The Fiction of Race

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2019-08-30 16:15Z by Steven

The Fiction of Race

The American Scholar
2019-08-07

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Flickr/lyonora
Flickr/lyonora

When will we recognize it as such?

Almost every summer, my wife and I, now with two kids in tow, spend a couple of weeks in Italy. We first fell in love with the Ligurian coast just beyond France and Monaco, then with the Tuscan countryside around Florence, and for the past several summers, the islands off Naples. This year, we went farther south, into the instep of the boot, and are staying at a family-run agriturismo on the Mediterranean coast of Calabria. Along with several other friends, my brother and his blond-haired, tan-skinned half-Russian five-year-old daughter have joined us. This morning, the two of us drove into the small seaside village down the hill from where we’re staying to pick up some pizzas. I went inside and fumbled my way through the somewhat complicated order that demanded anchovies, artichokes, and for one picky eater, a tomato-less pizza…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

New documentary ‘Being Both’ explores mixed-race identity

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Mexico, United Kingdom on 2019-04-29 16:24Z by Steven

New documentary ‘Being Both’ explores mixed-race identity

METRO.co.uk
2019-04-29

Natalie Morris, Senior lifestyle Writer

The UK’s fastest-growing ethnic group is comprised of anyone with parents who have two of more different ethnicities – and the varieties within that group are almost endless.

The realities of being mixed-race are unique and often overlooked in mainstream narratives, but documentary maker Ryan Cooper-Brown wants to change that. His new short documentary film Being Both tackles issues that directly relate to the mixed-race experience, from displacement and family conflict to racism and fetishisation.

But the film is also brimming with hope and shines a light on the many positives that come with having mixed heritage.

The eight-minute film condenses a series of compelling stories from the mixed-race community. It is an intimate and uplifting short that captures the shared challenges, emotions and histories of mixed-race people from the UK, Denmark, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Japan

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

“Blood is Thicker than Water”: The Materialization of the Racial Body in Fascist East Africa

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive on 2018-06-21 16:20Z by Steven

“Blood is Thicker than Water”: The Materialization of the Racial Body in Fascist East Africa

Zapruder World: An International Journal for the History of Social Conflict
“Performing Race,” Volume 4 (2017)

Angelica Pesarini, Social and Cultural Analysis, Faculty Member
New York University

Introduction

One of the major issues with the perception of “race” in modern Italy refers to what Alessandro Portelli defines as Italians’ “self-reflexive colour blindness.”1 What occurs in Italy is not simply a denial of race. Rather than seeing themselves as “White,” according to Portelli, Italians see themselves as “normal.” As a result, because colour is unspoken and not openly mentioned, it is believed that Italians are immune from racism. Such a structural colour-blindness, however, is problematic because it associates Whiteness with normality and, consequently, with Italianness.2 Simply put, to be Italian is to be White. Within this discourse, those who do not fit the alleged (White) Italian type are deemed outside the Nation on a number of levels.3

In order to understand and unpack such dynamics it is necessary to consider the category of “race” and the influence this had on the construction of Italian national identity. If “race” is a social construct devoid of scientific validity, it still retains enormous power in the modern world. In the case of Italy, the racial construction of national identity shows a complex ambivalence embedded in discursive practices revolving around an ambiguous production of both Whiteness and Blackness. Such an ambiguity, as highlighted by Tatiana Petrovich Njegosh stems from Italians’ liminal double racial status as racialisers (of Jews, southerner Italians and Africans) and racialised subjects in the U.S. and Australia.4 As a result, “race” in Italy today seems to be located within the interstices of a polarised discourse based on notions of “unspoken Whiteness”5 able to visually recognise “Italians” from “Others,” namely those called stranieri (foreigners), extracomunitari (a term used to define migrants coming from outside the EU) and the new “migranti” category (broadly used to address African migrants crossing the Mediterranean). Although colour is not openly named, meaningful biological connotations based on phenotypic features located on the body are at the core of Italian national identity. It is important to notice that such a disjunction does not work merely at a visual level. The racialisation of national identity, in fact, transversally affects Italian society and the everyday life of racialised subjects extending from education to housing, labour rights, work opportunities, political participation, health, personal safety, and legal discourse too, as discussed in this paper.

