Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2018-09-20 03:55Z by Steven

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Stanford University Press
September 2018
256 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781503605046
Paper ISBN: 9781503606012

Ana Paulina Lee, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies
Columbia University, New York, New York

In Mandarin Brazil, Ana Paulina Lee explores the centrality of Chinese exclusion to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. Lee considers depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents and Brazilian and Qing dynasty diplomatic correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, she reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil’s image as a racial democracy.

Mandarin Brazil begins during the second half of the nineteenth century, during the transitional period when enslaved labor became unfree labor—an era when black slavery shifted to “yellow labor” and racial anxieties surged. Lee asks how colonial paradigms of racial labor became a part of Brazil’s nation-building project, which prioritized “whitening,” a fundamentally white supremacist ideology that intertwined the colonial racial caste system with new immigration labor schemes. By considering why Chinese laborers were excluded from Brazilian nation-building efforts while Japanese migrants were welcomed, Lee interrogates how Chinese and Japanese imperial ambitions and Asian ethnic supremacy reinforced Brazil’s whitening project. Mandarin Brazil contributes to a new conversation in Latin American and Asian American cultural studies, one that considers Asian diasporic histories and racial formation across the Americas.

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Representation Is More Than Skin Color

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-08-27 14:55Z by Steven

Representation Is More Than Skin Color

The New York Times
2018-08-27

Bianca Vivion Brooks, Host
ASK VIV


The Poet, Robert Hayden. Pach Brothers/Corbis, via Getty Images

Is it enough to look like the artist if you do not recognize yourself in the art?

I remember the first time I fell in love with poetry.

I was in 10th grade, and my world literature teacher, Ms. Joe, had assigned us the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden. I read the poem and at once found myself engrossed in my own memory. I, too, recalled the coldness of my childhood home and the “austere and lonely offices” of my father’s love.

In his verses, Hayden made me feel seen. The poem provided a kind of relief, to know that my childhood was not a complete anomaly, and that others had grown up in similar spaces where love was convoluted by anger and loneliness. That day Robert Hayden became my favorite poet. I held on to this particular poem for years, memorizing it not only for the comfort it provided, but also as a reminder of what good art could do.

Five years later, I discovered Robert Hayden was black. It was the first day of my African-American Literature seminar at Columbia, and I was skimming the syllabus while deciding whether or not to enroll in the course. There in italics, just beneath James Baldwin’sNotes of a Native Son” read Words in the Mourning Time (1970) by Robert Hayden. I Googled a picture of my favorite poet and laughed aloud. “So he’s black,” I thought to myself…

Read the entire article here.

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Tanya Katerí Hernández’s “Multiracials and Civil Rights”

Posted in Articles, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-08-25 02:16Z by Steven

Tanya Katerí Hernández’s “Multiracials and Civil Rights”

The Page 99 Test
2018-08-08

Marshal Zeringue

Tanya Katerí Hernández is the Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, where she co-directs the Center on Race, Law & Justice as its Head of Global and Comparative Law Programs and Initiatives.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, and reported the following:

The Page 99 Test is like some numerical sorcery from a Jorge Luis Borges story, mythical and unfathomable yet accurate all at the same time. On page 99 of Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination, I describe how the U.S. government refused to add a “multiracial” category to its list of racial categories on the decennial census form in 1997, and instead started permitting respondents to select as many racial categories apply to their racial identity. The page then notes that the most zealous of multiracial category proponents were not satisfied by this government method of enumerating the population of racially mixed residents “because multiple box checking does not directly promote a distinct multiracial identity.” Page 99’s insight into the entire book though is revealed in the assessment that the significance of the census racial category debate:

extends beyond the actual decision of how mixed-race persons should be counted. What is most salient is how the struggles over the census racial categories have fostered a discourse of exalting personal racial identity and characterizing any incursions on expressions of personal identity as a civil rights issue in of itself absent any mixed-race specific material inequality.

Read the entire article here.

