Ethnographic Pictorialism: Caroline Gurrey’s Hawaiian Types at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2012-05-20 23:43Z by Steven

Ethnographic Pictorialism: Caroline Gurrey’s Hawaiian Types at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition

History of Photography
Volume 36, Issue 2 (May 2012)
pages 172-183
DOI: 10.1080/03087298.2012.654943

Heather Waldroup, Associate Professor of Art History
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina

In 1909, a series of photographs by Honolulu portraitist Caroline Gurrey was exhibited at the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle. The photographs, which combine elements of the Pictorialist style and ethnographic photography, are portraits of young men and women of either Native Hawaiian or mixed-race heritage. The archival record indicates that the photographs were purchased in Honolulu by a member of the Exposition’s administration, and Gurrey’s original intention for them is currently unknown. Nevertheless, the author argues that through their display at the AYPE an exposition that stressed industry, expansion and commerce as its key themes Gurrey’s portraits served a significant role in the articulation and visualisation of the Exposition’s central goals and the United States’s desires for settlement of the newly-acquired Territory of Hawaii by bourgeois white agriculturalists.

A portfolio of portraits of Hawaiian teenagers created by Caroline Hawkins Gurrey in 1909 tells a rich story about the intersection of American imperial interests and the persuasive powers of photography in the early twentieth century, Gurrev was already a successful portrait photographer in Honolulu when this portfolio was selected to be exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacifc Exposition (AYPE) in Seattle during the summer of 1909. She photographed a number of Honolulu’s elite, such as Sanford Dole, using the Pictorialist style, and was known for producing various photographs documenting life in contemporary Hawai‘i. The fifty photographs in the Hawaiian Types’ series—now held at the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives—were chosen and displayed by the AVPE’s administration to illustrate Hawaii’s racial landscape for a very large audience of fairgoer. The photographs’ style which combines tropes of ethnographic photography with the aesthetics of Pictorialism, underscores a key goal ol the AYPE: to combine supposed truth with aesthetic beauty in order to market Hawai‘i to potential settlers of the relatively new American territory…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Is the American Negro Becoming Lighter? An Analysis of the Sociological and Biological Trends

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-05-20 23:03Z by Steven

Is the American Negro Becoming Lighter? An Analysis of the Sociological and Biological Trends

American Sociological Review
Volume 13, Number 4 (August, 1948)
pages 437-443

William M. Kephart, Professor of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

There is a belief in some quarters that there is a biological solution to the Negro problem; that is, in due course of time there will be no Negro problem because there will be no Negroes. They will have gradually become lighter and lighter, by virtue of the infusion of white blood, and by the preferential mating among Negroes themselves (wherein the light-skinned Ne- groes are the preferred mates), and finally will have disappeared as a minority group. This paper is an attempt to refute this theory, and in addition, perhaps, to bring up to date some of the findings on the Negro skin color.

In a recent article entitled “The Vanishing American Negro,” Ralph Linton maintains that in 200 years the American Negro will have disappeared as a minority group. Dr. Linton bases his assumption on several hypotheses. First, it is maintained that so far as total population is concerned, the overall proportion of Negroes to whites is steadily declining.

This statement needs some amplification. From 1790, when the first census was taken, until fairly recently, it is true that the proportion of Negroes in the total population declined. In 1790, 19.3 per cent of the United States population was Negro, while by 1930 this figure had been virtually halved to 9.7 per cent. This comparative diminution was due not only to a smaller net reproduction rate on the part of the Negro as compared to the white, but also to immigration. Thompson estimates that 38,000,000 immigrants entered the United States between 1820 and 1930, and (he number of Negroes included was negligible. (Since 1808, when African slave importation was prohibited by law, the number of Negroes entering the country has been extremely small.)

By 1930, however, the immigration picture had changed, and by 1940 the effects of this change could be seen in the Negro-White Census figures…

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The “Passing” Question

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, United States on 2012-05-20 18:00Z by Steven

The “Passing” Question

Phylon (1940-1956)
Volume 9, Number 4 (4th Quarter 1948)
pages 336-340

Wm. M. Kephart, Professor of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

How many Negroes are ‘passing‘ every year in the United  States?” “What percentage of the White population possesses some Negro blood?” “In time, will all the Negroes ‘pass’?” “What proportion of the present-day Negro population is pure Negro?” “Is it true that many of our so-called White marriages are producing Negro offspring?” “Are some of our top-flight radio and motion picture entertainers really Negroes?”

These questions, or questions of similar implication, have been asked sporadically for the past 200 years. Recently, however, they have broken out afresh. Sinclair Lewis’ best-seller, Kingsblood Royal, persistent rumors concerning some of our most popular entertainers, and finally estimates as to the number of Negroes who “pass” every year, have done much to revive the old questions (and superstitions) regarding the “mysteries” of skin color.

Some of the questions are scientifically answerable, some are unanswerable because of the nature of the data, and some of the questions have only hypothetical answers. Ignoring the answerable questions for a moment, let us examine those questions which either have no present answer, or at best whose answers are problematical.

