Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Passing, Women on 2018-05-22 02:17Z by Steven

Black-Asian Counterintimacies: Reading Sui Sin Far in Jamaica

J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2018
pages 197-204
DOI: 10.1353/jnc.2018.0015

Christine “Xine” Yao, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of English
University of British Columbia

In “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian,” Edith Maude Eaton, writing as Sui Sin Far, reflects on her time in Jamaica as a white-passing mixed-race woman.1 Rumor of her Chinese ancestry provokes a white English naval officer to seek her out for sexual favors, a scenario still all too familiar to women, particularly women of color, today: a predatory conversation sheathed in friendly euphemisms. At first Far believes his visit has to do with her work as a journalist, but his repeated “silly and offensive laugh” suggests otherwise.2 When she attempts to dismiss him, he laughs again, “There’s always plenty of time for good times. That’s what I am here for.”3 After commenting on her “nice little body,” he invites her to sail with him where “I will tell you all about the sweet little Chinese girls I met when we were at Hong Kong. They’re not so shy!”4 The officer’s framing of her presumed affective and sexual availability, and the foregrounding of his own sexual and social prerogative, are an everyday life manifestation of what Lisa Lowe names a “‘political economy’ of intimacy … a particular calculus governing the production, distribution, and possession of intimacy” predicated on empire and settler colonialism.5 The man’s proposition to Far is a demand for her friendliness because those other Chinese girls in Hong Kong are “not so shy.” In her rejection of his desire for intimacy, she risks the dangerous backlash that attends injured white masculinity along with broader social consequences that could impact the relative privilege of her personal and professional life in the Caribbean. Still, instead of a “friendly” relationship to whiteness, Sui Sin Far seeks alternative intimacies. In the same section of her memoir she juxtaposes this incident with musings about her position as a white-passing mixed-race Chinese woman in relation to her observations about antiblackness in the West Indies. Despite the warnings of the English who tell her to fear the “‘brown boys’ of the island,” the writer considered the mother of Asian North American literature affirms a sense of transnational solidarity between peoples of color in her affective racial identifications. “I too am of the ‘brown people’ of the earth,” she confides to her readers, prefiguring, in this assertion, the anti-colonial alliance between African and Asian nations that would be formalized in 1955 at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia.6

Intimacy operates, here, as a heuristic for understanding how the racialized and gendered pressures of domesticity, sentimentality, and sexuality are imbricated with the projects of empire. These exploitative relations undergird the transnational violences of settler colonialism, slavery, and indentured servitude—systems which, as Lowe argues, enable the liberal fictions of white Western individuals, who are able to claim intimacy as one of the privileges associated with the private sphere, as a property of their citizenship in modern civil society. In the shift from the late nineteenth-century threatening “Yellow Peril” to modern-day deserving “model minority,” Asian Americans, particularly those of East Asian descent, are lured by false promises of inclusion into this liberal fiction on the basis of intimate affiliation with whiteness. Among the processes of comparative racialization that emerge from transnational intimacies, Ellen Wu traces how Asian Americans were complicit in the anti-black creation of the “model minority” category in the American cultural imaginary.7 Nonetheless, the solidarity work of activists like Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama, along with studies of earlier black-Asian cultural and political engagements by scholars like Edlie Wong and Julia H. Lee, indicates an alternative genealogy of counterintimacies that disrupts those aligned with the afterlife of imperial exploitation.8 In defiance of the coercive pressures made manifest through sexual violence and emotional labor, the mixed-race Asian and black women of Sui Sin Far’s fiction and nonfiction writings reorient these indices of transnational power relations away from their focus on whiteness and toward the possibility of resistance through affective connections that center peoples of color.

In Far’s rediscovered Jamaican stories and journalism…

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Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2018-05-21 15:13Z by Steven

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Stanford University Press
August 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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Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Posted in Books, Canada, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2018-05-20 00:36Z by Steven

Soma Text: Living, Writing, and Staging Racial Hybridity

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
June 2019
295 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-77112-240-5

Michelle La Flamme, Professor of English
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Canada’s history is bicultural, Indigenous, and multilingual, and these characteristics have given risen to a number of strategies used by our writers to code racially mixed characters. This book examines contemporary Canadian literature and drama in order to tease out some of those strategies and the social and cultural factors that inform them.

Racially hybrid characters in literature have served a matrix of needs. They are used as shorthand for interracial desire, signifiers of taboo love, images of impurity, symbols of degeneration, and examples of beauty and genetic perfection. Their fates have been used to suggest the futility of marrying across racial lines, or the revelation of their “one drop” signals a climactic downfall. Other narratives suggest mixed-race bodies are foundational to colonization and signify contact between colonial and Indigenous bodies.

Author Michelle LaFlamme approaches racial hybridity with a cross-generic and cross-racial approach, unusual in the field of hybridity studies, by analyzing characters with different racial mixes in autobiographies, fiction, and drama. Her analysis privileges literary texts and the voices of artists rather than sociological explanations of the mixed-race experience. The book suggests that the hyper-visualization of mixed-race bodies in mono-racial contexts creates a scopophilic interest in how those bodies look and perform race.