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“You Should’ve Seen My Grandmother; She Passed for White”: African American Women Writers, Genealogy, and the Passing Genre

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Women on 2018-08-22 04:27Z by Steven

“You Should’ve Seen My Grandmother; She Passed for White”: African American Women Writers, Genealogy, and the Passing Genre

University of Sheffield
October 2015

Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature; School Learning and Teaching Lead
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
York St John University, York, United Kingdom

Ph.D. Dissertation

This thesis critiques the prevailing assumption that passing is passé in contemporary African American women’s literature.

By re-examining the work of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Dorothy West, Alice Walker, and Barbara Neely, I argue that these writers signify on canonical passing narratives – Brown’s Clotel (1853) and Clotelle (1867), Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars (1900), Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912), Larsen’s Passing (1929), and Hurst’s Imitation of Life (1933) – in order to confront and redress both the historical roots and contemporary contexts of colourism.

As well bridging this historiographic gap, I make a case for reading passing as a multivalent trope that facilitates this very process of cultural interrogation. Rather than focussing on literal episodes of passing, I consider moments of symbolic, textual, and narrative passing, as well as the genealogical and intertextual processes at play in each text which account for the spectral hauntings of the passing-for-white figure in post-civil rights literature.

In Chapter 1, I examine the relationship between passing and embodiments of beauty in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970), Bambara’s “Christmas Eve at Johnson’s Drugs N Goods” (1974) and Neely’s Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994).

In Chapter 2, I discuss passing, class, and capital in Naylor’s Linden Hills (1985) and Dorothy West’s The Wedding (1995).

In Chapter 3, I suggest that Walker and Morrison revisit Larsen’s Passing in their short stories “Source” (1982) and “Recitatif” (1983).

Finally, I conclude this project with a discussion of Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child (2015) in order to demonstrate the continued centrality of the passing trope for authors interested in colourism, genealogy, and black women’s experiences.

Embargoed here until October 2020.

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Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Women on 2018-08-17 17:15Z by Steven

Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba

University Press of Mississippi
2018-08-15
248 pages (approx.)
58 color illustrations
6 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496814432

Alison Fraunhar, Associate Professor of Art and Design
Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois

A vivid exploration of the key role played by multi-racial women in visualizing and performing Cuban identity

Repeatedly and powerfully throughout Cuban history, the mulata, a woman of mixed racial identity, features prominently in Cuban visual and performative culture. Tracing the figure, Alison Fraunhar looks at the representation and performance in both elite and popular culture. She also tracks how characteristics associated with these women have accrued across the Atlantic world. Widely understood to embody the bridge between European subject and African other, the mulata contains the sensuality attributed to Africans in a body more closely resembling the European ideal of beauty.

This symbol bears far-reaching implications, with shifting, contradictory cultural meanings in Cuba. Fraunhar explores these complex paradigms, how, why, and for whom the image was useful, and how it was both subverted and asserted from the colonial period to the present. From the early seventeenth century through Cuban independence in 1899 up to the late revolutionary era, Fraunhar illustrates the ambiguous figure’s role in nationhood, citizenship, and commercialism. She analyzes images including key examples of nineteenth-century graphic arts, avant-garde painting and magazine covers of the Republican era, cabaret and film performance, and contemporary iterations of gender.

Fraunhar’s study stands out for attending to the phenomenon of mulataje not only in elite production such as painting, but also in popular forms: popular theater, print culture, later films, and other media where stereotypes take hold. Indeed, in contemporary Cuba, mulataje remains a popular theme with Cubans as well as foreigners in drag shows, reflecting queerness in visual culture.

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Black on the Outside, White on the Inside: Peter Abelard’s Use of Race

Posted in Articles, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, Religion on 2018-08-14 02:39Z by Steven

Black on the Outside, White on the Inside: Peter Abelard’s Use of Race

Critical Philosophy of Race
Volume 6, Issue 2, 2018
pages 135-163
DOI: 10.5325/critphilrace.6.2.0135

Colleen Mccluskey, Professor of Philosophy
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

In his reply to Heloise’s complaints in the fourth of the so-called personal letters, Peter Abelard (a twelfth-century theologian) draws upon the figure of the Ethiopian queen from the biblical Song of Songs, who proclaims that she is black on the outside but beautiful on the inside. While some scholars have interpreted his discussion as a commentary on the persona of a nun, this article considers what Abelard’s remarks might mean for understanding the development of the concept of race in Western thought. In particular, it considers whether Abelard’s discussion, both in the letter and in his metaphysical writings, challenges the common (although not universal) position that Europeans did not develop a concept of race until at least the early modern period. It examines these texts to determine the extent to which his remarks reveal congruities or differences with later more explicit conceptions of race.

