An Intimate History of the British Empire

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-10-11 01:56Z by Steven

An Intimate History of the British Empire

The New Yorker
2019-10-09

Maya Binyam


Hazel Carby as a child. Photograph Courtesy Hazel Carby

In “Imperial Intimacies,” Hazel Carby weaves together the story of colonialism and the story of her family.

After Carl Carby arrived in England from Jamaica, in 1943, he wore starched shirts, polished dress shoes, and neatly knotted ties. He was from the colonies, but his mannerisms evinced a restrained, British sensibility. Like most early immigrants from the Caribbean, he was expected to provide a service: his entrance to England was predicated on his employment as a bomber pilot in the Royal Air Force, which recruited around six thousand people from England’s “black colonies” to fight in the Second World War. At a dance in Worcester, he met Iris Leaworthy, a young, white Welsh woman who worked as a civil servant in the Air Ministry, and the two bonded over the surprising similarities of their upbringings. Both had grown up in poverty. As schoolchildren, each donned a starched uniform and, on Empire Day, a holiday designed to instill in children a feeling of belonging to a great nation, waved the Union Jack. When England went to war, both of them enthusiastically offered their service. The pair soon married, and had a daughter named Hazel. To her, Carl spoke little of Jamaica. “It was as if he had been born an airman in the Royal Air Force,” Hazel Carby writes in “Imperial Intimacies,” her new book of political history, which came out last month…

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Archive Fever

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-10-07 01:23Z by Steven

Archive Fever

Bookforum
2019-10-03

Tiana Reid, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of English and Comparative Literature
Columbia University, New York, New York

Autobiography and archival research collide in Hazel Carby’s memoir

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands by Hazel V. Carby. Verso. 416 pages. $29.

“Are we going to burn it?” A question about the fate of the future concludes Hazel Carby’s Race Men (1998), a powerful academic book about suffocating representations of black American masculinities based on a lecture the author delivered at Harvard. In her newest book, Carby is already burnt, the result of a smoldered past. “Imperial Intimacies is a very British story,” she writes in the preface. It is also her story: about growing up after World War II, about her childhood in the area now known as South London, about the family histories of her white Welsh mother and black Jamaican father, about, in all, the public and private agonies of imperialism and colonialism.

Probing the auto-historical, Carby studies her parents’ experiences in Jamaica and the United Kingdom, the “two islands” of the book’s subtitle. Her parents’ islands are connected not only by biological reproduction or a chance romance but also by the entanglement of ideologies. Her familial research at the National Archives of Jamaica and the United Kingdom offers at the same time a glimpse into the machinery of colonialism: the vexing racial iconography of postwar Britain, the psychic drains of poverty, the endlessness of wartime…

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Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2019-09-26 00:11Z by Steven

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Verso Books
2019-09-24
416 pages
6 x 9-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9781788735094
Ebook ISBN: 9781788735124

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies; Professor of American Studies
Yale University

Imperial Intimacies by Hazel V. Carby

A haunting and evocative history of British empire, told through one woman’s search through her family’s story

“Where are you from?” was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post–World War II London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh mother, Carby’s place in her home, her neighbourhood, and her country of birth was always in doubt.

Emerging from this setting, Carby untangles the threads connecting members of her family to each other in a web woven by the British Empire across the Atlantic. We meet Carby’s working-class grandmother Beatrice, a seamstress challenged by poverty and disease. In England, she was thrilled by the cosmopolitan fantasies of empire, by cities built with slave-trade profits, and by street peddlers selling fashionable Jamaican delicacies. In Jamaica, we follow the lives of both the “white Carbys” and the “black Carbys,” as Mary Ivey, a free woman of colour, whose children are fathered by Lilly Carby, a British soldier who arrived in Jamaica in 1789 to be absorbed into the plantation aristocracy. And we discover the hidden stories of Bridget and Nancy, two women owned by Lilly who survived the Middle Passage from Africa to the Caribbean.

Moving between the Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.

