AIA Evening Lecture: An Overlooked Chapter in the History of Egyptology: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey & Pauline Hopkins

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, United States on 2017-02-12 20:57Z by Steven

AIA Evening Lecture: An Overlooked Chapter in the History of Egyptology: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey & Pauline Hopkins

Penn Museum
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
Thursday, 2017-03-30, 18:00-19:00 EDT (Local Time)

Vanessa Davies, Visiting Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, speaks at this Archaeological Institute of America Philadelphia Society lecture. Three prominent black writers of the early 20th century—W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Pauline Hopkins—incorporated ancient Egyptian culture into their writings. Attacking a common theory of their day, DuBois and Garvey used ancient Egyptian culture to argue for the humanity of black people, marshaling evidence of Egypt’s glorious past to inspire black people in the Americas with feelings of hope and self-worth. They also engaged with the contemporary work of prominent archaeologists, a fact lost in most histories of Egyptology. Hopkins’ novel Of One Blood places the reality of the racial discrimination and the racial “passing” of her day against the backdrop of ancient Egypt. Like Du Bois, she advocates for the education of black Americans, and like Garvey, she constructs an African safe haven for her novel’s protagonist. Understanding these three writers’ treatments of ancient Egypt, Davies argues, provides a richer perspective on the history of the discipline of Egyptology. Reception with opportunity to meet the speaker follows.

For more information, click here.

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A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, South Africa, United Kingdom on 2017-02-11 19:57Z by Steven

A True Story of Love, Race and Royalty Gets Crammed Into A United Kingdom

LA Weekly
2017-02-06

April Wolfe, Lead Film Critic


Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

In director Amma Asante’s epic political romance A United Kingdom, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star as Seretse and Ruth Khama, the interracial royal couple who stunned the world when they fought to rule the country that would become the Republic of Botswana. The story’s a wildly interesting history lesson on African poverty, the rise of apartheid in the late 1940s and Britain’s passive role in separating Botswana’s blacks from whites. But here all that complexity plays more Disney than drama, with a script from Guy Hibbert (Eye in the Sky) that turns love into a montage and politics into a trite cartoon of good vs. evil.

The couple lindy-hops through courtship and right into an engagement in the early scenes, which are set to an American jazz soundtrack. They first lock eyes at a dance in London, where he’s a law student and she’s an office worker. In real life, the two met secretly for a year before Seretse even got the nerve to ask, “Do you think you could love me?” But the script ramming right through the early romance and into the marriage leaves so many open questions about the characters’ love; as portrayed in the film, they barely know one another when Ruth decides she’s going to move to Africa to be Seretse’s queen.

Against the wishes of their families — and the British and South African governments — Seretse and Ruth marry and travel to Bechuanaland so that he can ascend the throne and use his education to help his people. Soon after their arrival comes one of the film’s most poignant moments: Seretse’s aunt Ella (Abena Ayivor), who’s the current queen, drills right into the thin white woman before her to ask if Ruth knows what it would mean to be a mother to the nation and its predominantly black citizens. Ella has a good point: At a time when white people are swarming into Bechuanaland to turn black citizens into servants, how good an idea is a white queen? Later, Ruth sits in her room, practicing British queen skills such as waving and smiling, while the tribe’s women break their backs outside to get food to their families. But A United Kingdom doesn’t fully explore this cultural distance; the film’s structure requires that Ruth be quickly accepted into the tribe, so the story can move on to Britain’s treachery…

Read the entire article here.

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Trevor Noah, Colorism and The Unexpected Role He Plays In Expanding the Divide

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2017-02-11 03:27Z by Steven

Trevor Noah, Colorism and The Unexpected Role He Plays In Expanding the Divide

Atlanta Black Star
2017-02-05

Jared Ball, Associate Professor of Communication Studies
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

“He’s out to neutralize, not to awaken.” – Willa Paskin

The leadership of our School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University has encouraged that professors like myself find ways this semester to incorporate into our work the new book Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Noah is the South African-born, biracial, Colored comedian and host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Copies have been distributed to students and faculty alike and I anticipate there being a flurry of engagement for courses in media studies as Noah’s book has plenty to offer.

