The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-09-07 20:54Z by Steven

The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation

Harvard University Press
September 2017
256 pages
4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674976528

Stuart Hall (1932–2014), Professor of Sociology
Open University

Edited by:

Kobena Mercer, Professor of History of Art and African American Studies
Yale University

Foreword by:

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor; Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University

In The Fateful Triangle—drawn from lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1994—one of the founding figures of cultural studies reflects on the divisive, often deadly consequences of our contemporary politics of identification. As he untangles the power relations that permeate categories of race, ethnicity, and nationhood, Stuart Hall shows how old hierarchies of human identity in Western culture were forcefully broken apart when oppressed groups introduced new meanings to the representation of difference.

From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the concept of race stressed distinctions of color as fixed and unchangeable. But for Hall, twentieth-century redefinitions of blackness reveal how identities and attitudes can be transformed through the medium of language itself. Like the “badge of color” W. E. B. Du Bois evoked in the anticolonial era, “black” became a sign of solidarity for Caribbean and South Asian migrants who fought discrimination in 1980s Britain. Hall sees such manifestations of “new ethnicities” as grounds for optimism in the face of worldwide fundamentalisms that respond with fear to social change.

Migration was at the heart of Hall’s diagnosis of the global predicaments taking shape around him. Explaining more than two decades ago why migrants are the target of new nationalisms, Hall’s prescient vision helps us to understand today’s crisis of liberal democracy. As he challenges us to find sustainable ways of living with difference, Hall gives us the concept of diaspora as a metaphor with which to enact fresh possibilities for redefining nation, race, and identity in the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • Introduction by Kobena Mercer
  • 1. Race—The Sliding Signifier
  • 2. Ethnicity and Difference in Global Times
  • 3. Nations and Diasporas
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Editor’s Acknowledgments
  • Index
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DNA tests show fallacy of Jim Crow

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-10-20 01:04Z by Steven

DNA tests show fallacy of Jim Crow

The Albuquerque Journal
2014-03-21

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

I am filming guest interviews for Season 2 of the genealogy series “Finding Your Roots,” airing on PBS this September. One of the most intriguing pieces of information shared with our guests is the “admixture” results contained in their DNA – their percentages of European, Native American and sub-Saharan African ancestors over the past 200 years or so.

The record of your ancestral past, in all of its complexity, is hidden in your autosomal DNA.

African-Americans almost always guess that they have much higher percentages of Native American ancestry and much lower percentages of European ancestry than they have. That is not surprising since African-Americans have long embraced the myth that their great-grandmother with “high cheeks and straight black hair” looked that way because of a relationship between an ancestor who was black and another one who was Native American.

But scientific results show that very few African-Americans have a significant amount of Native American ancestry: In fact, according to a study just published by 23andMe researcher Katarzyna “Kasia” Bryc, only about 5 percent of African-Americans have at least 2 percent of Native American ancestry, while the average African-American has only 0.7 percent Native American ancestry…

At the same time, Bryc’s research shows that the average African-American has a whopping 24 percent of European ancestry, which explains why great-grandma had those high cheekbones and that straight black hair.

But what about the presence of recent African ancestors in a “white” person’s family tree?…

Read the entire article here.

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Who Are We, Really?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-10-08 01:05Z by Steven

Who Are We, Really?

View from Rue Saint-Georges
The American Scholar
2016-09-21

Thomas Chatterton Williams


Detail from The Redemption of Ham by Modesto Brocos y Gómez (1895)

Lately, as I’ve been working on my second book, a meditation on the absurdity of sorting human beings into metaphorical color categories, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of passing. In his 1948 autobiography, A Man Called White, the pale-skinned, blond-haired, blue-eyed former NAACP leader, Walter White, observed, “Many Negroes are judged as whites. Every year approximately twelve-thousand white-skinned Negroes disappear—people whose absence cannot be explained by death or emigration.” Or as Henry Louis Gates Jr. has tabulated more recently, “How many ostensibly ‘white’ Americans walking around today would be classified as ‘black’ under the one-drop rule? Judging by the last U.S. Census, 7,872,702. To put that in context, that number is equal to roughly 20 percent, or a fifth, of the total number of people identified as African American in the same census count!”…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial identity: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Anatole Broyard