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The Indian Caribbean: Migration and Identity in the Diaspora

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2019-09-06 19:58Z by Steven

The Indian Caribbean: Migration and Identity in the Diaspora

University Press of Mississippi
January 2018
160 pages
12 b&w illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496814388
Paperback ISBN: 9781496823489

Lomarsh Roopnarine, Professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies
Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi

Winner of the 2018 Gordon K. and Sybil Farrell Lewis Award for the best book in Caribbean studies from the Caribbean Studies Association

This book tells a distinct story of Indians in the Caribbean–one concentrated not only on archival records and institutions, but also on the voices of the people and the ways in which they define themselves and the world around them. Through oral history and ethnography, Lomarsh Roopnarine explores previously marginalized Indians in the Caribbean and their distinct social dynamics and histories, including the French Caribbean and other islands with smaller South Asian populations. He pursues a comparative approach with inclusive themes that cut across the Caribbean.

In 1833, the abolition of slavery in the British Empire led to the import of exploited South Asian indentured workers in the Caribbean. Today India bears little relevance to most of these Caribbean Indians. Yet, Caribbean Indians have developed an in-between status, shaped by South Asian customs such as religion, music, folklore, migration, new identities, and Bollywood films. They do not seem akin to Indians in India, nor are they like Caribbean Creoles, or mixed-race Caribbeans. Instead, they have merged India and the Caribbean to produce a distinct, dynamic local entity.

The book does not neglect the arrival of nonindentured Indians in the Caribbean since the early 1900s. These people came to the Caribbean without an indentured contract or after indentured emancipation but have formed significant communities in Barbados, the US Virgin Islands, and Jamaica. Drawing upon over twenty-five years of research in the Caribbean and North America, Roopnarine contributes a thorough analysis of the Indo-Caribbean, among the first to look at the entire Indian diaspora across the Caribbean.

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Suffering Our Forefathers’ Sins: A Latino’s Reflection on White Supremacy

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Philosophy, Social Justice, Texas, United States on 2019-09-04 21:08Z by Steven

Suffering Our Forefathers’ Sins: A Latino’s Reflection on White Supremacy

Mere Orthodoxy
2019-08-12

Nathan Luis Cartagena, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

Two Saturdays ago mi esposa and I mourned for those devastated by the El Paso shooting. For us, this hit home. We had lived in the Lone Star State for seven years, our daughter was born there, and we have strong relationships with Chicanos/as from la frontera—the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

As we mourned, I thought about white supremacy’s role in this shooting. I thought about the painful irony that white supremacy originates in Portugal and Spain, the lands from which the ancestors of most Latinos/as and its subsets—including Chicanas/os and Tejanos/as—hail. This includes my ancestors. I am, after all, a Cartagena.

Yet despite our origins, Latinos/as are not deemed true whites. We are a racialized other; even the lightest of us who pass or receive the status of honorary white know this comes at a price and is liable to be lost the moment someone suspects we’ve broken the norms of white solidarity. How did this happen? How did the Iberian Peninsula’s Latina/o children lose the status of white? Let me sketch an answer for you…

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Producer Phillip Rodriguez Acquires Rights To ‘The Strange Career of William Ellis’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2019-08-21 23:02Z by Steven

Producer Phillip Rodriguez Acquires Rights To ‘The Strange Career of William Ellis’

Deadline: Breaking Hollywood News Since 2006
2019-08-21

Dino-Ray Ramos, Associate Editor/Reporter

EXCLUSIVE: Producer and indie filmmaker Phillip Rodriguez has optioned the film and TV rights to Karl Jacoby’s book The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire. Rodriguez is set to develop and produce the narrative-based project

Jacoby’s prize-winning book tells the true story of William Ellis, a larger-than-life figure who was born on the U.S.-Mexico border in the twilight of slavery and inhabited a world divided along ambiguous racial lines. Adopting the name Guillermo Eliseo, he passed as Mexican, transcending racial lines to become fabulously wealthy as a Wall Street banker, diplomat, and owner of scores of mines and haciendas south of the border. In The Strange Career of William Ellis, Columbia University historian Jacoby weaves an astonishing tale of cunning, scandal, self-invention and the abiding riddle of race in America

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Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2019-08-20 13:59Z by Steven

Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story

Dirty Movies — Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
2019-04-03

Redmond Bacon

Tender portrait of iconic ballet dancer doubles up as an exploration of fatherhood and also of the artist’s home nation Cuba – now available on VoD

Director – Icíar Bollaín – 2019

When I was very young, my parents took me to ballet class. I immediately baulked at the idea and sat on the floor until my mother gave up and took me home. At the time I believed that being a ballet dancer was the worst possible thing on earth; now I see it as a massive lost opportunity. Carlos Acosta’s own father, Pedro (Santiago Alfonso), wasn’t as magnanimous as my mother, completely ignoring his son’s wishes in the pursuit of a higher aim.

