“Blood is Thicker than Water”: The Materialization of the Racial Body in Fascist East Africa

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive on 2018-06-21 16:20Z by Steven

“Blood is Thicker than Water”: The Materialization of the Racial Body in Fascist East Africa

Zapruder World: An International Journal for the History of Social Conflict
“Performing Race,” Volume 4 (2017)

Angelica Pesarini, Social and Cultural Analysis, Faculty Member
New York University

Introduction

One of the major issues with the perception of “race” in modern Italy refers to what Alessandro Portelli defines as Italians’ “self-reflexive colour blindness.”1 What occurs in Italy is not simply a denial of race. Rather than seeing themselves as “White,” according to Portelli, Italians see themselves as “normal.” As a result, because colour is unspoken and not openly mentioned, it is believed that Italians are immune from racism. Such a structural colour-blindness, however, is problematic because it associates Whiteness with normality and, consequently, with Italianness.2 Simply put, to be Italian is to be White. Within this discourse, those who do not fit the alleged (White) Italian type are deemed outside the Nation on a number of levels.3

In order to understand and unpack such dynamics it is necessary to consider the category of “race” and the influence this had on the construction of Italian national identity. If “race” is a social construct devoid of scientific validity, it still retains enormous power in the modern world. In the case of Italy, the racial construction of national identity shows a complex ambivalence embedded in discursive practices revolving around an ambiguous production of both Whiteness and Blackness. Such an ambiguity, as highlighted by Tatiana Petrovich Njegosh stems from Italians’ liminal double racial status as racialisers (of Jews, southerner Italians and Africans) and racialised subjects in the U.S. and Australia.4 As a result, “race” in Italy today seems to be located within the interstices of a polarised discourse based on notions of “unspoken Whiteness”5 able to visually recognise “Italians” from “Others,” namely those called stranieri (foreigners), extracomunitari (a term used to define migrants coming from outside the EU) and the new “migranti” category (broadly used to address African migrants crossing the Mediterranean). Although colour is not openly named, meaningful biological connotations based on phenotypic features located on the body are at the core of Italian national identity. It is important to notice that such a disjunction does not work merely at a visual level. The racialisation of national identity, in fact, transversally affects Italian society and the everyday life of racialised subjects extending from education to housing, labour rights, work opportunities, political participation, health, personal safety, and legal discourse too, as discussed in this paper.

Drawing on ideas of performativity as applied to race, this essay illustrates some of the reasons why in contemporary Italy the idea of Blackness associated with Italianness still appears, to some, an impossible semantic match, an irreconcilable paradox. Owing to the interdependence of colonialism, ideas of “race” and “mixed race,” and the normative construction of Whiteness in relation to national identity, it seems necessary to investigate the nexus of race, gender and citizenship, through a performative lens. In order to do so, I focus on a series of laws and decrees passed during the Liberal and Fascist periods. These include the Codice Civile per la Colonia Eritrea (Colonial Civil Code for the Colony of Eritrea) of 1909, Law 999 of 1933, introduced to regulate the legal identity of “mixed race” children born in the former Italian colonies in East-Africa, and the racial laws enacted between 1937 and 1940. The investigation of these pieces of legislation is useful to highlight not only the influence that Liberal norms had on the promulgations of Fascist racial laws, but also how Italian citizenship, today, is still rooted in the idea of an alleged “racial citizen.”…

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Carina Ray fuses scholarship and teaching with personal experience

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, United States on 2018-06-14 18:17Z by Steven

Carina Ray fuses scholarship and teaching with personal experience

Brandeis Now
Waltham, Massachusetts
2017-12-17

Jarret Bencks
Office of Communications

Carina Ray
Carina Ray in the classroom

Almost 25 years ago, historian Carina Ray spent her junior year abroad as an undergraduate studying in Ghana. She planned to explore her Puerto Rican family’s African roots.

Most Ghanaians she met insisted she was white, despite her longwinded explanations about her multiracial background. Eventually, she realized it would be smarter to talk less and listen more.

“I was enthralled by what Ghanaians had to say about their own perceptions of blackness and how race works there,” says Ray, associate professor of African and Afro-American studies (AAAS). The seeds of Ray’s career were planted.

By the time she returned to the University of California, Santa Cruz, to finish her bachelor’s degree, Ray knew she wanted to study what it means to be black in West Africa — from an African perspective. The history of race in Africa was rarely written about from an African perspective, and it became the focus of her PhD in African history at Cornell University…

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Voice Business presents Wirework

Posted in Africa, Arts, Forthcoming Media, South Africa, United Kingdom on 2018-06-14 00:26Z by Steven

Voice Business presents Wirework

Tristan Bates Theatre
1A Tower St, Covent Garden
London, United Kingdom WC2H 9NP
Tuesday, 2018-07-03 through Saturday, 2018-07-07, 19:30 (Thurs & Sat Matinees 14:30)

A play about the unexpected relationship between Koos Malgas, a Cape Coloured shepherd and Helen Martins, a one-time actor and teacher, in the creation of the Owl House – an extraordinary environmental piece full of animated sculptures and pulsating light montages.