I. The number of Negroes who annually “pass.”

Walter White, in his “Why I Remain A Negro” states that “Every year approximately 12,000 white-skinned Negroes disappear…Roi Ottley, in his “Five Million White Negroes” puts the figure at between forty and fifty thousand annually, with a “total” of between five and eight million! Such a wide disparity in figures suggests the real answer, namely, nobody knows.

For obvious reasons, Negroes who do “pass” keep the matter a secret, at least to the Whites. Furthermore, many Negroes who do “pass” do so on a temporary basis; that is, many of them are discovered, move to a new cultural setting, and begin the “passing” procedure over again.

For obvious reasons, Negroes who do “pass” keep the matter a secret, at least to the Whites. Furthermore, many Negroes who do “pass” do so on a temporary basis; that is, many of them are discovered, move to a new cultural setting, and begin the “passing” procedure over again.

It is also true that a great many Negroes who could “pass” do not choose to do so—in some cases because of a genuine pride in their race, and in other cases because they derive more social and economic benefit from being an upper-class Negro than from being a lower-class white. Any attempt to arrive at an accurate figure from U. S. Census figures…

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Modern Love: Navigating New Trenches After a Breakup

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2012-05-20 17:23Z by Steven

Modern Love: Navigating New Trenches After a Breakup

The New York Times


Kate McGovern
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Some years ago, when I was living in Britain, I received an e-mail from a college friend who had recently announced her first pregnancy. “We have become good friends with a black/white couple,” she wrote. “They have a precious baby boy — you and Dan are going to have the cutest kids!”

Yes, Daniel was black and I was white — a British Jamaican and an American half-Jew, respectively — and yes, I suspected that we would have cute kids. But her well-intentioned e-mail made me roll my eyes. It was hard to imagine commenting to a white couple that their future children would be attractive simply because you’d seen some other white parents with a good-looking child.

Now that Daniel and I have broken up, no one tells me how cute my kids are going to be anymore. To be fair, that’s probably because I’m 30 and single again and my friends are trying to be sensitive by not talking about my future children at all. But to me, this is all part of a strange new landscape I am navigating, as I renegotiate both my singleness and my whiteness.

O.K., let’s not mince words. Whiteness is indelible. With and without Daniel, my skin color has allowed me countless minuscule and immense privileges, most of which I don’t even notice unless I choose to.

But when I fell in love with Daniel, my whiteness no longer told the whole story. With Daniel, I was white as ever, but I was also part of a unit that was half white and half black. Coming out of that, I’ve learned, is complicated…

…And for us, race was part and parcel of all of those things. Daniel and I talked about race a lot. Some of our friends, other mixed-race couples, never really acknowledged their differences: they chose the path of “colorblindness,” whatever that means. This approach wasn’t for us. Daniel often joked that if our children came out of the womb without Afros, he was putting them back. His blackness mattered to him and was a source of pride and power; it was a cornerstone of his identity. If I failed to see that, I failed to see him.

When Daniel and I talked about our future, our eventual children were ever-present. Peggy Orenstein once wrote that when she was pregnant, she imagined that as the woman in the relationship, she would be in charge of talking to her daughter about gender, and that her Japanese-American husband, as the person of color, would be in charge of race. She learned that this was not the case: they were both responsible for nurturing their daughter’s gendered and racial identities.

Becoming the kind of white woman who was equipped to do that, who was able to be a valuable partner to a black man and eventually a strong parent to black children, required not only learning how to respond effectively to racial bias, but also learning to accept that my loved ones would inevitably experience the world in ways I’d never fully understand. This was an active, continuing process: love isn’t enough. I was working on it. Working on it became part of who I was…

Read the entire essay here.

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English R1A: Keeping it Real?: Racial & Queer Passing in American Literature

Posted in Course Offerings, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2012-05-20 03:54Z by Steven

English R1A: Keeping it Real?: Racial & Queer Passing in American Literature

University of California, Berkeley
Fall 2010

Rosa Marti­nez

“I had a literature rather than a personality, a set of fictions about myself.”
Kafka Was the Rage by Anatole Broyard

This course intends to explore the “art” of racial passing and masquerade in American literature and culture through a diverse sample of American novels and short stories, such as traditional narratives of black-to-white passing, which is historically prevalent particularly in African-American literature, and other modes of passing, for instance gender and ethnic ambiguity as well as posing and the “closeting” of one’s sexuality. What are the connections or disjunctions between “closeting,” posing, and crossing the gender or color line? By focusing on the trope of the passing figure, we will ask how people and imagined characters negotiate their identity in various and varying social spaces and also, how authors disclose the frailty of social order regarding sexuality, race and the body to make alliances in unimagined ways. Venturing out of the closet as another and as they please, these passing figures are, indeed, queer. Yet what are the personal costs in relinquishing a disfavored identity for a favored one?

This course intends to hone your reading and writing skills, and will focus on helping you make thoughtful questioning and “interesting use of the texts you read in the essays you write.” Through a gradual process of outlining, rewriting and revising, you will produce 32 pages of written work (including brief response papers and three 3-4 page argumentative essays).