La Flamme’s term “soma text” draws attention to the constructed, performative aspects of this form of embodiment. The writers she examines witness that living in a racially hybrid and ambiguous body is a complex engagement that involves reading and decoding the body in sophisticated ways, involving both the multiracial body and the racialized gaze of the onlooker.

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Ijeoma Oluo and Rebecca Carroll on Race and Representation in Journalism

Posted in Audio, Communications/Media Studies, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Justice on 2018-05-18 19:26Z by Steven

Ijeoma Oluo and Rebecca Carroll on Race and Representation in Journalism

Midday on WNYC
WNYC
New York, New York
2018-05-03

Duarte Geraldino, Guest Host

Ijeoma Oluo and Rebecca Carroll discuss the ethics of representation in Sally Kohn’s book, The Opposite of Hate: A Field Guide to Repairing Our Humanity. Oluo and Aminatou Sow take issue with how they were quoted in Kohn’s book, which sets up what they say is an inaccurate dichotomy between their positions. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair about the controversy, Oluo said the real focus should be that “we need to talk about the work that people of privilege should be doing, not how many more ways we can harm ourselves so that our humanity will be seen.”


(L to R) Call Your Girlfriend’s Aminatou Sow, WNYC’s Rebecca Carroll, Nancy’s Kathy Tu, and Ear Hustle’s Nigel Poor speaking at the 2017 Werk It Festival.
(Gina Clyne Photography )

Listen to the discussion here.

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The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés: Decolonialism, Class, Gender, Race

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Philosophy, United States on 2018-05-13 15:45Z by Steven

The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés: Decolonialism, Class, Gender, Race

Rowman & Littlefield
June 2018
160 pages
Trim: 6 x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78660-615-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78660-616-7

Daphne V. Taylor-Garcia, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of California, San Diego

The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés is an interdisciplinary and intersectional study of the mixed-race subject in the Americas and the rise of oppositional consciousness with a consideration of not only race, but also colonialism. Daphne V. Taylor-Garcia examines the construction of race, gender, and class in coming to an oppositional consciousness as a Spanish colonial subject in the Americas. Spanning the early foundations of knowledge production about colonial/racial subjects and connecting to contemporary debates on Latinxs and racialization, the book takes up the terms through which first-person perceptions of precarity and class, mixed-race existence, and gendered power relations are constructed. The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés ends with a response to the current scepticism towards organizing as people of color through a decolonial redefinition of the damnés that centers a critique of anti-black racism and colonial relations.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Spatiality of the Damnés
  • 2. Visible Race and the Legacy of the Sistema de Castas
  • 3. The Semiotics of Gender in Colonial/Renaissance Knowledge Production
  • 4. Taking Action as the Damnés
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Mulata Nation: Visualizing Race and Gender in Cuba

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Women on 2018-05-11 15:38Z 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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The Myth of Brazil’s Racial Democracy

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2018-05-02 15:46Z by Steven

The Myth of Brazil’s Racial Democracy

aperture
2018-04-18

Amelia Rina
Brooklyn, New York


Jonathas de Andrade, Eu, mestiço, 2017–18
Courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York

In a new exhibition, Jonathas de Andrade confronts his country’s complicated past and present.

Brazil is renowned in the world for its racial democracy,” begins anthropologist Charles Wagley in the 1952 study Race and Class in Rural Brazil. Produced by Columbia University and UNESCO, the text describes ethnographic studies performed by Wagley and his colleagues in four regions of Brazil. In each region, men and women from what they determined to be the four major racial groups—caboclo (indigenous and Afro-Brazilian), preto (Afro-Brazilian), mulato (Afro-Brazilian and white European), and branco (white European)—were shown photographs of other Brazilians from these categories and then asked to assign them different traits, such as most/least attractive, best/worst worker, most/least honest, most/least wealthy, et cetera. This binary restriction was one of the study’s major flaws that first intrigued Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade, and inspired his recent project, Eu, mestiço, currently on view at Alexander and Bonin

Read the entire review here.

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The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives

Posted in Dissertations, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-04-30 00:40Z by Steven

The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
2011
217 pages

Amanda M. Page

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

In “The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives,” I examine a subset of racial passing narratives written between 1890 and 1930 by African American activist-authors, some directly affiliated with the NAACP, who use the form to challenge racial hierarchies through the figure of the mulatta/o and his or her interactions with other racial and ethnic groups. I position texts by Frances E.W. Harper, James Weldon Johnson, and Walter White in dialogue with racial classification laws of the period—including Supreme Court decisions, such as Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), and immigration law, such as the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924—to show how these rulings and laws were designed to consolidate white identity while preventing coalition-building among African Americans and other subordinate groups.