His bet paid off, turning Carlos Acosta (nicknamed Yuli) into one of the greatest ballet dancers that ever lived; the first black man to perform at the Royal Ballet in London. Played at three different ages by Edlison Manuel Olbera Núnez, Keyvin Martínez and finally by the man himself, Yuli…

It starts in the poverty stricken streets of Havana; a place where the best options for young men to make something of themselves is through sport or dance. Carlos’ talent, expressed early on through street dance, gives his father an idea, and soon he is dragged to an audition at the National Ballet School of Cuba. But Carlos doesn’t want to perform ballet and mocks both his future teachers and his parents by putting on a tongue-in-cheek Michael Jackson-homage. He derisively describes ballet as something “for faggots”. Yet it is this very same ebullient spirit that lands him a place. His talent cannot be denied.

This is played out against a political and ethnic backdrop that acutely portrays the complexity of the Afro-Cuban experience. In one haunting scene, Carlos’ father takes him to his great-grandmother’s plantation, showing him how he is a direct descendent from the slave trade. Meanwhile his white mother escapes with her white relatives to Miami, benefiting from the same privilege that is denied to the young man. Pedro spins this hardship into a positive, telling Carlos that if his descendants could survive slavery, then he can become anything he wants…

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Freedom and Frustration: Rachel Dolezal and the Meaning of Race

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2019-08-18 22:12Z by Steven

Freedom and Frustration: Rachel Dolezal and the Meaning of Race

Contexts
Volume: 18 issue: 3
pages 36-41
DOI: 10.1177/1536504219864957

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

In the United States, people often discuss how the burgeoning multi-racial population and immigrants from Asia and Latin America are forcing us to call into question what we know about racial and ethnic categories. This argument, however, takes for granted that being Black or White, categories at the poles, are unproblematic distinctions. This perspective essentializes Blackness and Whiteness as commonsense phenomena. They are anything but. The meanings of who is White and who is Black in the United States have shifted over centuries, and who gets slotted into what category changes across societies.

A couple of years ago, the media became fascinated with Rachel Dolezal, a woman born naturally to White parents, who identified as a Black woman. At a time when transgender issues were becoming salient, news media posed what seemed to them an obvious question: is it possible to be born White and become Black the same way it was possible to be born with male sex organs and become female? Although Dolezal never used the term “transracial” to identify herself, she reminded us that race is a social construction, something many people understand as fake and baseless. On these grounds, Dolezal decided that she would wear Black hairstyles, spend time in Black communities, date and marry Black men, lead a chapter of a historically Black organization, and supposedly leave Whiteness behind. This infuriated many people, especially African Americans.

When Rachel Dolezal made international news, my friends in Brazil did not understand the commotion. “What’s going on? Who is this woman?” they asked.

I understood some of their confusion…

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Archives of Conjure: Stories of the Dead in Afrolatinx Cultures

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Religion on 2019-08-12 01:28Z by Steven

Archives of Conjure: Stories of the Dead in Afrolatinx Cultures

Columbia University Press
March 2020
272 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780231194334
Hardcover ISBN: 9780231194327
E-book ISBN: 9780231550765

Solimar Otero, Professor of Folklore
Indiana University, Bloomington

Archives of Conjure

In Afrolatinx religious practices such as Cuban Espiritismo, Puerto Rican Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé, the dead tell stories. Communicating with and through mediums’ bodies, they give advice, make requests, and propose future rituals, creating a living archive that is coproduced by the dead. In this book, Solimar Otero explores how Afrolatinx spirits guide collaborative spiritual-scholarly activist work through rituals and the creation of material culture. By examining spirit mediumship through a Caribbean cross-cultural poetics, she shows how divinities and ancestors serve as active agents in shaping the experiences of gender, sexuality, and race.

