Review: Atlantic Families, Race, and Empire

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-04-20 00:53Z by Steven

Review: Atlantic Families, Race, and Empire

The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History
2018-04-19

Casey Schmitt, Ph.D. Candidate in early American history
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Daniel Livesay, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2018).

A central thread running through Daniel Livesay’s Children of Uncertain Fortune is deceptively simple: Atlantic families structured the development of ideologies surrounding race in the British empire during the long eighteenth century.1 Woven through the book, however, is a richly nuanced exploration of what terms like Atlantic, family, race, and empire meant and how understandings of those terms changed over a pivotal hundred-year period starting in the 1730s. Through institutional records and family papers produced on both sides of the Atlantic, Livesay identifies 360 mixed-race people from Jamaica and traces the lived experiences of a handful of them as they navigated their social and economic position within transatlantic kin networks. Those individual narratives reveal how Britons experienced empire through family ties in ways that shaped their perceptions of race, colonialism, and belonging…

Read the entire review here.

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A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2018-03-27 02:05Z by Steven

A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica

Yale University Press
2018-08-28
352 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
25 b/w illus.
Hardcover ISBN: 9780300225556

Brooke N. Newman, Associate Professor of History; Associate Director of the Humanities Research Center
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Focusing on Jamaica, Britain’s most valuable colony in the Americas by the mid-eighteenth century, Brooke Newman explores the relationship between racial classifications and the inherited rights and privileges associated with British subject status. Weaving together a diverse range of sources, she shows how colonial racial ideologies rooted in fictions of blood ancestry at once justified permanent, hereditary slavery for Africans and barred members of certain marginalized groups from laying claim to British liberties on the basis of hereditary status.

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Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2018-01-22 01:58Z by Steven

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

University of North Carolina Press
2018-01-22
432 pages
12 halftones, 4 figs., 3 charts, 4 tables, notes, index
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3443-2

Daniel Livesay, Associate Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children of Uncertain Fortune reinterprets the evolution of British racial ideologies as a matter of negotiating family membership. Using wills, legal petitions, family correspondences, and inheritance lawsuits, Daniel Livesay is the first scholar to follow the hundreds of children born to white planters and Caribbean women of color who crossed the ocean for educational opportunities, professional apprenticeships, marriage prospects, or refuge from colonial prejudices.

The presence of these elite children of color in Britain pushed popular opinion in the British Atlantic world toward narrower conceptions of race and kinship. Members of Parliament, colonial assemblymen, merchant kings, and cultural arbiters–the very people who decided Britain’s colonial policies, debated abolition, passed marital laws, and arbitrated inheritance disputes–rubbed shoulders with these mixed-race Caribbean migrants in parlors and sitting rooms. Upper-class Britons also resented colonial transplants and coveted their inheritances; family intimacy gave way to racial exclusion. By the early nineteenth century, relatives had become strangers.

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Becoming Sui Sin Far: Early Fiction, Journalism, and Travel Writing by Edith Maude Eaton

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-09-06 03:43Z by Steven

Becoming Sui Sin Far: Early Fiction, Journalism, and Travel Writing by Edith Maude Eaton

McGill-Queen’s University Press
July 2016
352 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 9780773547223

Edited by:

Mary Chapman, Professor of English
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Newly discovered works by one of the earliest Asian North American writers.

When her 1912 story collection, Mrs. Spring Fragrance, was rescued from obscurity in the 1990s, scholars were quick to celebrate Sui Sin Far as a pioneering chronicler of Asian American Chinatowns. Newly discovered works, however, reveal that Edith Eaton (1865-1914) published on a wide variety of subjects—and under numerous pseudonyms—in Canada and Jamaica for a decade before she began writing Chinatown fiction signed “Sui Sin Far” for US magazines. Born in England to a Chinese mother and a British father, and raised in Montreal, Edith Eaton is a complex transnational writer whose expanded oeuvre demands reconsideration.

Becoming Sui Sin Far collects and contextualizes seventy of Eaton’s early works, most of which have not been republished since they first appeared in turn-of-the-century periodicals. These works of fiction and journalism, in diverse styles and from a variety of perspectives, document Eaton’s early career as a short story writer, “stunt-girl” journalist, ethnographer, political commentator, and travel writer. Showcasing her playful humour, savage wit, and deep sympathy, the texts included in this volume assert a significant place for Eaton in North American literary history. Mary Chapman’s introduction provides an insightful and readable overview of Eaton’s transnational career. The volume also includes an expanded bibliography that lists over two hundred and sixty works attributed to Eaton, a detailed biographical timeline, and a newly discovered interview with Eaton from the year in which she first adopted the orientalist pseudonym for which she is best known.

