Q&A with Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-04-20 20:40Z by Steven

Q&A with Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History

Christopher Jones, Visiting Assistant Professor of History
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Daniel Livesay

Daniel Livesay is Associate Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. His research focuses on questions of race, slavery, and family in the colonial Atlantic World. His first book, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 was published in January 2018 by the University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute. Casey Schmitt reviewed it yesterday here at The Junto. Daniel’s research has been supported by an NEH postdoctoral fellowship at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the Fulbright Foundation, the Institute of Historical Research, and the North American Conference on British Studies, as well as number of short-term fellowships. He is currently working on a book manuscript about enslaved individuals of advanced age in Virginia and Jamaica from 1776-1865 entitled, Endless Bondage: Old Age in New World Slavery. He graciously agreed to sit down and answer a few questions about his research.

JUNTO: Congratulations on the publication of your book, and thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about it for readers of The Junto. Let’s start with a broad question: Where did the idea for this book begin?

DANIEL LIVESAY: First off, thanks for inviting me to The Junto. I really enjoy the site, and I’m very excited to be part of it.

The idea for the book effectively landed at my feet. When I started graduate school at the University of Michigan in 2003, the Clements Library—which, as many readers know, is a stellar manuscripts archive at the University—had just purchased the papers of John Tailyour, who was a slave trader in Jamaica at the end of the eighteenth century. The library needed someone to do an initial catalog of the collection, and since I was interested in the history of slavery, I spent several months working through the papers. The collection is really a jewel of economic history because Tailyour took up so much space writing about slave trading in Kingston. But the thing I became obsessed with were his letters back to family in Britain. In particular, he was asking if his relatives could find boarding schools in England for his four mixed-race children whom he had with an enslaved woman named Polly Graham. I had certainly heard of white men manumitting their children, but I had never heard of those same men sending their offspring of color to expensive institutions in Britain. It seemed like a strange level of parental responsibility from a man who also sold thousands of Africans without the slightest hesitation. I felt that I had to know more about the motivations behind this, what the experiences of these migrants were, and what all of it meant for conceptions of race in the Atlantic World. So, I decided to write a graduate seminar paper on the Tailyour family. I went to Britain for a couple of months, found a few stray references to other migrants of color, but ultimately grew worried that it would be almost impossible to find more families who undertook the journey. I finished the seminar paper, and then put it all away thinking that I would need to find another project for my dissertation…

Read the entire interview here.

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All Mixed Up: Our Changing Racial Identities Film Screening

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Live Events, United States, Videos on 2018-04-20 02:56Z by Steven

All Mixed Up: Our Changing Racial Identities Film Screening
Sie FilmCenter
2510 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80206
Wednesday, 2018-05-09, 19:00-21:30 MDT (Local Time)
Rebekah E. Henderson, Creator

World Premiere of the film project All Mixed Up: Our Changing Racial Identities. AMU is a short film that examines the experience of multiracial Americans and their families through a series of interviews. This project is intended to be the start of many more conversations about how we think about race. Following the film there will be a Q&A session with the project creators and some of the participants. This screening will be in honor of the late Dr. Gregory Diggs who provided the creative spark that launched this project last spring.

For more information, click here. To purchase tickets, click here.

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The Rise of the Afro-descendent Identity in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive on 2018-03-30 02:11Z by Steven

The Rise of the Afro-descendent Identity in Latin America


For Black History Month, Catherine Walsh, professor of Afro-Andean Studies at the University Simon Bolivar in Quito, Ecuador, shares with teleSUR her views about the achievements and challenges for the construction of an Afro-descendent consciousness in Latin America.

What in recent history would you say has contributed to the rise of a Black and Afro-descendent identity, with Black communities now embracing more than ever their culture across the continent?

Yes, this has changed radically. Several moments in recent history are important to highlight: in the 1990s, with the rise of Indigenous movements, alliances were built between Indigenous and Black people like in Ecuador.