Drawing on ideas of performativity as applied to race, this essay illustrates some of the reasons why in contemporary Italy the idea of Blackness associated with Italianness still appears, to some, an impossible semantic match, an irreconcilable paradox. Owing to the interdependence of colonialism, ideas of “race” and “mixed race,” and the normative construction of Whiteness in relation to national identity, it seems necessary to investigate the nexus of race, gender and citizenship, through a performative lens. In order to do so, I focus on a series of laws and decrees passed during the Liberal and Fascist periods. These include the Codice Civile per la Colonia Eritrea (Colonial Civil Code for the Colony of Eritrea) of 1909, Law 999 of 1933, introduced to regulate the legal identity of “mixed race” children born in the former Italian colonies in East-Africa, and the racial laws enacted between 1937 and 1940. The investigation of these pieces of legislation is useful to highlight not only the influence that Liberal norms had on the promulgations of Fascist racial laws, but also how Italian citizenship, today, is still rooted in the idea of an alleged “racial citizen.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

“Brown Babies” in Postwar Europe: The Italian Case

Posted in Europe, History, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations on 2017-04-30 02:29Z by Steven

“Brown Babies” in Postwar Europe: The Italian Case

Max Weber Lecture No. 2016/03
European University Institute
2016
12 pages

Silvana Patriarca, Professor of History
Fordham University, New York, New York

The paper addresses the issue of the persistence of the idea of race in its close intersection with ideas of national identities in post-1945 Europe, by looking at the racialization of the children of European women and non-white Allied soldiers born on the continent during and right after the war. The case of Italy is closely examined through a variety of sources, some of which have only recently become available. Similarly to what happened in Great Britain and Germany, in Italy these children were considered a “problem” in spite of their small numbers. Because of their origin, but especially because of the color of their skin, they were often portrayed as alien to the (white) nation. Fantasies concerning their disappearance paralleled the elaboration of plans for their transfer to non-European countries. Italy, however, had its own specificity, namely the extensive role of the Catholic Church and more generally of the Catholic world in the “managing” of these children, as well as in shaping the self-representation of post-fascist Italy as a non-racist country. In fact Catholic racial paternalism was pervasive and underwrote the support that prominent Catholic figures gave to Italy’s attempt to hold on to the old colonies in the aftermath of the war.

Read the entire paper here.

Tags: ,

Documentary About Black Italian Boxer Who Angered Mussolini Makes Splash

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2017-03-24 15:27Z by Steven

Documentary About Black Italian Boxer Who Angered Mussolini Makes Splash

Variety
2017-03-21

Nick Vivarelli, International Correspondent


Courtesy Istituto Luce

ROME – As Europe’s neo-fascists re-emerge and right-wing populism sweeps through the West, a documentary about a black Italian boxer who discredited Benito Mussolini’s racist ideology by winning a European boxing title is making a splash in Italy and abroad.

“The Duce’s Boxer” tells the story of Leone Jacovacci, an African Italian born in the Congo who won the 1928 European middleweight title by beating Mario Bosisio a white Italian boxer favored by the country’s Fascist leaders, in front of 40,000 fans in Rome’s National Stadium.

An infuriated Mussolini then ordered Jacovacci and his achievement erased from Italy’s history books. But 89 years later, Jacovacci’s story has resurfaced, with “The Duce’s Boxer” premiering Tuesday in 25 Italian cities to mark the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Based on the book “Black Roman” by Italian sociologist Mauro Valeri, a former head of the country’s National Xenophobia Observatory, “The Duce’s Boxer” is directed by first-timer Tony Saccucci

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Teaser: Documentary on Leone Jacovacci – 1920s Black Italian Boxer Who “Took a Swing at Fascism”

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, Videos on 2017-03-13 15:34Z by Steven

Teaser: Documentary on Leone Jacovacci – 1920s Black Italian Boxer Who “Took a Swing at Fascism”

Shadow and Act: On Film, Television and Web Contents of Africa and Its Diaspora
2017-03-12


Leone Jacovacci

Leone Jacovacci (a.k.a. John Douglas Walker and Jack Walker) was born in 1902 in the village of Pombo in the then Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), the son of an Italian man and a Congolese woman. He was raised in Italy which was rough for him, given that he was bi-racial, and as a result, in his late teens, found himself in England where he reinvented himself as John Douglas Walker, added a couple of years to his age, and enlisted in the 53rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment of the British Army.