Becoming Sui Sin Far significantly expands our understanding of the themes and topics that defined Eaton’s oeuvre and will interest scholars and students of Canadian, American, Asian North American, and ethnic literatures and history.

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Privileging Kinship: Family and Race in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery on 2017-05-12 02:36Z by Steven

Privileging Kinship: Family and Race in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 14, Number 4, Fall 2016
pages 688-711
DOI: 10.1353/eam.2016.0025

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

During the long eighteenth century, elite free people of color in Jamaica petitioned the government for exemptions to some of the island’s laws against those with African ancestry. In making these appeals, they highlighted advanced social and financial positions that put them above the average Jamaican of color. But perhaps most important, these petitions noted familial relations to white men on the island. These kinship connections were central in determining if a free person of color was deserving enough to receive “privileged” rights. In bestowing these privileges, Jamaican officials demonstrated that one’s racial status on the island was determined, in part, by familial linkages to white colonists. Although only a fraction of mixed-race Jamaicans gained these legal exemptions, the practice nevertheless reveals how important family relation was in constructing racial identities, even in a place built on racialized oppression and slavery.

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Interview with Shirley Tate

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2017-04-30 01:42Z by Steven

Interview with Shirley Tate

Times Higher Education
2017-04-27

John Elmes, Reporter


Source: Kiran Mehta

We discuss realising what it means to be black in the UK, dealing with insomnia, and institutional racism in the academy, with the renowned race and black identity scholar

Shirley Tate is a cultural sociologist and researcher in the areas of institutional racism and black identity. Previously an associate professor in race and culture at the University of Leeds, she took up a new role as professor of race and education – the first of its kind in the UK – at Leeds Beckett University in April.

Where and when were you born?
In Spanish Town, Saint Catherine, Jamaica, in March 1956.

How has this shaped you?
I was brought up in Sligoville, which was the first free village in Jamaica set up after the enslaved population were granted full freedom in 1838. Being a black African-descent Jamaican is still pivotal to me in terms of how I identify as a person. I was very fortunate to be brought up there at a time of independence, Black Power, a resurgence of Rastafarianism and, with it, Garveyism. It was during this time that my cousin gave me a copy of Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks. I always look back at this as a really important moment in my coming to awareness as black and Caribbean because it helped me to understand how colonialism continued to work in the Western hemisphere for black people, people of colour and white people. Jamaica became independent from the British Empire in 1962, so I was British for five and a half years, then became Jamaican and then became a naturalised British citizen in the 1980s. I left Jamaica in 1975 for the UK, which was a very difficult transition. For the first time, I really realised what it meant to be a black person in a white country. I was really taken aback the first time that I was asked, by a seven-year-old mixed-race girl, whether I was “half or full”, meaning was I mixed race or not. For her, that was an important way to judge whether she had a connection with me. I was also asked by my boss, in the first job I had in the UK, where I had learned to speak and write such good English and was “complimented” by being told that I didn’t sound at all Jamaican. I cling to my Jamaican accent with a vengeance, so I didn’t feel the compliment…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Black/White Color Spectrum

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2017-04-07 01:38Z by Steven

The Black/White Color Spectrum

Small Axe
Volume 21, Number 1, March 2017 (No. 52)
pages 143-152

Sandra Stephens

The artist reflects on her place within the black/white color spectrum in Jamaica and the United States and looks at how she addresses both whiteness and blackness within her work. Using her piece Face of the Enemy, on the Japanese Internment, from her solo show Rationalize and Perpetuate, and her video installations Snow White Remixed and Purity, Sanctity, and Corporeality, she reflects on how race and gender are much more open in the lives of children; the questioning of the idea of “purity” and its relationship to whiteness; and visual culture and its effects on identity. She also looks at her interest in video installations and how this visual space and language challenges the audience to connect in a deeper sense to the other.

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Meet the black Americans going home to China

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2016-12-27 15:28Z by Steven

Meet the black Americans going home to China

Cable News Network (CNN)
2016-12-27

Yazhou Sun, Producer
CNN International

Paula Madison grew up knowing she was different.

Born in the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Harlem, New York, she was raised by a single mother who looked Chinese.

“When my mother opened the door and told me that dinner is ready, other kids would be very surprised,” Paula says. “Sometimes, they’d start using racial slurs.”