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-06-19 01:22Z by Steven

Racial identity: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Anatole Broyard

The Globe and Mail
1999-11-23

Robert Fulford

For many years, Anatole Broyard of The New York Times was a dashing figure in literary New York, a critic of exceptional charm and wit. He was said to be one of those people who talk spontaneously in well-shaped and often funny sentences. After his death in 1990, at the age of 70, a friend remarked in an obituary, “When Anatole entered, the room would light up.”

His essays were full of engaging ideas, but it turned out that his life was even more interesting. He had a secret that even his wife wasn’t allowed to mention. As they used to say, he was “passing.”…

Read the entire article here.

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My Ancestor’s Name and Race Changed in Census Records. Why?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-01-05 00:21Z by Steven

My Ancestor’s Name and Race Changed in Census Records. Why?

The Root
2016-01-01

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. University Professor; Director, Hutchins Center for African & African American Research
Harvard University

Anna L. Todd, Researcher
New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), Boston, Massachusetts


1860 U.S. census for Hardy County, Va.
U.S. census

Tracing Your Roots: Antebellum records raise questions about the racial identity and legal status of West Virginia forebears.

Dear Professor Gates:

I recently discovered that I have an ancestor listed as “mulatto” on the 1850 and 1860 census records. Her name is Amelia “Millie/Milly” A. Moreland, born in 1818 in Virginia. She is listed as living with William White Mullin and three children, Richard Winfield Scott Moreland, Anna R.C. Moreland and Mary J.V. Moreland—all children also listed as “mulatto.” By the 1900 census, son Richard changed his surname to Mullin (he was still listed as Moreland/Mooreland on the 1880 census) and was listed as “white.” He is my fourth-great-grandfather. They were located in Hardy County, Va. (now in West Virginia).

These census records are all I can find. I can’t find anything on Milly except her birth year and place, and I’m not sure if she was free or a slave. Can you help me find out more about her, please? —Amber Simmons

It just so happens that three sets of Professor Gates’ fourth-great-grandparents (all free Negroes) lived in Hardy County, Va. (now West Virginia), in the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, many of their descendants continued to live there; in fact, Professor Gates was born in Keyser, W.Va., which is 36 miles from Moorefield, Hardy County’s county seat! So he knows this area very, very well, and finds your question especially intriguing because of this personal connection.

What does a “mulatto” designation mean in the census?

Let’s start with a surprising fact about racial designations and census takers: The status of a person listed in the federal census (black, white or mulatto) was ultimately the personal interpretation of the census taker, based on assumptions made regarding skin color and other aspects of an individual’s appearance, regardless of what the occupant of the home told her or him. Therefore, one can’t necessarily infer parentage, complexion, or much else based on that designation in a census record. However, in this case, it’s an indication that a local person was making a declaration of mixed-race ancestry (either recent or older) in your relative’s family tree…

Read the entire article here.

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Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Biography, Books, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-12-21 01:46Z by Steven

Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness

Northwestern University Press
May 2006
488 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Paper ISBN: ISBN 978-0-8101-1971-0

Edited by:

Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy (1951-2015), Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Russian Literature and Culture
Barnard College
Columbia University, New York, New York

Nicole Svobodny, Assistant Dean, College of Arts & Sciences; Senior Lecturer, International & Area Studies
Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Ludmilla A. Trigo

Foreword by:

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

Roughly in the year 1705, a young African boy, acquired from the seraglio of the Turkish sultan, was transported to Russia as a gift to Peter the Great. This child, later known as Abram Petrovich Gannibal, was to become Peter’s godson and to live to a ripe old age, having attained the rank of general and the status of Russian nobility. More important, he was to become the great-grandfather of Russia’s greatest national poet, Alexander Pushkin. It is the contention of the editors of this book, borne out by the essays in the collection, that Pushkin’s African ancestry has played the role of a “wild card” of sorts as a formative element in Russian cultural mythology; and that the ways in which Gannibal’s legacy has been included in or excluded from Pushkin’s biography over the last two hundred years can serve as a shifting marker of Russia’s self-definition.

