well as academic and research texts.

Among the most relevant texts in the field of ethnic and cultural relations, El negro en Costa Rica (1972), co-edited with historian Carlos Meléndez, has been highlighted, which has more than 15 editions and reprints; Justice for Aboriginal Australians (1981), edited by Elizabeth Adler and published by the World Council of Churches, and Theory and Practice of Racism (1988), of which he co-authored with Lorein Lowell.

Quince Duncan has made his voice heard in defense of human rights in different international forums, such as the United Nations Organization (UN), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), among others.

In March 2015 he was appointed commissioner of the Presidency of the Republic for Matters Related to the Afro-Costa Rican Community.

Duncan has also stood out for his academic work. He was a member of the University Council of the National University (UNA), director of the Institute of Latin American Studies (Idela) and coordinator of the Organizing Committee and secretary of the II University Congress of the National University. He has also been a visiting professor at several universities in the United States.

Duncan earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica. His areas of expertise include Latin American studies, literature and black history and culture in Latin America.

[1]Quince Duncan, Writer
[2]Mosby d, Dr. Dorothy E. (Author), Quince Duncan: Writing Afro-Costa Rican and Caribbean Identity, 2014

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