Set in the isolated landscape of the South African Karoo and inspired by images from pictures and postcards, their world becomes dominated by form and colour. In her struggle to find the ‘light’, Helen looks towards Mecca as Koos faces the reality of apartheid prejudice and survival.

BRITISH PREMIERE, first performed in South Africa, 2009

Supported by Arts Council England

CAST
Helen Elaine Wallace
Koos Kurt Kansley

CREATIVE
Director Jessica Higgs
Scenographer Declan Randall

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Small Country

Posted in Africa, Books, Media Archive, New Media, Novels on 2018-06-07 20:05Z by Steven

Small Country

Hogarth (an imprint of Penguin Random House UK)
2018-06-07
92 Pages
144mm x 222mm x 21mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781784741594
eBook ISBN: 9781473547957

Gaël Faye, Sarah Ardizzone (Translator)

Burundi, 1992. For ten-year-old Gabriel, life in his comfortable expat neighbourhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother and little sister, Ana, is something close to paradise. These are happy, carefree days spent with his friends sneaking cigarettes and stealing mangoes, swimming in the river and riding bikes in the streets they have turned into their kingdom. But dark clouds are gathering over this small country, and soon their peaceful idyll will shatter when Burundi and neighbouring Rwanda are brutally hit by war and genocide.

A haunting and luminous novel of extraordinary power, Small Country describes a devastating end of innocence as seen through the eyes of a young child caught in the maelstrom of history. It is a stirring tribute not only to a time of tragedy, but also to the bright days that came before it.

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A French-Rwandan Rap Star Turned Novelist From Burundi

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive on 2018-05-30 02:31Z by Steven

A French-Rwandan Rap Star Turned Novelist From Burundi

The New York Times
2018-05-29

Tobias Grey


Small Country,” by Gaël Faye, is about a boy, living in Burundi during the war between the Hutus and Tutsis, who loses his innocence in spite of desperately wanting to cling onto it.
Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

PARIS — “It felt like an injustice to me,” said the rapper and novelist Gaël Faye, about having to leave civil-war-torn Burundi in 1995 to come live in France. Mr. Faye, who was 13 at the time, had to contend with the shock of a new culture and moving with his younger sister into the cramped space of his mother’s apartment in Versailles.

Months went by without unpacking his suitcases. “When I went to school I used to take what I needed and put it back afterward,” the 36-year-old author said in a recent interview in Paris. “I’d convinced myself that any day my father would ring up and tell us that the war had ended and we could come back. But the war ended up lasting until 2005 by which time I was an adult.”

In his first novel, “Small Country” — a huge hit in France when it was published in 2016 and where it sold 700,000 copies — Mr. Faye wrote with a rare and subtle yearning about his youthful escapades in and around Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. It has now been translated from French into English by Sarah Ardizzone and is being released by Hogarth on June 5.

“Small Country,” which in its original language shares the title of one of Mr. Faye’s most popular songs, “Petit Pays,” is told from the perspective of Gabriel, a 10-year-old boy with a French father and a Rwandan mother (the same mixed-race parentage as Mr. Faye). He is part of a gang of young boys sneaking beers in cabaret bars and stealing mangoes from local gardens to sell on the black market…

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My family had never seen a Kenyan: The Chinese making a new life in Africa

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Economics, Media Archive on 2018-05-10 17:12Z by Steven

My family had never seen a Kenyan: The Chinese making a new life in Africa

BBC News
2018-05-10

Rajeev Gupta
BBC World Service, Nairobi, Kenya


Xu Jing and Henry Rotich fell in love a decade ago

“We fell in love but it was very difficult at first,” Xu Jing explains from the courtyard of the Fairmont Hotel in Nairobi.

“My family didn’t know much about Africa at all. They hadn’t even seen a Kenyan before so they were very worried.”

Henry Rotich – the Kenyan in question – was just as concerned.

The pair had fallen for each other after Henry was sent to China to learn Mandarin as part of his government job.

It took him many weeks to get his language skills good enough to meet Jing’s father over a nerve-filled lunch, at which he asked for his blessing.

“Her father didn’t say much so I was really worried about what he was thinking, whether or not he even liked the food we were serving him,” Henry recalls.

Apparently his mastery of Mandarin was enough: a decade later, the couple are living in the Kenyan capital, proud parents to two children.

Jing now teaches Mandarin at the Confucius Institute based at the University of Nairobi, one of an estimated 10,000 Chinese nationals who have moved to the East African state.

Their family provides one snapshot of the growing links between Chinese and Kenyans – propelled somewhat by China’s massive investment in the country…

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Portugal confronts its slave trade past

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery on 2018-04-23 23:05Z by Steven

Portugal confronts its slave trade past

Politico
2018-02-06

Paul Ames


Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Goree Island in April 2017 Moussa Sow/AFP via Getty Images

Planned monument in Lisbon sparks debate over race and history.

LISBON — Over five centuries after it launched the Atlantic slave trade, Portugal is preparing to build a memorial to the millions of Africans its ships carried into bondage.