The first single volume in English on this rich topic, Under the Sky of My Africa addresses the wide variety of interests implicated in the question of Pushkin’s blackness-race studies, politics, American studies, music, mythopoetic criticism, mainstream Pushkin studies. In essays that are by turns biographical, iconographical, cultural, and sociological in focus, the authors-representing a broad range of disciplines and perspectives-take us from the complex attitudes toward race in Russia during Pushkin’s era to the surge of racism in late Soviet and post-Soviet contemporary Russia. In sum, Under the Sky of My Africa provides a wealth of basic material on the subject as well as a series of provocative readings and interpretations that will influence future considerations of Pushkin and race in Russian culture.

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In other words, Creole can be either black or white, and not necessarily black and white.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-12-14 03:40Z by Steven

Broyard was, according to Henry Louis Gates’s 1996 New Yorker article “The Passing of Anatole Broyard,” some kind of a trickster. The word Creole requires rigorous semantic handling. Just as New Orleans became the home of French, Arcadian, and Haitian refugees, the very word Creole carries an underlying sense of evasion, a connotation of which Broyard clearly took advantage. Broyard’s Creole was an evasion in the same way that “he’d mostly evaded [my italics] the question, saying something vague about ‘island influences’” when Bliss’s mother had once asked her husband about his racial background. The word Creole could have indeed meant “mixed race” for a worldly person like Cheven, but the mixed-race connotation in Creole carries an added value: the mixing of races is not necessarily in a given person, but it can also occur in a given environment between blacks and whites living in the same space and sharing a common history and culture. In other words, Creole can be either black or white, and not necessarily black and white.

Bénédicte Boisseron, Creole Renegades: Rhetoric of Betrayal and Guilt in the Caribbean Diaspora, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014), 31.

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First African-American woman novelist revisited

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-07-23 02:24Z by Steven

First African-American woman novelist revisited

Harvard University Gazette
Cambridge, Massachusetts
2005-03-24

Ken Gewertz, Harvard News Office

Harriet Wilson was a survivor. Now we have proof.

Wilson wrote “Our Nig; or Sketches From the Life of A Free Black,” the earliest known novel by an African-American woman. It tells the story of Frado, a young biracial girl born in freedom in New Hampshire who becomes an indentured servant to a tyrannical and abusive white woman. In 1859, when the book was published, the abolitionist movement had created a vogue among Northern readers for autobiographies of escaped slaves, but Wilson’s story of a free black abused by her Northern employer did not fit the established mold, and the novel soon fell into obscurity.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, found a copy of the novel in a used bookstore in the early 1980s and was intrigued by it. Among those specialists who were aware of the book, many doubted whether it was really the work of a black writer, but Gates wondered why anyone in 1859 would identify herself as black unless she were.

He started searching for evidence of Wilson’s existence and eventually succeeded in documenting her life up to 1863. The facts he uncovered closely resembled the events in the life of the novel’s protagonist. Gates, who published his findings in a 1983 edition of the novel, concluded that Wilson must have died around the time the historical trail went cold.

Now evidence has surfaced showing that Wilson survived almost another 40 years, demonstrating in other areas of endeavor the resilience and creativity that allowed her to try her hand at writing.

P. Gabrielle Foreman, associate professor of English and American Studies at Occidental College in California, and Reginald Pitts, a historical researcher and genealogical consultant, spoke Friday (March 18) about information they have uncovered about the latter half of Wilson’s life. The event was sponsored by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and the Department of African and African American Studies. Foreman and Pitts have incorporated their research into an introduction to a new edition of Wilson’s novel (Penguin Classics, 2005)…

Read the entire article here.