In contrast to white-authored passing narratives of the time, I argue that these early African American passing narratives frequently gesture toward interracial solidarity with Native American, European immigrant, Latina/o, or Asian American characters as a means of
challenging white supremacy. Yet, these authors often sacrifice the potential for antiracist coalitions because of the limitations inherent in working within the dominant racial and nativist discourses. For example, in Iola Leroy (1892), Harper, despite her racially progressive intentions, strategically deploys white nativist discourse against Native Americans to demonstrate the “Americanness” of her mulatta heroine and demand recognition of African American assimilation. Though later African American passing narratives, such as Johnson‘s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) and White‘s Flight (1926), began to reflect a collaborative global approach to civil rights as the century progressed, these strategies of domestic antagonism and/or international solidarity with groups outside of the black-white binary ultimately worked in service to a specifically African American civil rights agenda.

This study concludes with an examination of a contemporary passing narrative by an Asian American author. Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son (2001) revises the form to challenge the continued marginalization of Latina/os and Asian Americans and thus suggests the need for a reconsideration of how we approach civil rights activism to accommodate new racial dynamics in the post-civil rights era.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Redrawing the Historical Past: History, Memory, and Multiethnic Graphic Novels

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-27 01:53Z by Steven

Redrawing the Historical Past: History, Memory, and Multiethnic Graphic Novels

University of Georgia Press
2018-04-01
368 pages
79 b&w images
Trim size: 6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8203-5201-5
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8203-5200-8

Edited by:

Martha J. Cutter, Professor of English and Africana Studies
University of Connecticut

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Professor of English and Asian American Studies
University of Connecticut

An innovative collection that explores how multiethnic graphic novels investigate and remake U.S. history

Redrawing the Historical Past examines how multiethnic graphic novels portray and revise U.S. history. This is the first collection to focus exclusively on the interplay of history and memory in multiethnic graphic novels. Such interplay enables a new understanding of the past. The twelve essays explore Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Incognegro, Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints, GB Tran’s Vietnamerica, Scott McCloud’s The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln, Art Spiegelman’s post-Maus work, and G. Neri and Randy DuBurke’s Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, among many others.

The collection represents an original body of criticism about recently published works that have received scant scholarly attention. The chapters confront issues of history and memory in contemporary multiethnic graphic novels, employing diverse methodologies and approaches while adhering to three main guidelines. First, using a global lens, contributors reconsider the concept of history and how it is manifest in their chosen texts. Second, contributors consider the ways in which graphic novels, as a distinct genre, can formally renovate or intervene in notions of the historical past. Third, contributors take seriously the possibilities and limitations of these historical revisions with regard to envisioning new, different, or even more positive versions of both the present and future. As a whole, the volume demonstrates that graphic novelists use the open and flexible space of the graphic narrative page—in which readers can move not only forward but also backward, upward, downward, and in several other directions—to present history as an open realm of struggle that is continually being revised.

Contributors: Frederick Luis Aldama, Julie Buckner Armstrong, Katharine Capshaw, Monica Chiu, Jennifer Glaser, Taylor Hagood, Caroline Kyungah Hong, Angela Lafien, Catherine H. Nguyen, Jeffrey Santa Ana, and Jorge Santos.

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Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2018-04-24 13:49Z by Steven

Writing in Fire: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Ph.D.
2017-06-28

Yomaira C. Figueroa, Assistant Professor of Global Diaspora Studies
Michigan State University

Michelle Cliff (Nov. 2, 1942-June 12, 2016) was an award-winning Jamaican novelist, essayist, critic, poet, scholar, and teacher. An influential author in Caribbean, feminist, and lesbian writings, some of her notable works include: Abeng, No Telephone to Heaven, Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise, Free Enterprise, If I Could Write This In Fire, and The Land of Look Behind. Cliff’s work reflected many parts of her identity, contemporary sociopolitical concerns stemming from colonialism, and a critical investment in the Caribbean and her diasporas. Her works examine the complexities of identity politics, lesbianism, colorism, colonialism/post-colonialism and revolution – both of the personal variety and the political. On June 22, 2017, we gathered at the Caribbean Philosophical Association Annual Meeting in NYC to honor her life and writing. This post includes the work of the roundtable participants. The roundtable, titled “‘Writing in Fire’: Honoring the Life & Legacy of Michelle Cliff” marked the second year that the Chair of Afro-Diasporic Literatures (me) and the Chair of the Initiative on Gender, Race, and Feminisms (Xhercis Mendez) joined together to propose roundtables to honor Caribbean women writers at the CPA (at the 2016 we celebrated the 10th/11th publication anniversary of M. Jacqui Alexander’s Pedagogies of Crossing). This year two Ph.D. students – Keishla Rivera (Rutgers Newark) and Briona Jones (Michigan State) – joined moderator Xhercis Mendez and I to reflect on the rich inheritance Michelle Cliff has left us. Below are excerpts from the reflections which engendered a powerful and generative dialogue across several topics, fields, and interests…

Read the entire article here.

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