Read or purchase the article here.

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An Artist’s Costumed Alter Egos Cross Racial Lines

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-08-10 02:41Z by Steven

An Artist’s Costumed Alter Egos Cross Racial Lines

The New Yorker
2018-07-17

Katie Ryder


“Synchronized,” 2018.Photographs by Genevieve Gaignard / Courtesy Shulamit Nazarian

Counterfeit Currency,” a show of self-portrait photography, installation, and collage by Genevieve Gaignard, at the FLAG Art Foundation, in Chelsea, opens with a large photo of the artist on a Florida beach at dusk. As in each of her pictures, Gaignard portrays a character of her own invention, here with long, blond hair and jet-black roots, outfitted in regional strip-mall kitsch. She is stretching a towel behind her, printed to resemble a huge hundred-dollar bill; concealing her torso is a trompe-l’oeil T-shirt showing a cartoon, bikini-clad body, whose peach-beige skin tone closely resembles that of her own.

Gaignard, a woman of mixed race (her father is black, her mother white), makes photographs that play with the outward signifiers and stereotypes of race, class, and femininity, combining and remixing them into sometimes exaggerated but steadily ambiguous costumes. From character to character, she undergoes significant but not quite Shermanian transformations, with no facial prosthetics and minimal makeup, and with each portrait hinging in part on Gaignard’s ability to cross legible boundaries…

Read the entire article here.

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Albums of Inclusion: The Photographic Poetics of Caribbean Chinese Visual Kinship

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2018-08-10 00:06Z by Steven

Albums of Inclusion: The Photographic Poetics of Caribbean Chinese Visual Kinship

Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism
Volume 22, Number 2 (56)
2018-07-01
pages 35-56
DOI: 10.1215/07990537-6985666

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Issue Cover

This essay focuses on artwork that centers family photographs and home movies as a point of departure to trouble the conventional family album in order to narrate a story about Caribbean Chinese kinship. In the art examined, personal visual archives are used to respond to the lacuna of Caribbean Chinese familial intimacies from the colonial archive. Engaging shared themes of migration and racialized ideas of reproduction, three contemporary diasporic visual artists—Albert Chong, Richard Fung, and Tomie Arai—mine oral histories and family archives to blend aural and visual narratives. These artists rupture the surface of family images to trouble the bourgeois, heteronormative, and colorist scripts that often police the formation of family. The family album is rearranged and marked up; thus it becomes rendered as flesh inscribed with silent narratives. Through different forms of remixing, they engage with the affect and entanglements of family photography to form a visual vocabulary of diasporic kinship. In doing so, the artwork—collages, documentaries, installations—interrogates the afterlife of the nineteenth-century European colonial experiment of Chinese indenture, designed to install a discreet “buffer race” between the white minority and the black majority in the Caribbean after abolition. The experiment, which depended on the capacity for the Chinese to develop bourgeois domesticity in the Caribbean after abolition, failed because of sexual intimacies between people of African descent and people of Asian descent, beyond the imperial order’s imagining. Another future of familial intimacies in the diaspora is present in the artists’ aesthetic of fragmentation and collage.

Read or purchase the article here.

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‘There’s Enough Damsels in Distress’: Artist Genevieve Gaignard Wants to Undermine Your Assumptions About Beauty and Blackness

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-08-04 01:17Z by Steven

‘There’s Enough Damsels in Distress’: Artist Genevieve Gaignard Wants to Undermine Your Assumptions About Beauty and Blackness

artnet News
2018-08-03

Sarah Cascone, Associate Editor

Genevieve Gaignard, You’ve Wronged, Now Make it Right (2018). Photo courtesy of Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles/the FLAG Art Foundation, New York; ©Genevieve Gaignard.
Genevieve Gaignard, You’ve Wronged, Now Make it Right (2018). Photo courtesy of Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles/the FLAG Art Foundation, New York; ©Genevieve Gaignard.

