Dr. Ada Vilageliu Díaz
The University of the District of Columbia
Ada Vilageliu-Díaz received her Ph.D. in English from Howard University and her B.A. in English Philology from Universidad de La Laguna, Canary Islands. She has taught composition courses as full time lecturer at Howard University and Bowie State University. She currently teaches writing and literature courses at the University of the District of Columbia. Her research focuses on rhetoric and composition, community-based teaching, community-based scholarship, Latinx and Caribbean literature and writing. Her poetry has been published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, American University’s Festival Latino-Americano de Poesía, and Knocking on the Door of the White House: Latina and Latino Poets in Washington, D.C. Her creative writing is based on legends and myths about the indigenous Guanches from the Canary Islands and focused on reconstructing a fragmented African Latina identity. She is also a documentary filmmaker. Her directorial debut was in 2014 with the documentary Near the River about environmental women leaders in the DC area. This film was in the official selection of film festivals in Colombia, Brazil, India, Spain, and the US. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, she created--with the students of the UDC Latinx Student Association--a virtual story time featuring Latinx children's books. Dr. Ada Vilageliu-Diaz is on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Community Writing.
Canary Islands and Barcelona
My father Josep Vilageliu Ponsa, who is from Barcelona, made a film called Iballa about a Guanche princess. In the middle of filming, my grandparents decided to wear the clothes that the museum had given us for filming and staged a battle. The Canary Islands were discovered by Columbus in 1492 and conquered by Spain. My maternal grandfather Ismael, who is from the Canary Islands, wore the traditional Guanche clothes and the fighting stick. My paternal grandfather, who is from Barcelona, wore the conquistador's armor. It was not until recently that I realized that abuelo Ismael and abuela Carmen were descendants of the original peoples of the islands. That film and their performed identities were a reflection of my own heritage, one that was unavailable to me until I took a DNA test and conducted genealogical research. My teaching, scholarship, and writing reflect my attempts at searching for healing in telling marginalized and erased stories such as mine.