The Creolizing Subject: Race, Reason, and the Politics of Purity [review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive on 2013-03-07 04:10Z by Steven

The Creolizing Subject: Race, Reason, and the Politics of Purity [review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, Issue 3, 2013
Special Issue: Racialization and Religion: Race, culture and difference in the study of Antisemitism and Islamophobia
pages 517-518
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2012.737929

Robin Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies
University of Oxford

Michael J. Monahan, The Creolizing Subject: Race, Reason, and the Politics of Purity. New York: Fordham University Press. 2011, ix + 247 pp. (paper).

This book is written by a philosopher who reworks the well-trodden ground of how we to understand race and racism. It is perhaps not too grand a claim to say that for many years US discussion about race and racism was directly or indirectly derived from Gunnar Myrdal’s formative study An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944). It is an indication of how far scholarship in this field has moved on that Myrdal does not even make an appearance in Monahan’s list of references. Instead he draws on three newer wellsprings of arguments—cultural studies, whiteness studies and creolization.

One of the great luminaries of cultural studies was Raymond Williams at Cambridge, became so weary of being hailed as one of the progenitors of the field that he complained, ‘I don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I’d never heard the damned word (culture)’. This is because the idea of culture is often so vague and so tantalizingly out of reach. For Monahan. cultural studies is accessed not so much through reactions and interpretations of literature (the British tradition), but through phenomenology. Phenomenology, Monahan avers, is characterized ‘first and foremost by a commitment to placing human consciousness at the forefront of philosophical investigations’ (p. 106). This gives him ‘the subject’ in the principal title of his book.

Trained in a more prosaic sociological tradition. I would have supposed that accessing the subject’ might be easier if the dramatis personae in the research were alive and able to be surveyed or at least interviewed. Monahan does not make it easy for himself by choosing, as the central characters in his research, seventeenth-century Irish servants who were indentured to masters in Barbados. The so-called ‘Redlegs’ of the Caribbean (they went also to St Vincent and the Grenadines) have rightly attracted considerable scholarly attention by fascinated historians. There were a few who were stricto sensu slaves (though Monahan denies this); most were semi-free workers who could not be sold or endowed and had to be freed after their indentures expired. They were often impoverished to the point that their…

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The Creolization Reader: Studies in Mixed Identities and Cultures

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Social Science on 2009-11-28 02:15Z by Steven

The Creolization Reader: Studies in Mixed Identities and Cultures

416 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-415-49854-8
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-415-49713-8

Edited by

Robin Cohen, Professor of Development Studies and Director of the International Migration Institute
University of Oxford

Paola Toninato, Research Fellow in Sociology and Italian Studies
University of Warwick

Increasingly, ‘creolization’ is used to analyse ‘cultural complexity’, ‘cosmopolitanism’, ‘hybridity’, ‘syncretism’ and ‘mixture’, prominent and growing characteristics of the global age. The Creolization Reader captures all these meanings. Attention to the ‘creolizing world’ has enormous potential as a suggestive way of describing our complex world and the diverse societies in which we all now live. The Creolization Reader illuminates old creole societies and emerging cultures and identities in many parts of the world. Areas covered include Latin America, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, West, South and East Africa, the Pacific and the USA. Our authors provide an authoritative review, conspectus and critique of many aspects of creolization. This book is divided into five main sections covering the following key topics:

  • Concepts and Theories
  • The Creolized World
  • Popular Culture
  • Kindred Concepts
  • The Creolizing World

Each section begins with a brief introduction summarizing the key arguments of the contributors, while the editors provide a provocative and comprehensive introduction to the debates provoked by creolization theory. The Creolization Reader is multi-disciplinary and includes 28 readings and original contributions drawn mainly from history, sociology, development studies, anthropology and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

PART 1: CONCEPTS AND THEORIES 1. Creolité and the Process of Creolization 2. Creoles, Capitalism and Colonialism 3. Creolization and its Discontents 4. Creolization and Creativity 5. In Praise of Créolité PART 2: THE CREOLIZED WORLD 6. The Creolité Movement: Paradoxes of a French Caribbean Orthodoxy 7. Creolization and Creole Societies 8. Creolization and Globalization in Réunion 9. Ethnicity and Identity: Creoles of Colour in Louisiana 10. Creolization and Nation-Building in the Hispanic Caribbean 11. The Evolution of a Creole Identity in Cape Verde PART 3: POPULAR CULTURE 12. Calypso Reinvents Itself 13. Capoeira: The History of an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art 14. Louisiana Creole Food Culture 15. African Gods in Contemporary Brazil 16. Architectural Creolization 17. Masquerade Politics PART 4: KINDRED CONCEPTS 18. Hybridity in Cultural Theory: Encounters of a Heterogeneous Kind 19. Mestizaje in Latin America 20. Conceiving Transnationalism 21. Conceiving Cosmopolitanism 22. Syncretism and its Synonyms: Reflections on Cultural Mixture PART 5: THE CREOLIZING WORLD 23. A Creolizing South Africa? Mixing, Hybridity and Creolization 24. Sacred Subversions? Syncretic Creoles, the Indo-Caribbean, and ‘Cultures in-between’ 25. Creolization in Transnational Japan-America 26. Creolization and Nation-Building in Indonesia 27. Swahili Creolization: The Case of Dar es Salaam 28. The World in Creolization.

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