Immigration, Passing, and the Racial Other in Neo-Victorian Imperialist Fiction: The Case of Carnival Row (2019–)

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2021-10-21 14:20Z by Steven

Immigration, Passing, and the Racial Other in Neo-Victorian Imperialist Fiction: The Case of Carnival Row (2019–)

Adaptation
Published 2021-10-07
DOI: 10.1093/adaptation/apab018

Dina Pedro, Ph.D. candidate
Department of English and German, School of Philology, Translation and Communication
Universitat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain

In this article, I provide a close reading of Season 1 of the neo-Victorian TV series Carnival Row as both an ambivalent postcolonial and neo-passing narrative. I first draw on previous criticism on postcolonial neo-Victorianism and turn-of-the-century American passing novels in order to analyze Carnival Row’s contradictory revision of imperial London through its re-imagining in a fictional city named The Burgue. I then explore the conflicting ways in which the series tackles (neo-)imperialism and colonialization, as it simultaneously criticizes and reproduces imperial ideologies and stereotypes of the racial Other. Finally, I argue that Carnival Row seems to offer a new take on American passing novels by allowing Philo, the mixed-race male protagonist, to embrace his biracial nature without meeting a tragic fate at the end of Season 1. Nonetheless, by choosing a White actor (Orlando Bloom) to play the role of the passer, the series culturally appropriates a form of Black oppression for the entertainment of a White audience. Thus, despite the series’ well-intentioned attempts to criticize (neo-)imperial, racist, and xenophobic practices, it ultimately perpetuates—rather than subverts—those very same ideologies.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multi-Racial Jewish Family

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-07 15:45Z by Steven

Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multi-Racial Jewish Family

Oxford University Press
2021-08-30
320 Pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780197530474

Laura Arnold Leibman, Professor of English and Humanities
Reed College, Portland, Oregon

Highlights

  • Provides a rare historical portrait of life as a Jewish American of color
  • Examines the history of racial “passing” in an international context
  • Uses an intersectional lens to untangle a family history

An obsessive genealogist and descendent of one of the most prominent Jewish families since the American Revolution, Blanche Moses firmly believed her maternal ancestors were Sephardic grandees. Yet she found herself at a dead end when it came to her grandmother’s maternal line. Using family heirlooms to unlock the mystery of Moses’s ancestors, Once We Were Slaves overturns the reclusive heiress’s assumptions about her family history to reveal that her grandmother and great-uncle, Sarah and Isaac Brandon, actually began their lives as poor Christian slaves in Barbados. Tracing the siblings’ extraordinary journey throughout the Atlantic World, Leibman examines artifacts they left behind in Barbados, Suriname, London, Philadelphia, and, finally, New York, to show how Sarah and Isaac were able to transform themselves and their lives, becoming free, wealthy, Jewish, and–at times–white. While their affluence made them unusual, their story mirrors that of the largely forgotten population of mixed African and Jewish ancestry that constituted as much as ten percent of the Jewish communities in which the siblings lived, and sheds new light on the fluidity of race–as well as on the role of religion in racial shift–in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Table of Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Origins (Bridgetown, 1793-1798)
  • Chapter 2: From Slave to Free (Bridgetown, 1801)
  • Chapter 3: From Christian to Jew (Suriname, 1811-12)
  • Chapter 4: The Tumultuous Island (Bridgetown, 1812-1817)
  • Chapter 5: Synagogue Seats (New York & Philadelphia, 1793-1818)
  • Chapter 6: The Material of Race (London, 1815-17)
  • Chapter 7: Voices of Rebellion (Bridgetown, 1818-24)
  • Chapter 8: A Woman Valor (New York, 1817-19)
  • Chapter 9: This Liberal City (Philadelphia, 1818-33)
  • Chapter 10: Feverish Love (New York, 1819-1830)
  • Chapter 11: When I am Gone (New York, Barbados, London, 1830-1847)
  • Chapter 12: Legacies (New York and Beyond, 1841-1860)
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix: Family Trees
  • Abbreviations
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
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Bernardine Evaristo on a childhood shaped by racism: ‘I was never going to give up’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2021-09-28 01:40Z by Steven