Immediately we can start with critiques of false balance and Western politicized notions of objectivity, both of which were in play during Noah’s recent extended exchange with the aggressive right wing commentator Tomi Lahren. Many know of Noah’s nightly television work and it appears many more know him now after the straw woman performed her role in enhancing Noah’s credibility and right in time to coincide nicely with his book’s launch. What liberal aspirant to the throne of legitimacy wouldn’t want her as an interlocutor? Even in the silly film Pop Star Conner Friel (Andy Samberg) made sure his entourage consisted of a “perspective adjuster” whose sole function was to make the star look better by comparison. Muhammad Ali’s legend wasn’t born by his fights with Henry Cooper and Brian London. It were the fights with Liston, Frazier, Foreman and the federal government that told us he was the greatest.

We can also as a class ask, what is happening semiotically with the book’s cover? It read to me from the first like the perfect symbolic display of Noah’s entire political function as celebrity.  Noah’s beige face, askew, askance even – especially – with that grin, hand touching his head, painted on a tattered township wall, imposing, top-down upon a faceless Black African woman, almost saying, in an aloof, twisted version of the Old Spice commercial, “aww-shucks, look at me. Now look at you. Now look at me again. Now look at you. And back to me. I’ve made it and you can to? Never mind that. Look at me!” Its reminiscent of any billboard falsely advertising an exclusive lifestyle of which most onlookers can only dream…

Read the entire article here.

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Auschwitz to Rwanda: The link between science, colonialism and genocide

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2017-02-01 22:16Z by Steven

Auschwitz to Rwanda: The link between science, colonialism and genocide

Mail & Guardian Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
2017-02-01

Heike Becker


Sixty years later, the recurrent connections of science and genocide still demonstrate the dark underbelly of Western modernity in Africa, Europe, and the world. (Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly)

Significant links connect racial science in colonial southern Africa with the holocaust of the European Jews.

When the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz death camp on January 27 1945, among the prisoners left behind were a number of young twins. The surviving children and many more who had died were the subject of disturbing human experiments by Josef Mengele, a physician known as the “Angel of Death”.

About 3 000 twins were selected from an estimated 1.3-million people who arrived at Auschwitz for Mengele’s deadly “scientific” experiments. Only about 200 of them survived.

Mengele is significant for understanding the complicity of science with the mass atrocities of the 20th century. The elegant young doctor defied the stereotypical image of the Nazi brute. He was no crazy drunken beast with a whip. This was an ambitious researcher of human genetics, holding doctorates in anthropology and medicine.

Mengele worked in Auschwitz from May 1943. The death camp presented him with a “perfect” laboratory. It provided an unlimited supply of human specimens to study genetics, and he wouldn’t get into trouble if they died following lethal injections and other gruesome experiments.

Nazis and colonial ‘racial science’

The institute’s first director in 1927 was the well-known physical anthropologist Eugen Fischer. Fischer was a prolific researcher who had earned his scientific merits in genetics and racial science in the then German colony of German South West Africa (today’s Namibia).

His 1908 field study, published in 1913, focused on the effects of racial mixing (“miscegenation”), applying the genetic theory of Gregor Mendel. Fischer examined 310 children of the “Basters” of Rehoboth, a community of “mixed-race” people living to the South of Windhoek in Namibia.

The Rehobother offspring of Nama women and white men were observed and subjected to physical measurements. Based on these “scientific” methods, Fischer classified the mixed-race population.

His verdict that African blood imparted impurity resulted in the prohibition of mixed-race marriages in all German colonies by 1912. In Namibia interracial marriage was already prohibited in 1905.

German colonialism ended after World War I. This, however, was not the end of racial science. Incubated in the colonial laboratories of southern Africa, it was brought back and applied in “civilised” central Europe. Fischer first followed up his “bastard studies” in the 1920s and early 1930s with the “Rhineland bastards”, children born to German mothers and fathers from the French African colonies. Few black Germans perished during the Nazi era. But, many were forcibly sterilised.

The story of the KWI-A demonstrates how several significant dimensions connect 20th century racial science, colonialism and genocide…

Read the entire article here.

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President with a torpedo in his crotch: how the works of Lubaina Himid speak to Trump times

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-19 00:07Z by Steven

President with a torpedo in his crotch: how the works of Lubaina Himid speak to Trump times

The Guardian
2017-01-17

Hettie Judah


Lubaina Himid among the cutouts of slaves that form her 2004 piece Naming the Money, at Spike Island contemporary art centre in Bristol. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt for the Guardian

Born in Zanzibar and raised in Britain, Lubaina Himid makes work about everything from slavery to Thatcher to the cotton trade. Now in her 60s, she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves

Lubaina Himid was just four months old when her father died. It was 1954 and her Blackpool-born mother decided to leave their home in Zanzibar and head back to Britain, where she brought her daughter up as a Londoner. Himid would not return to the place of her birth for 43 years…

Read the entire article here.

