Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

Posted in Africa, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery on 2022-01-24 02:03Z by Steven

Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race

Harvard University Press
2022-03-22
320 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
21 photos, 1 table
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674244269

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alfonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor; Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Andrew S. Curran, William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

The first translation and publication of sixteen submissions to the notorious eighteenth-century Bordeaux essay contest on the cause of “black” skin—an indispensable chronicle of the rise of scientifically based, anti-Black racism.

In 1739 Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences announced a contest for the best essay on the sources of “blackness.” What is the physical cause of blackness and African hair, and what is the cause of Black degeneration, the contest announcement asked. Sixteen essays, written in French and Latin, were ultimately dispatched from all over Europe. The authors ranged from naturalists to physicians, theologians to amateur savants. Documented on each page are European ideas about who is Black and why.

Looming behind these essays is the fact that some four million Africans had been kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic by the time the contest was announced. The essays themselves represent a broad range of opinions. Some affirm that Africans had fallen from God’s grace; others that blackness had resulted from a brutal climate; still others emphasized the anatomical specificity of Africans. All the submissions nonetheless circulate around a common theme: the search for a scientific understanding of the new concept of race. More important, they provide an indispensable record of the Enlightenment-era thinking that normalized the sale and enslavement of Black human beings.

These never previously published documents survived the centuries tucked away in Bordeaux’s municipal library. Translated into English and accompanied by a detailed introduction and headnotes written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Andrew Curran, each essay included in this volume lays bare the origins of anti-Black racism and colorism in the West.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: Who’s Black and Why?
  • Note on the Translations
  • I
    • Introduction: The 1741 Contest on the “Degeneration” of Black Skin and Hair
    • 1. Blackness through the Power of God
    • 2. Blackness through the Soul of the Father
    • 3. Blackness through the Maternal Imagination
    • 4. Blackness as a Moral Defect
    • 5. Blackness as a Result of the Torrid Zone
    • 6. Blackness as a Result of Divine Providence
    • 7. Blackness as a Result of Heat and Humidity
    • 8. Blackness as a Reversible Accident
    • 9. Blackness as a Result of Hot Air and Darkened Blood
    • 10. Blackness as a Result of a Darkened Humor
    • 11. Blackness as a Result of Blood Flow
    • 12. Blackness as an Extension of Optical Theory
    • 13. Blackness as a Result of an Original Sickness
    • 14. Blackness Degenerated
    • 15. Blackness Classified
    • 16. Blackness Dissected
  • II
    • Introduction: The 1772 Contest on “Preserving” Negroes
    • 1. A Slave Ship Surgeon on the Crossing
    • 2. A Parisian Humanitarian on the Slave Trade
    • 3. Louis Alphonse, Bordeaux Apothecary, on the Crossing
  • Select Chronology of the Representation of Africans and Race
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Credits
  • Index
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The German Crocodile: A Literary Memior (Das Deutsche Krokodil)

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Europe, Monographs on 2022-01-19 23:52Z by Steven

The German Crocodile: A Literary Memior (Das Deutsche Krokodil)

DAS Editions
November 2021 (originally published in 2017)
366 pages
Hardcover 978-1838221508
eBook ISBN : 978-1838221515

Ijoma Mangold (Translated into English by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp)

In this compelling memoir of growing up different, Ijoma Mangold, today one of Germany’s best literary critics, remembers his youth in 1970s Heidelberg and the new Federal Republic, and momentous visits in early adulthood to the USA and Nigeria.

His own story is inextricably linked with that of his mother, a German from the eastern province of Silesia, forced to escape as a refugee in the expulsions from 1944, and to start afresh in utter poverty in West Germany. His Nigerian father came to Germany to train in pediatric surgery but returned before Ijoma was old enough to remember him. His reappearance on the scene forces a crash collision with an unknown culture, one he grew up suspicious of, and a new complex family history to come to terms with. Mangold explores many existential questions in this lively narrative; How does a boy cope with an absent father? What was it like to grow up ‘bi-racial’ in the Federal Republic? Was he an opportunist, a master adaptor who had over-assimilated? What is the relationship between race and class? And what is more unusual in Germany: having dark skin or a passion for Thomas Mann and Richard Wagner? Ijoma shares his story with its dramatic twists and turns, not forgetting the surprises he uncovers about himself along the way.