Madison’s father was African-Jamaican and left her mother when she was three.

“My mother always looked sad because she was away from her family,” she says. “I’ve known for my whole life that my grandfather is Chinese. I thought helping my mother find her family would make her happy.”

Paula knew that her grandfather had gone to Jamaica from China in 1905 to work on a sugar plantation and after his contract was fulfilled, he stayed in Jamaica to open a store.

She was determined to find out which village he came from and if he had any living relatives in China, but the only clue she had was her grandfather’s name: Samuel Lowe…

Read the entire article here.

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No Telephone to Heaven

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Novels, United Kingdom, United States on 2016-06-23 23:51Z by Steven

No Telephone to Heaven

Plume
March 1996 (Originally published in 1987)
224 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780452275690

Michelle Cliff (1946-2016)

A brilliant Jamaican-American writer takes on the themes of colonialism, race, myth, and political awakening through the experiences of a light-skinned woman named Clare Savage. The story is one of discovery as Clare moves through a variety of settings – Jamaica, England, America – and encounters people who affect her search for place and self.

The structure of No Telephone to Heaven combines naturalism and lyricism, and traverses space and time, dream and reality, myth and history, reflecting the fragmentation of the protagonist, who nonetheless seeks wholeness and connection. In this deeply poetic novel there exist several levels: the world Clare encounters, and a world of which she only gradually becomes aware – a world of extreme poverty, the real Jamaica, not the Jamaica of the middle class, not the Jamaica of the tourist. And Jamaica – almost a character in the book – is described in terms of extraordinary beauty, coexisting with deep human tragedy.

The violence that rises out of extreme oppression, the divided loyalties of a colonized person, sexual dividedness, and the dividedness of a person neither white nor black – all of these are truths that Clare must face. Overarching all the themes in this exceptionally fine novel is the need to become whole, and the decisions and the courage demanded to achieve that wholeness.

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Journey into Speech-A Writer between Two Worlds: An Interview with Michelle Cliff

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-06-23 23:33Z by Steven

Journey into Speech-A Writer between Two Worlds: An Interview with Michelle Cliff

African American Review
Volume 28, Number 2, Black Women’s Culture Issue (Summer, 1994)
pages 273-281
DOI: 10.2307/3041999

Opal Palmer Adisa, Professor of Creative Writing
California College of the Arts

Among the subjects Jamaican born writer Michelle Cliff explores in her writings are ancestry, the impact of colonization on the Caribbean, the relationships among and interconnection of African people in the diaspora, racism, and the often erroneous way in which the history of black people is recorded. In her latest novel, Free Enterprise (1993), Cliff attempt: to rewrite the story of Mary Ellen Pleasant, the African American woman who supplied money with which John Brown bought arms for the raid at Harper’s Ferry. Her other two novels, No Telephone to Heaven (1987) and Abeng (1984), are semi-autobiographical and explore the life of Clare Savage, fair-skinned girl raised between Jamaica and North America, who must reconcile her mixed heritage in a changing society. Other works by Cliff include Bodies of Water (1990), The Land of Look Behind (1985), and Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise (1980).

The following text is based on two separate interviews: one done in person in Albany, California, in December 1989, and the other conducted over the telephone in September 1993.

Adlsa: When did you find your voice, when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Cliff: I always wanted to write. Actually there was a terrible incident. I don’t know if I should tell you, but I will. When I was at Saint Andrews I was keeping a diary. I had been very influenced by The Diary of Anne Frank, and as a result of seeing the movie and reading her diary, I got a diary of my own. I wasn’t living with my mother and father at this time; I was living with my aunt in Kingston [Jamaica] and going to Saint Andrews. This aunt also had a house in Saint Ann, where we used to stay on the weekends. Anyway, my parents broke into my bedroom in Kingston when we were not at the house. They went into my room, broke open my drawer, took out and broke the lock on my diary, and read it. Then they arrived at the other house. My father and mother had my diary in their hands and sat down and read it out loud in front of me, my aunt, and everybody else. My sister was there. There were very intimate details; there were a lot of things about leaving school and not going to class and playing hookey, but there was also the experience of the first time I menstruated, and I remember just being shattered. My father read it, and my mother was in total collaboration. (Pause.) Anyway I remember just crying and being sad and whatnot. I spoke to my sister about it once, and she remembered, even though she was seven at the time. And she said, “Don’t you remember screaming and saying, ‘Don’t I have any rights?'”…

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