But Black communities also began to organize by themselves, involving the construction of a notion of a Black territory, sometimes referred to as the “Gran Comarca” from the South of Panama to the North of Ecuador, where national identity does not matter. Black people living in the region often come from the same families, they have similar last names, and for many years have moved freely over the borders identifying as Afro-descendent and regardless of the national borders…

Read the entire interview here.

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Kali Nicole Gross

Posted in Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-03-22 02:31Z by Steven

Kali Nicole Gross

New Books Network


Christine Lamberson, Assistant Professor of History
Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas

Kali Nicole Gross

Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America
Oxford University Press 2016

True crime is as popular as ever in our present moment. Both television and podcast series have gained critical praise and large audiences by exploring largely unknown individual crimes in depth and using them to consider broader questions surrounding the justice system, guilt and innocence, class and racial inequality, and evidence. Rarely do we get to think historically about these broader topics through the lens of individual, especially unknown, cases in light of the challenges posed by researching historical crimes. Kali Nicole Gross, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University New Brunswick, has done incredible research to do just that in her new book, Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America (Oxford University Press, Hardcover 2016, Paperback 2018). The book won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction.

The book tells the story of the discovery of a torso, the investigation of the murder, and the life of the accused—Hannah Mary Tabbs. The body was discovered in 1887 and drew an unusual amount of attention in the segregated areas in and around Philadelphia, especially given the victim and accused were black. In this episode of the podcast, Gross discusses why the case caught the eye of the public and investigators at the time. She also explains some of the broader context and insights of the case. Finally, she talks about her research process. We don’t give away the resolution of the case in our conversation, but will introduce you to Hannah Mary Tabbs and the world of post-Reconstruction Philadelphia in which she lived.

Listen to the interview (00:56:48) here. Download the interview here.

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Phoebe Collings-James Wants To Change The Face Of The Art World

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-03-20 00:05Z by Steven

Phoebe Collings-James Wants To Change The Face Of The Art World


Sydney Gore, Assistant Digital Editor

with more color in the picture

In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called Black Girl Power… The Future Is Bright. Every day, phenomenal black women from different industries will be featured to tell their stories—revealing how they became who they are, showing what they have accomplished, and pinpointing how they navigated their careers. Black women deserve to be celebrated 365 days of the year, and we hope that this series will inspire everyone to believe in the power of #blackgirlmagic.

Phoebe Collings-James is an artist from London currently based in New York. Breaking out into the art world can be challenging enough as a woman, but the 28-year-old has been exposed to even more realities as the product of an English and Jamaican family. Collings-James’ latest work at the CONDO exhibition consisted of a series of watercolour paintings of animals titled Just Enough Violence. (Her previous series was called Choke On Your Tongue.)

“My work relies on a hypersensitivity to the situations and people surrounding me. Perhaps that broadly describes many artists, but it is true. I think it’s about bearing witness,” she told us in an email. “That gets scrambled with my research and desires to make physical things, to use my hands to turn materials from one form to another. I love art. I feel like I always forget to say that and it’s the most obvious answer really. I got into it because I love it. I find it inspiring because it can open up your imagination, which is something that is essential if we are to live and not merely survive.”

Collings-James started modeling as a teenager and then got back into it a few years ago as a means to support her artistic practice. Her approach toward fashion and art has always been one of great ambivalence. “I think clothes are vitally important, even more so to people who are overlooked or marginalised in society,” she added. “For many it is one of the few ways of expressing your creativity. To show the world who you are, what you are into, and what you believe in.”

This reasoning is why Collings-James thinks that cultural appropriation has become a more divisive subject today. “Whether it’s designers appropriating ‘work wear’ or Kylie Jenner wearing her hair in cornrows, our style is something very precious,” she explained.

Get more familiar with Collings-James and her work in the interview, below!…

How did you grow into your black identity? (Or, if you’re multiracial, how did you grow into your identity as such?)