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The Space Between Black and White

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Europe, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2022-01-18 02:55Z by Steven

The Space Between Black and White

Jacaranda Books
2020-03-03
Paperback ISBN: 9781913090128

Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith

This unique #TwentyIn2020 memoir sheds light on Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith’s journey as a feminist and political activist. The book illuminates her inner journey of self-discovery and uncovers truths that could help a growing community of mixed-race people struggling to find their own space in the world.

Illuminating her inner journey growing up mixed-race in Britain, Esua Jane Goldsmith’s unique memoir exposes the isolation and ambiguities that often come with being ‘an only’.

Raised in 1950s South London and Norfolk with a white, working-class family, Esua’s education in racial politics was immediate and personal. From Britain and Scandinavia to Italy and Tanzania, she tackled inequality wherever she saw it, establishing an inspiring legacy in the Women’s lib and Black Power movements.

Plagued by questions of her heritage and the inability to locate all pieces of herself, she embarks on a journey to Ghana to find the father who may have the answers.

A tale of love, comradeship, and identity crises, Esua’s rise to the first Black woman president of Leicester University Students’ Union and Queen Mother of her village, is inspiring, honest, and full of heart.

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Inventing the Science of Race

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2021-11-29 02:53Z by Steven

Inventing the Science of Race

The New York Review
2021-12-16

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alfonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor; Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Andrew S. Curran, William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

Jean-Baptiste Oudry: Africa: A European Merchant Bartering with a Black Chief, from the Four Continents series, 1724

In 1741, Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences held an essay contest searching for the origin of “blackness.” The results help us see how Enlightenment thinkers justified chattel slavery.

In 1712 King Louis XIV of France signed the lettres patentes that formally established Bordeaux’s Royal Academy of Sciences, Belles Lettres, and Arts, a social club of intellectual inquiry and public edification. In contrast to the more conservative University of Bordeaux, whose primary objective was to educate the country’s priests, doctors, and lawyers through lessons compatible with Scripture, the Bordeaux Academy saw itself as “enlightened”: its objective was advancing scientific truth as part of a larger program intended to promote “mankind’s happiness.”

Every year, the academy organized an essay contest that it publicized throughout Europe. In 1739 the members announced the subject of the competition for 1741: “Quelle est la cause physique de la couleur des nègres, de la qualité de leur cheveux, et de la dégénération de l’un et de l’autre?” (“What is the physical cause of the Negro’s color, the quality of [the Negro’s] hair, and the degeneration of both [Negro hair and skin]?”) Embedded in this question was the academy’s assumption that something had happened to “Negroes” that had caused them to degenerate, to turn black and grow unusual hair. In short, the academy wanted to know who is black, and why. It wanted to know, too, what being black signified. The winner was promised a gold medal worth three hundred livres, roughly the annual earnings of a common worker at the time.

The 1741 contest was only the latest iteration of non-Africans’ fascination with dark skin. When the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Arabic peoples first described the inhabitants of Africa, it was Africans’ color that struck them most. Over many centuries, African “blackness” grew into an all-encompassing signifier that substituted for the range of reddish, yellowish, and blackish-brown colors that the skins of Africans actually express. The color black also became synonymous with the land itself; many of the geographical names that outsiders assigned to sub-Saharan AfricaNiger, Nigritia, Sudan, Zanzibar—contain the etymological roots of the word “black.” The most telling example is the name Ethiopia. Derived from the Greek aitho (I burn) and ops (face), it became the most widespread label for the entire sub-Saharan portion of the continent until the late seventeenth century. It even hinted at the cause of blackness itself…

Read the entire article here.

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Film Screening with Director Ines Johnson-Spain in Attendance: “Becoming Black”

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Videos on 2021-11-19 20:34Z by Steven

Film Screening with Director Ines Johnson-Spain in Attendance: “Becoming Black”

Black Germans
2021-11-17

Sponsored by Waterloo Centre for German, German at University of Toronto, and Africana Studies at Rutgers University-Camden
November 17, 2021

SYNOPSIS: Becoming Black (dir. Ines Johnson-Spain, 2019, 91 min.):

In the 1960s, the East German Sigrid falls in love with Lucien from Togo, one of several African students studying at a trade school on the outskirts of East Berlin. She becomes pregnant, but is already married to Armin. Sigrid and Armin raise their daughter as their own, withholding from her knowledge of her African paternal heritage. That child grows up to become the filmmaker Ines Johnson-Spain. In filmed encounters with her aging stepfather Armin and others from her youth, Johnson-Spain tracks the strategies of denial developed by her parents and the surrounding community. Her intimate but also critical exploration comprising both painful and confusing childhood memories and matter-of-fact accounts testifies to a culture of repression. When blended with movingly warm encounters with her Togolese family, Becoming Black becomes a thought-provoking reflection on identity, social norms and family ties.