Bernardine Evaristo on a childhood shaped by racism: ‘I was never going to give up’

The Guardian
2021-09-25

Bernardine Evaristo


Bernardine Evaristo: ‘I liked the same music as my little white pals, ate the same food, had the same feelings – human ones.’ Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Observer

My creativity can be traced back to my heritage, to the skin colour that defined how I was perceived. But, like my ancestors, I wouldn’t accept defeat

When I won the Booker prize in 2019 for my novel Girl, Woman, Other, I became an “overnight success”, after 40 years working professionally in the arts. My career hadn’t been without its achievements and recognition, but I wasn’t widely known. The novel received the kind of attention I had long desired for my work. In countless interviews, I found myself discussing my route to reaching this high point after so long. I reflected that my creativity could be traced back to my early years, cultural background and the influences that have shaped my life. Not least, my heritage and childhood

Through my father, a Nigerian immigrant who had sailed into the Motherland on the “Good Ship Empire” in 1949, I inherited a skin colour that defined how I was perceived in the country into which I was born, that is, as a foreigner, outsider, alien. I was born in 1959 in Eltham and raised in Woolwich, both in south London. Back then, it was still legal to discriminate against people based on the colour of their skin, and it would be many years before the Race Relations Acts (1965 and 1968) enshrined the full scope of anti-racist doctrine into British law.

My English mother met my father at a Commonwealth dance in central London in 1954. She was studying to be a teacher at a Catholic teacher-training college run by nuns in Kensington; he was training to be a welder. They married and had eight children in 10 years. Growing up, I was labelled “half-caste”, the term for biracial people at that time…

Read the entire article here.

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‘The Other Windrush’: the hidden history of Afro-Chinese families in 1950s London

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2021-07-09 02:19Z by Steven

‘The Other Windrush’: the hidden history of Afro-Chinese families in 1950s London

gal-dem
2021-06-30

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural History
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York


image credit: Tao Leigh Goffe/Canva

In this extract from ‘The Other Windrush‘, writer Tao Leigh Goffe explores the history of relative Hyacinth Lee, who migrated to the UK from Jamaica.

Family history is colonial history. How, then, to understand the vernacular photographic record and what is missing about the Windrush era, itself already an omission from British history? Since the inception of the technology of photography in the 1840s, the family photo album as an heirloom to be passed down, vertically, has formed the flesh of blood relation. The family album is also a literary surface inscribed with multiple meanings about race, gender, sexuality, class and who does not belong in the family tree. The visuality of collected images forms the fleshy proof of a seemingly biological argument for bourgeois belonging and familial intimacy. Blood is proof of kinship; the family portrait is flesh, and often colonial belonging.

Because family history is inevitably colonial history, I am invested in what and who is left out of the family album and outside of colonial history. Of particular (and selfish) interest to me is the impossibility of subjects of African and Chinese heritage. Photographs of Afro-Chinese families pose a challenge to the British colonial Trinidad experiment that wished to introduce Chinese labour to the Caribbean plantation to replace Africans in the early nineteenth century.

The ‘experiment’ documented in a secret Parliamentary Papers memorandum predicted the races would not mix. African and Asian people did, of course, ‘mix’; and many subsequent channels of migration were formed from Africa meeting Asia (both China and India) in the Caribbean. Where do we see these descendants present in the routes of the Windrush generation?…

Read the entire article here.

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‘What a Barrister Looks Like’: A Young Black Woman Paves the Way

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Justice, United Kingdom, Women on 2020-11-01 01:35Z by Steven

‘What a Barrister Looks Like’: A Young Black Woman Paves the Way

The New York Times
2020-10-30

Megan Specia


Alexandra Wilson at her offices in London. “My ability is underestimated, quite a lot,” she said. Amara Eno for The New York Times

Alexandra Wilson is working to change England’s legal establishment, and perceptions about who belongs in it, from the inside.