I feel like I’m only just figuring that out to be honest. When I see younger women like Amandla Stenberg speak so eloquently and vehemently about their identities I’m so happy that they exist now. As I feel like I was looking for that kind of inspiration as a kid and didn’t find it until much later. A lot of my relationships with my identity have been through the lens of relationships with men who, both black and white, have projected their own complicated relationships with race onto my body and mind. It’s only in the last year I have started to feel more whole. As black people, we often are seen as just skin. Light skin, dark skin, golden skin—ooh that beautiful blue-black skin. We don’t get to be whole. We don’t get to be nuanced or chameleon-like.

I have been reading Grace Jones’ autobiography and she is giving me life each day. Coming from Jamaica like my father’s family, she describes her relationship with a world that would rather she stayed small, or fitted neatly in a box, and she continues at age 66 to smash all conventions. I especially like the way she describes each of the glossy photos that line the gutter of the book. “At the edge of the Caribbean Sea.” “A one-man show. A red curtain, an accordion, a minimal staircase, one leg up. Voila – theatre!” “Acting natural in a 1970’s disco setting.” “Using a New York rooftop as a stage, totally believing in myself.” When people say gender and race are constructs, Grace knows that innately. She lives that performance of identities. She is my hero/ine!…

Read the entire interview here.

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February 20, 2018 – Lacey Schwartz & Mat Johnson

Posted in Census/Demographics, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2018-02-22 01:20Z by Steven

February 20, 2018 – Lacey Schwartz & Mat Johnson

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper
Comedy Central

Jordan Klepper, Host

Jordan offers advice to civic-minded teens, talks the #NeverAgain movement with student activists, and chats with Lacey Schwartz and Mat Johnson of “The Loving Generation.”

Watch the episode (00:21:15) here.

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She’s Biracial, And It’s Not A Secret: Meet Duke Psychologist Sarah Gaither

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2018-02-21 23:49Z by Steven

She’s Biracial, And It’s Not A Secret: Meet Duke Psychologist Sarah Gaither

The State of Things
WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio

Amanda Magnus, Producer

Frank Stasio, Host

Sarah Gaither is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke, and a leading researcher in the field of biracial identity.
Courtesy of Sarah Gaither

Multiracial people are the fastest growing demographic group in the country. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the nation’s multiracial population will triple by 2060, but not much research has been done on this group. Sarah Gaither is hoping to change that. She’s an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, and she is also a biracial woman.

Listen to the interview (00:47:45) here.

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Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-02-20 03:12Z by Steven

Incognegro: Renaissance Author Mat Johnson Talks About Living a Black Life With Skin That Can Look White


Charles Pulliam-Moore

Dark Horse

In Dark Horse’s Incognegro: Renaissance, Zane Pinchback—a young black journalist and New York transplant by way of Tupelo, Mississippi—finds himself smack dab in the middle of Harlem at the height of its Renaissance during the 1920s. Zane, like Incognegro: Renaissance creator Mat Johnson, is a black man with a light enough complexion that people are sometimes unsure or entirely unaware of his race.

To those who know him, Zane’s identity isn’t a question, but for many of the new people he encounters in New York—particularly the white ones—Zane is able to pass as white, and thus move through certain spaces that other black people can’t. Drawn by Warren Pleece, Incognegro: Renaissance opens on a very taboo and illegal book party in Harlem where black and white people co-mingle as the champagne flows freely.

When a black guest suddenly turns up dead of an apparent suicide, the authorities show up on the scene to shut the gathering down, but have zero interest in investigating whether the death may be a homicide because the man is black. Realizing that his ability to pass (and willingness to do work others won’t) might allow him to dig deeper into the potential crime, Zane sets out on a mission to uncover the truth.

When I spoke with Johnson recently about his inspiration for the new series, he explained that much of the core premise is based on his own experiences and a life-long love of Walter Francis White, the civil rights activist who was the head of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955. But what Johnson really wants readers to get out of the series, he said, was a better understanding of the fact that identity in all its forms is fluid…

Read the entire interview here.