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Shaken Out of Time: Black Bodies and Movement in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-18 21:30Z by Steven

Shaken Out of Time: Black Bodies and Movement in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time

Virginia Quarterly Review
Volume 93, Number 1, Winter 2017
pages 196-199

Kaitlyn Greenidge
Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont

Swing Time By Zadie Smith, Penguin, 2016, 464p. HB, $27.

Midway through Zadie Smith’s new novel, Swing Time, the unnamed narrator watches two girls walk “hand in hand” down a dusty road in an anonymous, fictionalized African country. “They looked like best friends,” she notes—that “looked” suggesting the mysteries of friendship that the novel has been dedicated to up until that point. “They were out at the edge of the world, or of the world I knew, and watching them, I realized it was…almost impossible for me to imagine what time felt like for them, out here.” The girls inevitably remind the narrator of her own lost, best friend, Tracey, who angrily haunts the novel, forever resisting the narrator’s attempts to regulate her to incorporeality. Of their friendship, she notes, “We thought we were products of a particular moment, because as well as our old musicals, we liked things like Ghostbusters and Dallas. We felt we had our place in time. What person on earth doesn’t feel this way?” But the narrator is unable to place the two girls before her in any time. “When I waved at those two girls…I couldn’t rid myself of the idea that they were timeless symbols of girlhood…I knew it couldn’t possibly be the case but I had no other way of thinking of them.”

In an interview in T: The New York Times Style Magazine this past fall, Smith noted, “It just seemed to me that what was done to black people, historically, was to take them out of the time of their life. That’s what fundamentally happened. We had a life in one place and it would have continued and who knows what would have happened—nobody knows. But it would’ve gone a certain way, and we were removed from that timeline, placed somewhere entirely different, and radically disrupted. And the consequences of that are pretty much unending. Every people have their trauma. It’s not a competition of traumas. But they’re different in nature. And this one is about having been removed from time.” Swing Time is a novel that is fundamentally concerned with this question. What do we do, how do we respond, when we are violently shaken out of time, when we lose the thread of our own lives, when we are so certain of the narrative of our life and then are suddenly, jarringly, shaken loose? How do we reconcile, what are the lies and myths we tell ourselves, to try and reclaim our time? And when do those lies hurt us and when do they help us find our footing again?

When we meet the narrator of Swing Time, she is deep in the midst of mysterious disgrace, briefly infamous worldwide for a perceived wrong she’s committed against a Madonna-like global superstar who goes by the single name of Aimee. The narrator is Aimee’s assistant: She has worked tirelessly for the past decade helping Aimee, a white woman, set up a school for girls in that unidentified African country. Aimee is a woman who has created her own myth for herself, using sex and youth and pop music to forge a destiny that would not have been available to any woman a generation before her. The narrator meets her by chance, devotes her life to her, and finds herself unmarried and childless, a cog in the superstar celebrity machine of Aimee’s life. But it becomes clear, even though the narrator has spent her adult life serving Aimee, it’s not the pop star who holds her attention. Instead, she exists in a kind of suspended dream state, reliving her brief friendship with Tracey, the only other mixed-race girl in the narrator’s neighborhood in the early 1980s. The narrator’s parents are genteelly poor, and her mother, in particular, is ambitious: She reads postcolonial theory and takes courses on Marxism, ruthlessly forging her identity as a poor, black woman in Britain into a professional activist and self-conscious, self…

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Meet the Afro-Mexicans connecting to their African roots through dance

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2017-01-16 00:11Z by Steven

Meet the Afro-Mexicans connecting to their African roots through dance

Ventures Africa
2017-01-05

Iroegbu Chinaemerem Oti

“Based on your culture, history, and traditions, do you consider yourself Black, meaning Afro-Mexican or Afro-descendant?” – MEXICO’S 2015 Intercensal Survey

The sound of Bata drums filled the air as girls, with printed scarfs tied around their waists and white or yellow dots painted on their faces, danced to the fervent rhythm, their feet and waists moving vigorously at the same time. As their left legs leave the floor, their right legs replace them, while their waists responding with a seesaw movement. This is an African dance performed by an Afro-Mexican group, the Obatala, for the purpose of connecting with their African roots. They live in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico and tour various regions of the state to create awareness with their energetic and beautiful dance.

“All the dances are from Africa’s northeastern region, we chose this area because after researching on the internet, we realised that that’s where the slaves that came from our town came from. Our dance troupe did the research and we learned those dances,” Anai Herrera, one of the lead dancers, said…

Read the entire article here.

