The Signifyin(g) Saint: Encoding Homoerotic Intimacy in Black Harlem

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, History, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Religion on 2017-03-15 01:36Z by Steven

The Signifyin(g) Saint: Encoding Homoerotic Intimacy in Black Harlem

Black Perspectives
2017-03-14

James Padilioni Jr, Ph.D Candidate and Teaching Fellow in American Studies (Africana-affiliated)
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

On June 25, 1942, Edward Atkinson arrived at 101 Central Park West to sit for a photo shoot in the home studio of Carl Van Vechten. Van Vechten, author of the infamous 1926 novel Nigger Heaven, was a white patron of the Harlem Renaissance and amateur photographer who took hundreds of photographs of Black Harlem’s who’s who such as Paul Robeson, Billie Holiday, and James Weldon Johnson. Atkinson, an off-Broadway actor no stranger to playing a role, transformed himself into Martin de Porres (1579-1639), a Peruvian friar who became the first Afro-American saint when the Vatican canonized him in 1962 as the patron of social justice. I trace Martin’s iconography and ritual performances across Black communities in Latin and Anglo America to reveal the historical relations of power that structure and materialize the networks harnessed by Black peoples to mobilize resources in their varied yet persistent efforts to create meaningful lives out of the fragments of the Middle Passage

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St Martin de Porres

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion on 2014-11-04 19:19Z by Steven

St Martin de Porres

Victoria and Albert Museum: The world’s greatest museum of art and design
London, United Kingdom
2014-11-03

William Newton, Assistant Curator

Today on Sanctus Ignotum we have a case study in race relations, and our first South American saint. Born in Lima, Peru in 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish knight and a liberated black slave, Martin was initially apprenticed to a barber-surgeon. He initially joined the Dominican Order as a lay-helper, though his dedication to the poor and hallowed nature meant that he was soon invited to join the order as a full-time lay-brother.

He frequently experienced bouts of religious ecstasy, having spent nights in prayer. He kept himself very busy as monastic gardener and barber (two related skills), and as a counselor (some barbers may also believe this is a native skill), as well as attending to the sick and the poor. It was said that most of his cures came from a simple glass of water (presumably not part his barber’s training). Being of mixed race parentage himself, he was not as discerning as some of his colleagues in offering spiritual and physical comfort. The other Brothers did, however, dub him the ‘Father of Charity’ although he, being humble and saintly, preferred to call himself ‘Mulatto Dog’. Martin’s commitment to everyone’s wellbeing, no matter their colour or creed, does not appear to have been complemented by a reforming attitude to social conditions. Once, when his monastery encountered financial difficulties, he suggested that they sell him into slavery in order to make ends meet. Happily, they declined to do so…

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American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion on 2014-08-05 14:52Z by Steven

American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 97, Number 3, 2014
pages 376-384
DOI: 10.1353/sij.2014.0018

Chris Garces, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Problematizing the saintly reputation of seventeenth-century Dominican servant Martín de Porres, this article explores a little-known, late medieval Spanish form of agency, or licencia, with which a mulato colonial monastic could influence his Spanish Creole superiors, perform miracles, and gain a widespread reputation for superhuman piety. I ask: under what specific conditions could licencia have been wielded by nonwhite Christian subjects to manipulate the shifting moral orders of early modern Spanish Creole hegemony? I also explore how the politicization of racialized charisma continues to depend on a logic of licencia. Tracking resonances between the Spanish Creole veneration of a mulato figure in seventeenth-century Peru with the recent election of a “mixed race” president in the United States, this article reads together theology and politics to demonstrate the fraught beauty, or legal “beatification,” of racialized charisma.

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Martin de Porres

Posted in Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion on 2011-05-06 19:21Z by Steven

Martin de Porres

Wikipedia

Martin de Porres (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639) was a lay brother of the Dominican Order who was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people and all those seeking interracial harmony.
 
He was noted for work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children’s hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and an ability to communicate with animals.

Account of his life

Juan Martin de Porres was born in the city of Lima, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on December 9, 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a black former slave who was born in Panama. He had a sister named Juana, born three years later in 1581. He grew up in poverty; when his mother could not support him and his sister, Martin was confided to a primary school for two years, then placed with a barber/surgeon to learn the medical arts. This caused him great joy, though he was only ten years old, for he could exercise charity to his neighbor while earning his living. Already he was spending hours of the night in prayer, a practice which increased rather than diminished as he grew older….

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