Albums of Inclusion: The Photographic Poetics of Caribbean Chinese Visual Kinship

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2018-08-10 00:06Z by Steven

Albums of Inclusion: The Photographic Poetics of Caribbean Chinese Visual Kinship

Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism
Volume 22, Number 2 (56)
2018-07-01
pages 35-56
DOI: 10.1215/07990537-6985666

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Issue Cover

This essay focuses on artwork that centers family photographs and home movies as a point of departure to trouble the conventional family album in order to narrate a story about Caribbean Chinese kinship. In the art examined, personal visual archives are used to respond to the lacuna of Caribbean Chinese familial intimacies from the colonial archive. Engaging shared themes of migration and racialized ideas of reproduction, three contemporary diasporic visual artists—Albert Chong, Richard Fung, and Tomie Arai—mine oral histories and family archives to blend aural and visual narratives. These artists rupture the surface of family images to trouble the bourgeois, heteronormative, and colorist scripts that often police the formation of family. The family album is rearranged and marked up; thus it becomes rendered as flesh inscribed with silent narratives. Through different forms of remixing, they engage with the affect and entanglements of family photography to form a visual vocabulary of diasporic kinship. In doing so, the artwork—collages, documentaries, installations—interrogates the afterlife of the nineteenth-century European colonial experiment of Chinese indenture, designed to install a discreet “buffer race” between the white minority and the black majority in the Caribbean after abolition. The experiment, which depended on the capacity for the Chinese to develop bourgeois domesticity in the Caribbean after abolition, failed because of sexual intimacies between people of African descent and people of Asian descent, beyond the imperial order’s imagining. Another future of familial intimacies in the diaspora is present in the artists’ aesthetic of fragmentation and collage.

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Violent Liaisons: Historical Crossings and the Negotiation of Sex, Sexuality, and Race in The Book of Night Women and The True History of Paradise

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, Women on 2013-04-27 04:22Z by Steven

Violent Liaisons: Historical Crossings and the Negotiation of Sex, Sexuality, and Race in The Book of Night Women and The True History of Paradise

small axe: a caribbean journal of criticism
Volume 16,Number 2, 38 (2012)
pages 43-59
DOI: 10.1215/07990537-1665668

Sam Vásquez, Associate Professor of English
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

Increased criticism and representations of violence in contemporary Jamaica often account for these tensions by citing poverty or gang and political rivalries in the post-independence era. However, both Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women (2009) and Margaret Cezair-Thompson’s The True History of Paradise (1999) take these explorations a step further, specifically examining women’s responses to violence and reminding readers that present-day sexual violence creates conditions of entrapment, hostility, and lawlessness reminiscent of the barbarities of slavery and colonialism. In so doing, the authors highlight the ways historical gender and racial stereotypes inform contemporary understandings of Caribbean gender and sexuality. Anchoring this discussion in recent theories about sex and sexuality and specifically examining mixed-race and white Caribbean women, Sam Vásquez argues that both authors use neo–slave narrative tropes to simultaneously problematize acts of violence against these individuals and demonstrate how women engaged and even utilized limiting colonial paradigms.

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White but Not Quite: Tones and Overtones of Whiteness in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2009-07-02 21:21Z by Steven

White but Not Quite: Tones and Overtones of Whiteness in Brazil

Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism
Volume 13, Number 2 (July 2009)
pages 39-56
DOI: 10.1215/02705346-2009-005

Patricia de Santana Pinho
State Univiersity of New York, Albany

This article analyzes anecdotes, jokes, standards of beauty, color categories, and media representations of “mixed-race” individuals to assess the junctions and disjunctions of whiteness and blackness in Brazil.  While the multiple and contradictory meanings of “racial” mixture stimulates a preference for whiteness, thus reducing the access to power by those deemed black, it simultaneously fuels a rejection for “pure” forms of whiteness as witnessed in the country’s celebration of morenidade (brownness).  Not all forms of miscegenation are valued in Brazil’s myth of racial democracy, and some “types of mixture” are clearly preferred in detriment of others. I argue that anti-black racism in Brazil is expressed not only against dark-skinned individuals, but it also operates in the devaluing of physical traits “deemed black” even in those who have lighter skin complexion, thus creating “degrees of whiteness.”  One’s “measure of whiteness,” therefore, is not defined only by skin color, but requires a much wider economy of signs where, together with other bodily features, hair texture is almost as important as epidermal tone. In any given context, the definition of whiteness is also, necessarily, shaped by the contours of gender and class affiliation.

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