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Race, Identity and the Making of Hashim Amla

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, South Africa on 2017-01-13 02:15Z by Steven

Race, Identity and the Making of Hashim Amla

Africa Is A Country
2013-07-20

Niren Tolsi

Hashim Amla has arrived. His back-lift to gully now appears the sort of lazy flourish that bored twelve-year-olds develop because they are staggeringly superior to their opposition, rather than the defect that presumed he wouldn’t cut it at international level early on in his career. That twirl of a back-lift is now brought down to defend, flick, drive and reduce Test bowlers into looking like schoolboys. He is silky and elegant in a manner that compelled Richie Benaud, the former Australian captain–and one of the most knowledgeable, and least myopic, of that country’s commentators–-to describe him as “an artist in a team of artisans” during a solid first tour Down Under in 2008.

At the time of writing (after the Wanderers Test match against Pakistan in early February) he was the International Cricket Council’s world number one ranked Test batsman. En-route to overtaking Australian captain Michael Clarke to assume that apex he had struck an unbeaten 311 against England at The Oval–becoming the first South African to score a triple-ton and the 22nd person in the history of Test cricket to do so.

His batting is eye-catching. As is the shaggy square beard that marks him out as a devout Muslim in a team that has traditionally traded on what Jesus would do, Castle Lager, jock-of-the-establishment-school-tie posturing and a gritty approach to the game that melded the conservative, dour and tragic elements that reside inside the Afrikaner and the Rooi-neck. If Jacques Kallis, the darling of the South African (white) cricketing media corps, represents the establishment with his hair implants, demeanor as wooden as his “big bat” and tweets calling for the return of the death penalty, then Amla, all leg-side flicks as luxurious as his beard, imperious punches off the back-foot and mere physical manifestation represents its anathema–almost. In the chaotic, overlapping and contradictory world of South African identity politics even that would be too reductionist. Too simple…

Read the entire article here.

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The World of Zadie Smith: Mixed-Race People and Polychromatic Dreams

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-12 03:42Z by Steven

The World of Zadie Smith: Mixed-Race People and Polychromatic Dreams

The Wire
2017-01-11

Radhika Oberoi

Swing Time like its predecessors is intensely curious about race, but it is also curious about so much more than race, such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ali Baba Goes to Town and Michael Jackson.

Cool Britannia, slickly marketed by Tony Blair’s Labour government, was hardly a monochromatic one. The London of Alexander McQueen, Oasis, Blur, Damien Hurst and the Spice Girls was a pastiche of the preceding Conservative regimes and a variegated motif of multiculturalism. White Teeth, that rollicking sketch of the post-colonial migrant experience, that comical world of inter-locking narratives – a genre that James Wood compellingly defined as ‘hysterical realism’ – landed amidst the boisterous icons of Cool Britannia in 2000, announcing the arrival of Zadie Smith – young, black, British, freckled, high cheek-boned.

White Teeth, an ostensibly hilarious examination of the vagaries of racially mixed friendships, is perhaps the loudest testimony to what Smith does best – bring the Joneses, the Iqbals and the Chalfens together in the hybrid topography of Willesden in north-west London. The book is, as described by Smith herself, in an interview, “…a kind of mishmash, as first novels tend to be”. Swing Time, Smith’s newest fiction, published in November 2016, is an evocation of that very universe – a hotchpotch of people and places, a medley of sights and sounds and smells. It is also a deeper and somewhat quieter rumination on race…

Read the entire review here.

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How a mixed-race love affair between an African prince and an Englishwoman caused an international furore

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-12-16 21:28Z by Steven

How a mixed-race love affair between an African prince and an Englishwoman caused an international furore

The Daily Telegraph
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
2016-12-16

Marea Donnelly, History writer


Ruth Williams and her husband Prince Seretse Khama in London in 1949.

ONE can only surmise as to whether bank clerk Ruth Williams and her Bechuanaland prince Seretse Khama ever shuffled around the dance floor to The Ink Spots’ hit Prisoner Of Love. United in their affection for the harmonising American doo-wop band, within a year of their meeting at a post-war London dance hall the Ink Spots’ 1946 hit could have been their anthem.

Their black-white romance offended not only their families, but the British and South African governments and the Church of England, which all aggressively opposed their 1948 marriage. Already the subject of a book A Marriage Of Inconvenience, and a film of the same name released in 1990, a new British film about the Khama marriage, A United Kingdom, opens in Sydney on Boxing Day

Read the entire article here.

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