In her first New York show, the artist creates unexpected characters that defy stereotypes.

Genevieve Gaignard’s work is deceptive—and that’s no accident. Her pleasingly arranged collages, heavily knick-knacked installations of cozy-looking domestic interiors, and well-lit, cheerfully colorful portrait photography draw the viewer in, belying her willingness to confront the sensitive issues of race, stereotypes, beauty standards, consumption, and identity.

Each photograph features Gaignard herself, transformed by wigs and costumes into a variety of characters. The artist is a fair-skinned mixed-race woman of color who can take on vastly disparate identities, casting herself one moment as a prim blonde housewife and the next as a young woman with hoop earrings and a shirt that reads “Hoodrat Thangs.”

“I’m trying to show that blackness comes in many different shades,” Gaignard explained to artnet News during a tour of her current exhibition, “Genevieve Gaignard: Counterfeit Currency,” her first in New York, at the FLAG Art Foundation

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Thinking Relationally about Race, Blackness and Indigeneity in Australia: Reflecting upon ACRAWSA’s Symposium

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Justice on 2018-08-04 00:59Z by Steven

Thinking Relationally about Race, Blackness and Indigeneity in Australia: Reflecting upon ACRAWSA’s Symposium

Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association
2018-07-18

Charlotte Sefton, Ph.D., Arab and Islamic Studies
University of Exeter

At the close of her paper, entitled ‘Navigating Power with Poetry on the Hazardous Drive toward Decolonisation’, Carolyn D’Cruz posed the vital question of whether, or not, the work of decolonisation can be pursued through engagement with nation-state level Politics. Her question recalled my recent viewing of Angela Davis and Gayatri Spivak in conversation at the Akademie der Künste on a panel entitled ‘Planetary Utopias – Hope, Desire Imaginaries in a Postcolonial World’. Aside from my general sense of wonder at seeing Davis and Spivak in conversation, one particular topic of their discussion had stuck with me; they too had disagreed on the place of the State in the futurity of justice. Whilst Davis had underscored that ‘the bourgeois nation-state, ensconced as it is in capitalism, would never be able to do the work of ensuring justice’; Spivak, in response, had questioned the real-world utility of refusing to engage it; asserting that our work is, instead, to ‘insert the subaltern into the circuit of citizenship’, that is into a structure that they could ‘work within’ as opposed to no structure at all. Whilst Davis conceded that we are tied to engaging the State for now; she maintained that a world free of violence and domination would not be able to retain ‘any aspect’ of the State as she understood it; Spivak maintained that the State must be seen through a more complexed lens, as both ‘poison and medicine’. AWCRAWSA’s latest symposium, ‘Thinking Relationally about Race, Blackness and Indigeneity in Australia’ provided important interventions to these broader debates in decolonial thought and practice…

…Opening the symposium, Irene Watson made central to her keynote ‘Thinking Relationally about Race, Blackness and Indigeneity in Australia’ this linkage between the State and survival. The survival of the Australian State requires that Indigenous people do not survive; thus it has always required genocide; it has always demanded the erasure of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies, voices and experiences. The non-survival (the genocide) of Indigenous people is the only way the State survives. As Nikki Moodie would later assert in her paper ‘Decolonizing Race Theory: Place, Survivance & Sovereignity’, echoing Patrick Wolfe, the Settler-Colonial State as such can only function through a logic of elimination. The State’s white, colonial-modern and neoliberal logic of capital, property, individualism and ownership cannot make space for Indigenous peoples nor Indigenous ways of being; neither in the sense of relation to land nor of relation to each-other. As Irene Watson reminded us, despite the State’s professions to the contrary, there has been no decolonisation of Australia; not least because the ‘hierarchy of voice’ established by colonialism remains; thus the violent silencing and erasure of Indigenous peoples – and their calls for self-determination – also remains. Indeed, both the idea and formation of ‘the State’ is founded upon the structure of hierarchical leadership and, thus, the principle of the differentiated right to voice. For Angela Davis too (in the aforementioned panel discussion with Gayatri Spivak) the masculinist and individualist nature of leadership as epitomised in the workings of the State is a central obstacle to a politics of collectively, relationality and justice…

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