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A Colored Man Round the World

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 02:58Z by Steven

A Colored Man Round the World

University of Michigan Press
1999 (originally published in 1858)
232 pages
3 drawings.
5-1/2 x 8-1/2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-472-09694-7
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-472-06694-0

David F. Dorr (ca. 1827-1872)

Edited by:

Malini Johar Schueller, Professor of English
University of Florida

London, Paris, Constantinople, Athens, Cairo and Jerusalem in the 1850s—as seen through the eyes of a former slave

This remarkable book, written by former slave David F. Dorr, published in the mid-nineteenth century and only recently rediscovered, is an uncommon travel narrative. In the 1850s Dorr accompanied Louisiana plantation owner Cornelius Fellowes on a tour of the world’s major cities, with the promise that when they returned to the United States, Dorr would be given his freedom. When that promise was broken, Dorr escaped to Ohio and wrote of his experiences in A Colored Man Round the World.

Malini Johar Schueller has edited and annotated the 1858 text and added a critical introduction that provides a useful context for understanding and appreciating this important but heretofore neglected document. Her edition of A Colored Man Round the World provides a fascinating account of Dorr’s negotiation of the conflicting roles of slave versus man, taking into account all of the racial complexities that existed at the time. As a traveler abroad, Dorr claimed an American selfhood that allowed him mobility in Europe, and he benefited from the privileges accorded American “Orientalists” venturing in the near East. However, any empowerment that Dorr experienced while a tourist vanished upon his return to America.

The book will be welcomed for the rare perspective it provides of the mid-nineteenth century, through the eyes of an African-American slave and for the light it casts on world and U.S. history as well as on questions of racial and national identity.

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Film Screening with Director in Attendance: “Becoming Black”(2019)

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Europe, Live Events, Media Archive, Videos on 2021-11-12 16:07Z by Steven

Film Screening with Director in Attendance: “Becoming Black”(2019)

Black German Heritage & Research Association
Online Event
Wednesday, 2021-11-17, 17:30-19:30Z (12:30-14:30 EST)

As the next segment of our ongoing All Black Lives Matter event series, and in cooperation with the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, The University of Toronto, and Africana Studies at Rutgers University-Camden, the Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) is pleased to invite you to a film screening of Ines Johnson-Spain’s autobiographical documentary “Becoming Black“(2019).

SYNOPSIS: Becoming Black (dir. Ines Johnson-Spain, 2019, 91 min.):

In the 1960s, the East German Sigrid falls in love with Lucien from Togo, one of several African students studying at a trade school on the outskirts of East Berlin. She becomes pregnant, but is already married to Armin. Sigrid and Armin raise their daughter as their own, withholding from her knowledge of her African paternal heritage. That child grows up to become the filmmaker Ines Johnson-Spain. In filmed encounters with her aging stepfather Armin and others from her youth, Johnson-Spain tracks the strategies of denial developed by her parents and the surrounding community. Her intimate but also critical exploration comprising both painful and confusing childhood memories and matter-of-fact accounts testifies to a culture of repression. When blended with movingly warm encounters with her Togolese family, Becoming Black becomes a thought-provoking reflection on identity, social norms and family ties.

The link to view the film will be posted on Eventbrite for registrants to stream from November 15-18, 2021.

For more information and to register, click here.