Otero argues that what she calls archives of conjure are produced through residual transcriptions or reverberations of the stories of the dead whose archives are stitched, beaded, smoked, and washed into official and unofficial repositories. She investigates how sites like the ocean, rivers, and institutional archives create connected contexts for unlocking the spatial activation of residual transcriptions. Drawing on over ten years of archival research and fieldwork in Cuba, Otero centers the storytelling practices of Afrolatinx women and LGBTQ spiritual practitioners alongside Caribbean literature and performance. Archives of Conjure offers vital new perspectives on ephemerality, temporality, and material culture, unraveling undertheorized questions about how spirits shape communities of practice, ethnography, literature, and history and revealing the deeply connected nature of art, scholarship, and worship.

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La nueva tocaya

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Mexico, Passing, Texas, United States on 2019-08-11 02:42Z by Steven

La nueva tocaya

Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures
Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 2019 (Intersecting Latinx Lives: The Politics of Race)
pages 147-150
DOI: 10.2979/chiricu.3.2.14

Jessie D. Turner, Social Justice Educator, Academic and Creative Writer, Program Manager
Goleta, California

We were parked in their northwestern Vermont gravel driveway, on our way somewhere, but not yet gone. The autumn leaves glowed the color of cardinals and marigolds and honeycomb and mud, colors common to many seasons; it’s the mosaic, rather than any uniqueness in the colors themselves, that invites worship, each dying leaf fitted one against the next. My stepmother looked at my father as he turned from the front seat, looked at me, and admitted, “Becky thinks it’s important that you know . . .” My stepmother knew my love of and skill at Spanish, which I was taking in high school. She knew how much I missed the southern Arizona desert, where I lived twice as a child with my mother. Adding this knowledge together, she knew that I might value knowing that my paternal grandfather was Mexican. I had never heard of this grandfather before, never even wondered if I had one; why would I, when having moved back to Vermont just three years earlier, I was still grappling to intersect with my father?

After that month’s weekend visit with him and my stepmother, I took the return bus two hours southeast to where I lived with my mother in the Upper Valley. On Monday, I showed a slightly yellowed newspaper clipping to my art teachers, Pete and Elizabeth. We stood between their desks, gray metal veiled by gray camera equipment cabinets, and the printing press that hulked beneath the half-windowed whitewashed wall. My aunt—my dad’s half-sister and unrelated to my grandfather—had inherited that yellowed clipping and another half photograph from my grandmother. My aunt had excavated them from her farmhouse bedroom closet after they’d been in my family forty-five years. She had passed them on to me. “Look! This article mentions my dad’s father, who was a Golden Gloves boxer in the 50s!” I enthused. As I shared the photo, I stared into this heavily secreted face, this face now reborn. This face, this face, it belonged to a father who mine had never seen. As such, this new paper ancestor’s boxing face may have settled into my consciousness, but his race dissolved completely beyond it. That he was Mexican remained absolutely external to me. I was sixteen.

The balcony of my first apartment at age twenty-four reached deep enough for exactly one folding chair, which I angled toward the southeast for a clear view of the US-Mexico border. Each weekend morning I sat out there sipping chamomile tea, learning palm-frond melodies, and looking for hints of movement. I looked past the opera house and wide basin of parallel train tracks. Past the stores lining South El Paso Ave., the ones offering cheap shoes, bra and panty sets, and household items to those privileged enough to cross north for the day. Past layers and layers and layers of chain-link fencing and razor wire and video cameras. Past the Rio Bravo tamed into an empty cement wash. At 9 AM the line of cars waiting to cross into the US still stood relatively short; by noon it would triple. From my perch four blocks north of this international border crossing, the cars looked like Hot Wheels sliding effortlessly along a predetermined track: JuárezEl Paso, Juárez–El Paso.

On a Saturday afternoon in late January, I flowed through the city’s arteries and veins. I wound past the art museum where I had seen Cheech Marin’s Chicano Visions exhibit, past the ongoing restoration of the Plaza Theater. I wound past San Jacinto Plaza, lined with people waiting for city buses that themselves stood waiting for their timetables. Past El Segundo Barrio murals honoring La Virgen and Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, past corner stores selling international phone cards and Bimbo brand bread, past brown children squealing joy at a tiny puppy. At the Armijo Branch Library, southeast of my apartment and barely a breath’s sweep from la linea I found my weekly writing group waiting. That day I would share a recent reflection, short in length but nothing short of a revelation:..

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