After being discharged, he took up amateur boxing and was mostly successful, bouncing between England and France, racking up victories. In 1922 he returned to Italy, pretending to be an American named Jack Walker until he found it too burdensome to maintain the fake persona (he occasionally slipped and spoke fluent Italian). His surprising confession in 1925 that he was Italian presented complications in a nation that was then ruled by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party

Read the entire article and watch the trailer here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Black Prince of Florence: A Medici Mystery

Posted in Biography, Europe, Live Events, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-10-02 20:52Z by Steven

The Black Prince of Florence: A Medici Mystery

University of York
Room K/133, King’s Manor
York, United Kingdom
Tuesday, 2016-10-18, 19:00 BST (Local Time)

Black History Month Lecture

Catherine Fletcher is a historian of Renaissance and early modern Europe. Her first book, The Divorce of Henry VIII, was published in 2012 and brought to life the world of the papal court at the time of the Tudors. She broadcasts frequently on Renaissance and broader history: She is a 2015 BBC New Generation Thinker and was an adviser to the set team on the TV adaptation of Wolf Hall. She is currently Associate Professor in History and Heritage at Swansea University, has held fellowships at the British School at Rome and the European University Institute, and has taught at Royal Holloway, Durham and Sheffield Universities. In her previous career she worked in politics and the media, including at the BBC Political Unit.

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , , ,

A look at historical multiracial families through the House of Medici

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2016-09-04 22:11Z by Steven

A look at historical multiracial families through the House of Medici

OUPblog: Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World
2016-09-04

Catherine Fletcher

Catherine Fletcher is author of The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici.

The Medici, rulers of Renaissance Florence, are not the most obvious example of a multiracial family. They’ve always been part of the historical canon of “western civilization,” the world of dead white men. Perhaps we should think again. A tradition dating back to the sixteenth century suggests that Alessandro de’ Medici, an illegitimate child of the Florentine banking family who in 1532 became duke of Florence, was the son of an Afro-European woman. Sometimes called Simunetta, she may have been a slave in the household of his grandmother Alfonsina Orsini de’ Medici. The historical sources are elusive, but by pursuing them we can learn much about the history of race.

It’s easy to get the impression that mixed-race families are a new phenomenon. Pew Research Center reported last year that 6.9% of US adults are multiracial, and that the numbers are growing. In Britain the numbers are also growing, though smaller overall (2%) and one in 10 UK couples is of mixed ethnicity.*

Historical and archaeological research, however, shows that mixed-race families have been around very much longer…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-09-04 20:45Z by Steven

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Oxford University Press
2016-09-01
336 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780190612726

Catherine Fletcher, Historian, Author, AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2015

  • The first-ever biography of Alessandro de’ Medici, arguably the first black head of state
  • Draws on extensive archival research of first-hand sources
  • An accessible and dramatic retelling of Renaissance politics and rivalry

Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de’ Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world. Born out of wedlock to a dark-skinned maid and Lorenzo de’ Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When Alessandro’s noble father died of syphilis, the family looked to him. Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage. By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance.

Alessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence’s oligarchs, who called him a womanizer-which he undoubtedly was—and a tyrant. Yet this real-life counterpart to Machiavelli’s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age of 26 during a late-night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins. After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic. For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of Florence.

Catherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro’s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries-old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top. Drawing on new research and first-hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today.

Table of Contents

  • Family tree
  • Glossary of names
  • Timeline
  • Maps
  • A note on money
  • Prologue
  • Book One: The Bastard Son
  • Book Two: The Obedient Nephew
  • Book Three: The Prince Alone
  • Afterword: Alessandro’s Ethnicity
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Index
Tags: , , , ,

Africans in Medieval & Renaissance Art: Duke Alessandro de’ Medici

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-07-02 19:18Z by Steven

Africans in Medieval & Renaissance Art: Duke Alessandro de’ Medici

Victoria and Albert Museum
London, England, United Kingdom


Portrait of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici, after Jacopo da Pontormo, Florence, Italy, about 1550. Museum no. CAI.171. Ionides Bequest

Both of the objects highlighted here feature Alessandro de’ Medici (1511-37), the first Duke of Florence. It is thought that Alessandro’s mother was a Moorish slave.

The Medici, an Italian family of merchants, bankers, rulers, patrons and collectors, dominated the political and cultural life of Florence from the 15th century to the mid 18th century. They were expelled from Florence in 1494-1512 and 1527-30. In 1530, after a long and bitter siege, the army of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V conquered the city and backed the installment of Alessandro de’ Medici as the first Duke of Florence. Alessandro’s reign ended in 1537, when he was assassinated by his cousin and rival Lorenzino de’ Medici. As he had no children with his wife (Margaret of Austria, illegitimate daughter of the emperor Charles V), and his illegitimate son Giulio was only four years old, Alessandro was succeeded by a member of another branch of the Medici family, Cosimo I.

Officially, Alessandro was the illegitimate son of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino (1492-1519), but it was rumoured that Lorenzo’s cousin Giulio (later Pope Clement VII), had fathered him. Alessandro’s mother, Simonetta, was allegedly a Moorish slave who had worked in the household of Lorenzo and his parents during their exile in Rome

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,