Book List

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Naufragios (1542); William and Ellen Craft, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom (1860); Joseph Harris, Rewriting (2006); Nella Larsen, Passing (1929); Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894); a course reader containing critical readings.

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Spinning on Margins: An Analysis of Passing as Communicative Phenomenon

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-05-20 02:34Z by Steven

Spinning on Margins: An Analysis of Passing as Communicative Phenomenon

Queen: a journal of rhetoric and power
Special Issue: Rehtorics of identity: Place, Race, Sex and the Person (January 2005)
From the conference held from 2005-01-20 through 2005-01-22 at the University of Redlands
21 pages

Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Visiting Scholar
Brown University

Acts of black-to-white racial passing in the United States represent a struggle between self-identity and the social structures into which one is born. From a historical perspective, passing is a strategy of representation through which light-skinned black Americans attempt(ed) to reconcile “two unreconciled ideals:” their limited opportunities as black people in a segregated society with their idealized life goals as full American citizens in the pre-civil rights era (DuBois, 1903; Gandy, 1998). In other words, passing is a strategy employed by many light-skinned black Americans to resolve being excluded from the general white world of social activity by “the vast veil;” the physical, legal, psychological, and social obstacles structurally embedded between blacks and whites (DuBois, 1903).

This individual paper employs Structuration Theory, legal precedent, literature and rhetorical analysis to respond to the following specific interrogations: (1) is it possible to develop a vocabulary about “passing,” which is an activity based on nonverbal communication and physicality and enshrouded in a code of silence? And, in a broader sense, (2) how do acts of passing themselves become communicative behaviors that express identity?

This three-pronged analysis of the passing phenomenon will work to call the ideological and epistemological foundations of race itself into question. First, Giddens’s Structuration Theory will explain that passers note a contextual diversity/dissonance at the macro level between the general white world of social activity and the general black world of social activity. Second, a rhetorical analysis of legal precedent will highlight America’s investment in race as the basis for defining and partaking in social and material privileges that become routine and critical aspects of day-to-day life. Court cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, and People v. Dean are pivotal points in tracing whiteness from “color to race to status to property” (Harris, 1993, p. 1714). Additionally, these cases address the debate of social versus legal whiteness as the grounds for constituting full participation in society. Third, available literature, including narratives written by enslaved Africans along with novels, diaries, and memoirs from the Harlem Renaissance, recounts tales of passing and the emotional and social tolls paid in the process (Harris, 1993; Johnson, 1912; Hughes, 1933; Williams, 1991; Ifekwunigwe, 1999). Rhetorical analysis of this literature will uncover the tropes of a vocabulary of passing and reveal race as a “fantasy theme” and social resource that individuals who are not in the mainstream of white America utilize to attain economic, political, and personal fulfillment.

Read the entire article here.

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From The Birth of a Nation to Havoc: The Evolution of Traditional Blackface to Modern Racial Passing in U.S. Cinema

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-05-20 01:19Z by Steven

From The Birth of a Nation to Havoc: The Evolution of Traditional Blackface to Modern Racial Passing in U.S. Cinema

Pennsylvania State University
August 2009
122 pages

Dorian Randall

A Thesis in Media Studies by Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

Race is a complicated and debatable term in the United States today. Film is one venue in which the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of race is challenged, particularly with representations of minstrelsy and episodes of racial passing that also evolve into performance of class distinctions. Through textual and rhetorical analysis, I chronicled the evolution of minstrelsy as a form of racial passing through a cinematic lens and demonstrated how the racial/class performance creates multiracial identity in the films’ characters. The purpose of this research is to add to the continuing analysis and investigation of racial passing and minstrelsy by evaluating the construction of multiracial identity in monoracial characters that perform a race other than their own in the films under analysis. This study also reveals how the definition of race evolved through class performance as race and class are heavily related terms.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Literature Review Part I: A Brief History of Slavery
  • 3. Literature Review Part II: Minstrelsy and Racial Passing
  • 4. Burnt Cork Cinema: From Black and White to Color
  • 5. Fade into White: Passing Films
  • 6. Class Act: Race/Class Films
  • 7. Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Read the entire thesis here.

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Off white

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-05-20 00:23Z by Steven

Off white

The Indian Express
New Delhi, India

Census data confirms America’s enduring ability to bring the world home

The United States has crossed a demographic tipping point, driven by changes in immigration, fertility and mortality patterns. By now, more than half the babies born in the US belong to a racial or ethnic minority. The US Census Bureau has confirmed what was clear ever since the 2000 census, where 49.8 per cent of infants under one were members of a minority — more than a quarter was Hispanic, 13.6 per cent blacks and 4.2 per cent Asian. Almost one in 20 births was a mixed-race baby. Of course, this counting is complicated. For instance, many mixed-race people and Latinos consider themselves white. However, it is clear that the United States of America is set to look markedly different than it did a few decades ago…

Read the entire article here.

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