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National Park Service’s Betty Reid Soskin Publishes Memoir at 96

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-02-20 01:12Z by Steven

National Park Service’s Betty Reid Soskin Publishes Memoir at 96

KQED Radio
San Francisco, California

Mina Kim, Host

Betty Reid Soskin’s lectures at Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter Museum have garnered her national attention, including a visit with President Obama in 2015. Soskin’s talks reflect on the oft-overlooked African-American wartime experience and how opportunities for black women have changed throughout her lifetime. Now the 96-year-old has written a memoir, “Sign My Name to Freedom,” documenting her history as a political activist, musician and entrepreneur. A longtime resident of the East Bay, Soskin illustrates how the Bay Area laid the groundwork for the national civil rights movement.

Listen to the interview (00:34:56) here. Download the interview here.

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Interview: Phoebe Boswell “I always want drawings to be open and moving and shifting”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-01-22 03:13Z by Steven

Interview: Phoebe Boswell “I always want drawings to be open and moving and shifting”

Moving Histories: History and Memory through the Moving Image and its dialogue with other media

Yvette Greslé

Phoebe Boswell, wall drawing, “For Every Real Word Spoken”, Tiwani Contemporary, 2017. © Sylvain Deleu, courtesy of the artist and Tiwani Contemporary.

This interview (Yvette Greslé and Phoebe Boswell) was conducted at Tiwani Contemporary, 14 March 2017.

Phoebe Boswell was born in 1982 in Nairobi, Kenya and raised, as an expatriate, in the Middle East. Boswell, who is now based in London, studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art and 2D Animation at Central St Martins. Her dialogue with her Gikuyu-Kenyan born mother (Joyce) and British-Kenyan (Timothy) father underpins her first major multimedia installation The Matter of Memory (2014) shown, together with work by John Akomfrah and Rashaad Newsome, at Carroll/Fletcher (London) in 2014. In 2015, The Matter of Memory was shown at the Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA) curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose. A second major multimedia installation, Mutumia (2016) was commissioned and produced for the Biennial of Moving Images at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva in 2016. In 2017, Mutumia was exhibited in Kiev for the Future Generation Art Prize for which Boswell was shortlisted; and subsequently awarded the Special Prize which supports a residency program. In addition to The Matter of Memory and Mutumia, Boswell has produced a number of works notably Prologue: The Lizard of Unmarriedness (It’s All About How You Tell It) and The Stranger in the Village (both 2015). She was awarded a Sky Academy Arts Scholarship in 2012 and has been an artist-in-residence at the Florence Trust and the Konstepidemin, Gothenburg (2015). Since 2016 she has been an artist-in-residence at Somerset House (London). Boswell’s film Dear Mr Shakespeare, directed by Shola Amoo, was selected for the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. The medium of drawing, as an art practice encompassing animation, is central to Boswell’s oeuvre thus far. Her drawing work is also situated in relation to audience participation; architectural and spatial environments; video art; sound; and found objects and materials.

Yvette Greslé: What was the impetus for the work produced for For Every Real Word Spoken at Tiwani Contemporary? It is preceded by Mutumia and emerges from this work?

Phoebe Boswell: A friend of mine sent me an image of naked, older African women lying in a dirt path in Uganda. My own immediate visceral reaction was: “What’s happening to these women? What’s being done to them? How are they being violated?” I was horrified by this image. Then, my friend sent me the story of the photograph and I discovered that these were Acholi women. The Acholi people had been fighting for their land rights for a long time. On this specific day, the government had sent in people to physically remove people. The women decided: “Enough is enough, we’re going to do something”. They took off their clothes. It’s a taboo for men to see women naked, to see their mothers naked. So they took off their clothes and lay down in the path. They affected what happened next. They were not removed from the land that day. Actually, the image that I was looking at is a very heroic image but my conditioning made me read the naked female body and black women’s bodies through the filter of my own conditioning. I was so sure that this was a terrible image…

Read the entire interview here.

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