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Episode Six: A More Perfect Union

Posted in Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Videos on 2014-11-09 17:53Z by Steven

Episode Six: A More Perfect Union

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)
Public Broadcasting Service
Tuesdays, 2013-10-22 through 2013-11-26, 20:00-21:00 ET

From Black Power to Black President

By 1968, the Civil Rights movement had achieved stunning victories, in the courts and in the Congress. But would African Americans finally be allowed to achieve genuine racial equality? Episode Six, A More Perfect Union (1968-2013), looks at the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the rise of the Black Panthers and Black Power movement.  The decline of cities that African Americans had settled in since the Great Migration, the growth of a black middle class, the vicious beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles and the ascent of Barack Obama from Illinois senator to the presidency of the United States are all addressed in the final episode of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Revisit images of the Black is Beautiful movement and hear commentary from former Black Panther Party member Kathleen Cleaver, former Secretary of State Colin H. Powell, musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and many more…

For more information, click here.

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Is race genetic?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-10-15 15:28Z by Steven

Is race genetic?

Salon
2014-10-12

Laura Miller

Advances in genealogy and DNA analysis tell surprising and disturbing stories about the heritage we think we know

A bestselling European novelist, while on a recent American book tour, was approached by a woman clutching a manilla folder. “We’re related!” she told him, opening the folder to reveal old black and white photos, documents and a family tree. She pointed to a dour-looking 19th-century lady posing stiffly in a black dress and explained that this was her great-great-grandmother, the novelist’s great-great-great-aunt.

He was kind and patient, but clearly no more than mildly interested in the materials she treasured. Maybe he had more relatives than he knew what to do with back home. Maybe the whole thing was too reminiscent of the years when his homeland was occupied by a foreign power pathologically obsessed with establishing “pure” lineages. Or maybe he just believes in looking forward rather than back. He had, after all, books to sign, cities to visit and even more books to write once he got back, and perhaps defining himself by a future he can shape seems a lot more appealing than dwelling on the past he can’t.

Many Europeans see genealogy as a peculiarly American preoccupation — and of course billions of people in places like China view it merely as a human one, the way we make sense of our place in the world. Christine Kenneally, an Australian journalist and the author of “The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures,” has talked to adherents of both sides and has a lot of ideas about “what gets passed on,” as she puts it. Where Kenneally comes from, the “bad blood” of convicts transported from Britain to the antipodes was once regarded as a cause for shame, something best not talked about by their descendants. No longer: she recalls working on a school project in which her classmates happily dug up convict ancestors to boast about.

A good bit of “The Invisible History of the Human Race” is devoted to defending genealogy and the desire to know one’s lineage. Apparently, many historians look down on the amateur penchant for tracing family trees; it is not research but “mesearch,” too small-picture, too personal to constitute true scholarship. To the layperson, disproving this canard (which Kenneally does neatly) hardly seems a battle that demands to be fought, but when Kenneally takes up the subject of DNA and race, she enters more hotly contested territory. What does it mean to link the slippery concept of race to the scientific study of genetics and the historical facts that constitute an individual’s ancestry?…

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. himself serves as an excellent example. He’s “black,” that is, African-American (as well as a professor of African-American Studies), although the aforementioned DNA analysis revealed that 60 percent of his genetic material is of European origin. Does this make him less black? Not on that infamous evening in 2009, when Gates was arrested by a white police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts while attempting to enter his own house.

Yet what Gates learned about his genetic ancestry did change how he understood his identity, and he would later announce on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that he and the officer who arrested him share a common ancestor in the Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages. That’s the gist of much of the genealogy- and genetics-based programming that Gates has hosted for the Public Broadcasting Service, shows like “African American Lives” and “Finding Your Roots”: We are all more connected than we realize…

Read the entire article here.

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