LONDON — It was looking like a typical day at the office for Alexandra Wilson as she arrived at a London courthouse ready to defend someone accused of theft.

She tied her hair into a neat knot, shrugged on her black robe and pulled on a white horsehair wig — the official garb of Britain’s barristers, the lawyers who argue most cases in court.

But once she was in the courtroom, things went off script. In a patronizing exchange that was rude at best and hostile at worst, the prosecutor, an older white man, scoffed at Ms. Wilson, chided her for speaking with her client and tutted at her requests for details on court documents.

Unfortunately, it was an all too typical day for Ms. Wilson in a profession where, as a young Black woman, she often finds herself fighting for recognition and respect…

…As the 25-year-old daughter of a Black Caribbean father and white British mother from working-class roots, she is still a rarity in the cavernous halls of England’s courts.

Her unabashed observations about race and class have drawn a following of thousands on Twitter, inspired a book about her experiences and driven her to found a community for Black women in the legal professions. Just over a year into her career, she’s only getting started…

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‘My mum calls me the N-word’ – the reality of growing up mixed race with a racist parent

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2020-09-11 01:19Z by Steven

‘My mum calls me the N-word’ – the reality of growing up mixed race with a racist parent

gal-dem
2020-09-05

Emma

Being a person of colour with a white parent who holds racist views is more common than you might think. Emma explores the emotional trauma of being brought up in a racist home.

A few days after the tragic death of George Floyd, when Americans took to the streets in righteous anger, my dad condemned the protests, remarking that Black people should be less afraid of the police and more so of “blacks with guns in inner cities”. Unsurprisingly, this unsavoury conversation escalated. My dad, as you might guess, is white, but I am not. Not for the first time, I was left wondering how, as a mixed race Black woman with a socially conservative white father, I reconcile with the fact that my dad might be racist?

The current racial climate has led to many people having difficult conversations about race with their families, often for the first time. Social media has been awash with handy tips and tricks for instigating conversations with uninformed family members. Instagram swipe-through posts with titles like “How to tell someone you love that they’re being racist” and “Nine counter-arguments to use against your conservative parents” ad infinitum have proliferated.

This is all well and good for white people. But what happens when the white parent in question has a Black child? Mixed race families are sometimes heralded as the ultimate antidote to racism, and a signifier of racial progress – but the reality is often far more complex. Family setups like mine are often difficult to navigate and can produce emotionally challenging situations. While the sense of urgency and pressure to educate friends and family generated by the Black Lives Matter movement is incredibly important, it can put mixed race people in an uncomfortable position. How do you balance the obligation to educate a white parent who holds racist views while protecting your own mental health?…

Read the entire article here.

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The difficulty with asserting your beauty identity when you’re mixed race

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-11-19 02:55Z by Steven

The difficulty with asserting your beauty identity when you’re mixed race

Dazed Beauty
2019-11-05

Layla Haidrani
London, United Kingdom

Rachel Rumai
©Rachel Rumai

We explore the confusion of navigating your personal identity when you have multiple heritages with conflicting beauty standards

I’ve grappled with the complex relationship between mixed race identity and beauty for a long time. Both my location and my heritage – I’m half-Lebanese, half-Pakistani – upheld beauty ideals that were at odds with each other. Looking too overdone would court much derision growing up in North London, but this minimalist approach conflicted greatly with Beirut’s – a city I spent most summers a teenager where ‘more is more’ is the unofficial beauty mantra. Once the plastic surgery capital of the Middle East, appearing permanently preened and polished with a face full of make-up isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected – even if you’re simply loitering in a shopping mall.