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The Boundaries of Mixedness: A Global Perspective

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Europe, Family/Parenting, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Science, South Africa, United States on 2021-08-30 20:41Z by Steven

The Boundaries of Mixedness: A Global Perspective

Routledge
2020-10-12
164 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9780367522926
eBook ISBN: 9781003057338

Edited by:

Erica Chito Childs, Professor of Sociology
Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York

The Boundaries of Mixedness tackles the burgeoning field of critical mixed race studies, bringing together research that spans five continents and more than ten countries. Research on mixedness is growing, yet there is still much debate over what exactly mixed race means, and whether it is a useful term. Despite a growing focus on and celebration of mixedness globally, particularly in the media, societies around the world are grappling with how and why crossing socially constructed boundaries of race, ethnicity and other markers of difference matter when considering those who date, marry, raise families, or navigate their identities across these boundaries. What we find collectively through the ten studies in this book is that in every context there is a hierarchy of mixedness, both in terms of intimacy and identity. This hierarchy of intimacy renders certain groups as more or less marriable, socially constructed around race, ethnicity, caste, religion, skin color and/or region. Relatedly, there is also a hierarchy of identities where certain races, languages, ethnicities and religions are privileged and valued differently. These differences emerge out of particular local histories and contemporary contexts yet there are also global realities that transcend place and space.

The Boundaries of Mixedness is a significant new contribution to mixed race studies for academics, researchers, and advanced students of Ethnic and Racial Studies, Sociology, History and Public Policy.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Critical Mixed Race in Global Perspective: An Introduction / Erica Chito Childs
  • Hierarchies of Mixing: Navigations and Negotiations
    • 2. An Unwanted Weed: Children of Cross-region Unions Confront Intergenerational Stigma of Caste, Ethnicity and Religion / Reena Kukreja
    • 3. Mixed Race Families in South Africa: Naming and Claiming a Location / Heather Dalmage
    • 4. Negotiating the (Non)Negotiable: Connecting ‘Mixed-Race’ Identities to ‘Mixed-Race’ Families / Mengxi Pang
  • Hierarchies of Mixedness: Choices and Challenges
    • 5. Linguistic Cultural Capital Among Descendants of Mixed Couples in Catalonia, Spain: Realities and Inequalities / Dan Rodriguez-Garcia
    • 6. ‘There is Nothing Wrong with Being a Mulatto’: Structural Discrimination and Racialized Belonging in Denmark / Mira Skadegaard
    • 7. Exceptionalism with Non-Validation: The Social Inconsistencies of Being Mixed Race in Australia / Stephanie Guy
  • Mixed Matters Through a Wider Lens
    • 8. Recognising Selves in Others: Situating Dougla Manoeuverability as Shared Mixed-Race Ontology / Susan Barratt and Aleah Ranjitsingh
    • 9. What’s Love Got To Do With It? Emotional Authority and State Regulation of Interracial/National Couples in Ireland / Rebecca King-O’Riain
    • 10. Re-viewing Race and Mixedness: Mixed Race in Asia and the Pacific / Zarine Rocha
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New York City Ballet’s Rachel Hutsell Is Turning Heads in the Corps

Posted in Africa, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-08-23 03:33Z by Steven

New York City Ballet’s Rachel Hutsell Is Turning Heads in the Corps

Pointe
2018-05-22

Marina Harss


Rachel Hutsell Photographed for Pointe by Jayme Thornton.

“I’m very cautious by nature,” Rachel Hutsell says over herbal tea at Lincoln Center between rehearsals. You wouldn’t think so from the way she moves onstage or in the studio. In fact, one of the most noticeable characteristics of Hutsell’s dancing is boldness, a result of the intelligence and intention with which she executes each step. (What she calls caution is closer to what most people see as preparedness.) She doesn’t approximate—she moves simply and fully, with total confidence. That quality hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Even though she has been at New York City Ballet for less than three years, Hutsell, 21, is regularly cast in a wide variety of repertoire. She has already collaborated with several choreographers, including Troy Schumacher, Gianna Reisen, Peter Walker and Justin Peck, on new works. “She’s not afraid to make mistakes,” says Peck, who has used her in two premieres, The Most Incredible Thing and The Decalogue. “And she’s open to exploring new movements.”…

Read the enter article here.

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Eartha Kitt’s daughter reveals what her mother taught her about race

Posted in Africa, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2021-07-09 01:08Z by Steven

Eartha Kitt’s daughter reveals what her mother taught her about race

TODAY
2021-04-23

Kitt Shapiro, daughter of the iconic actress and singer Eartha Kitt, discusses her mother’s experience with racism, recounting watching her being turned away at a “whites only” amusement park in South Africa. Shapiro says that as she’s gotten older, she has more understanding of her mother’s suffering and strength.

Watch the interview here.

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