Citizens of Lisbon voted in December for the monument to be built on a quayside where slave ships once unloaded. Yet although the memorial has broad support, a divisive debate has ignited over how Portugal faces up to its colonial past and multiracial present.

“Doing this will be really good for our city,” said Beatriz Gomes Dias, president of Djass, an association of Afro-Portuguese citizens that launched the memorial plan.

“People really got behind the project, there was a recognition that something like this is needed,” said Gomes Dias. “Many people told us this is important to bring justice to Portugal’s history here in Lisbon, which is a cosmopolitan and diverse capital with such a strong African presence.”…

Country of tolerance

Few Portuguese miss their imperial regime. Four decades on, no political force clings to colonial nostalgia. Yet a belief lingers that Portuguese colonialism was gentler than other European empires, marked by a tolerant interaction with other peoples and widespread racial mixing.

That tolerance, the narrative goes, is reflected in today’s Portugal.

Unlike just about everywhere else in Europe, there’s no significant far-right party spouting xenophobic populism; during Europe’s refugee crisis, a parliamentary consensus backed doubling the country’s refugee quota; in 2015, Portugal quietly voted in António Costa, whose father was Indian, as prime minister…

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Building new selves: identity, “Passing,” and intertextuality in Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light

Posted in Africa, Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, South Africa on 2018-04-13 23:53Z by Steven

Building new selves: identity, “Passing,” and intertextuality in Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Light

Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies
Published online: 2018-04-03
DOI: 10.1080/17533171.2018.1453977

David Hoegberg, Associate Professor of English; Africana Studies
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

This article examines Zoë Wicomb’s wide-ranging use of intertextuality in the novel Playing in the Light to explore the links between identity construction and postcolonial authorship. Focusing on the characters as intertextual agents, I argue that the three coloured women on whom the novel focuses – Helen, Marion, and Brenda – use texts in distinctive ways that illuminate their struggles to position themselves in South Africa’s complex and changing racial landscape. Racial “passing” is one form of a larger pattern in the novel of the use of citation and imitation to achieve specific ends. By embedding the citations of Helen and Marion within the citation-rich narrative of Brenda, Wicomb lays bare the mechanisms of identity construction within a work that stages and highlights its own intertextual practices.

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Searching For A Motherland As A Black Latina

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-02 02:36Z by Steven

Searching For A Motherland As A Black Latina

The Huffington Post
2018-03-30

Maria V. Luna, Associate Lecturer
Goldsmiths University of London


Author Maria V. Luna in the Dominican Republic on her way to celebrate carnival in 2011.
Maria V. Luna

For Black Latinx in the U.S., bicultural, bilingual ― if they are lucky ― and born to immigrant parents, there is no motherland.

Though 25 percent of U.S. Latinos self-identify as Afro-Latino, we are not always made to feel at home in our own country. To be Latinx in the U.S. is to encounter xenophobic rhetoric from the top of our nation’s political leadership down to its base. To be black Latinx is to discover that xenophobia layered with anti-black rhetoric brews even among our own ethnic group.

Scholars Miriam Jiménez Román and the late Juan Flores consider W.E.B. Du Bois when describing the experience of the Afro-Latino in the U.S. as a triple consciousness — an awareness of being black, Latino and American. It is an elastic awareness, a way of moving in the world that has been woefully underexplored in America and in Spanish-language media and entertainment.

As an Afro-Latina, I often wondered: Where are my people? Where are those who crave mangú for breakfast, a Cuban sandwich for lunch and tres leches dessert? Where are those who love the “One Day at a Time” reboot with a Latin cast but winced when Lydia, played by Rita Moreno, repeats with conviction, “Cubans are white!” Didn’t abuela dance to Celia Cruz every morning as she made breakfast?

As soon as I could, I journeyed far from New Jersey to find my people. I looked for my kindred in the Dominican Republic, in Brazil, in Spain and in the maternal monolith I once imagined Africa to be.

I was looking for that mythical interstitial place where my blackness and Latinidad could peacefully coexist. This is what I found…

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Africanus Princeps? The Emperor Caracalla and the Question of His African Heritage

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2018-03-20 02:25Z by Steven

Africanus Princeps? The Emperor Caracalla and the Question of His African Heritage

Journal of Black Studies
First Published 2018-03-12
DOI: 10.1177/0021934718760219

Alex Imrie
University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This article responds to a recent publication in the Journal of Black Studies regarding the emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire between AD 211 and 217, following the murder of his younger brother, Geta. In addition to offering an exploration of his career, the recent essay attempts to investigate the importance of Caracalla’s African heritage to the historical portrait of him that survives into modernity, claiming that both ancient sources and modern scholars have downplayed the emperor’s origin and ancestry. Unfortunately, the publication is beset by factual errors that serve to undermine its case. This article addresses these shortcomings and attempts to explain the scholarly approach to Caracalla’s ethnicity, showing that there was some recognition of Caracalla’s African roots, even in antiquity. Furthermore, this article considers the question of modern Africa’s relationship with the emperor, noting the symbolism of the Severan family within Libya under the dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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