Storytelling matters to Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-02-21 23:17Z by Steven

Storytelling matters to Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs

Stanford News
Stanford University, Stanford, California

Kate Chesley, Associate Director of University Communications

Allyson Hobbs and her award-winning book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life

ALLYSON HOBBS, assistant professor of American history, finds much of the inspiration for her research in the stories of her own remarkable family. Telling those stories – and connecting them with larger themes in U.S. history – is one of the things that matters most to her.

Hobbs was the featured speaker recently at the popular “What Matters to Me and Why” noontime discussion series, sponsored by the Office for Religious Life. The series asks members of the Stanford community to reflect on matters of personal values and beliefs.

Hobbs is the author of A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, published by Harvard University Press in 2014. The book, which won the 2015 Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American history and the 2015 Lawrence Levine Prize for best book in American cultural history, was inspired by a story Hobbs’ beloved aunt told her about a distant cousin.

That cousin, Hobbs told the audience, was born on the South Side of Chicago in the 1920s. Light skinned, the cousin was forced by her mother to leave her home and pass for white in Los Angeles. Hobbs told the heartbreaking story of how the cousin, married to a white man and raising children who were unaware of their mother’s heritage, was unable to return to Chicago to see her dying father lest her secret be revealed…

Read the entire article here.

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