I’d never seen myself reflected in advertisements in the Middle East, where heavily groomed women subscribe to traditionally narrow ideas of femininity – carefully sculpted arched eyebrows, immaculate nails, hairless body, paired with long, sleek black hair – but that didn’t stop me from trying. In the lead-up to visiting for my holiday, I’d spend hours in beauty salons having head-to-toe treatments including a manicure and pedicure, eyebrow shaping, and a full-body wax. It wasn’t unusual for me to have an entirely separate make-up bag bursting with products. It was trickier when I factored in my Pakistani roots and when I spent time with my Desi London-based friends, I’d deliberately kohl my eyes and straighten my hair so our differences wouldn’t be glaringly obvious.

The fluidity of my beauty regime, which shifted according to the spaces I inhabited and the people I was surrounded by, felt stifling, as if there was only one ‘right’ way to look. This would be further exacerbated by Instagram, where I’d be confronted with dozens of images of what a ‘normal’ Lebanese or Pakistani girl should look like.

The term ‘mixed race’ itself tends to lump people as a monolith, and just as their experiences and heritages can wildly differ, so can their beauty identities. Dr Sarah Gaither, an assistant professor at Duke University who studies racial identity and social interactions, says that mixed race people report higher rates of social exclusion than other racial and ethnic groups. “They’re constantly being questioned about their racial backgrounds and denied their identities and group memberships,” she explains. “These experiences are known to cause increased levels of stress and depression at times and can be associated with more difficulties in forming a true sense of self and a sense of being an ‘imposter’.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2019-09-26 00:11Z by Steven

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Verso Books
2019-09-24
416 pages
6 x 9-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9781788735094
Ebook ISBN: 9781788735124

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies; Professor of American Studies
Yale University

Imperial Intimacies by Hazel V. Carby

A haunting and evocative history of British empire, told through one woman’s search through her family’s story

“Where are you from?” was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post–World War II London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh mother, Carby’s place in her home, her neighbourhood, and her country of birth was always in doubt.

Emerging from this setting, Carby untangles the threads connecting members of her family to each other in a web woven by the British Empire across the Atlantic. We meet Carby’s working-class grandmother Beatrice, a seamstress challenged by poverty and disease. In England, she was thrilled by the cosmopolitan fantasies of empire, by cities built with slave-trade profits, and by street peddlers selling fashionable Jamaican delicacies. In Jamaica, we follow the lives of both the “white Carbys” and the “black Carbys,” as Mary Ivey, a free woman of colour, whose children are fathered by Lilly Carby, a British soldier who arrived in Jamaica in 1789 to be absorbed into the plantation aristocracy. And we discover the hidden stories of Bridget and Nancy, two women owned by Lilly who survived the Middle Passage from Africa to the Caribbean.

Moving between the Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.

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The school experiences of mixed-race white and black Caribbean children in England

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Teaching Resources, United Kingdom on 2019-07-16 00:26Z by Steven

The school experiences of mixed-race white and black Caribbean children in England

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Published online 2018-10-01
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2018.1519586

Kirstin Lewis
Department of Educational Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, London
School of Education, University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom

Feyisa Demie, Honorary Fellow
School of Education
University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom

This research aims to explore the school experiences of mixed white/ black Caribbean children in English schools. The overarching findings of this research confirm that although the mixed-race population as a whole is achieving above the national average, the mixed white/ black Caribbean group is consistently the lowest performing mixed-race group in the country. Views of pupils, their parents and teachers in two London secondary schools suggest various reasons why mixed white/ black Caribbean pupils might continue to be the lowest performing mixed group in the country. These included experiences of marginalization and invisibility in school life, the low expectations that teachers held about them, the lack of knowledge about how to support them at school and how all these issues were exacerbated by the friendship groups they mixed in. This research paper discusses these critical factors in detail and their implications for policy and further research.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Girl, Woman, Other

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United Kingdom, Women on 2019-06-02 01:20Z by Steven

Girl, Woman, Other

Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin UK)
2019-05-02
464 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9780241364901
Ebook ISBN: 9780241985007

Bernardine Evaristo

Teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain, to black womanhood, to the ever-changing heart of London

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

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