The Cuban Remix: Rethinking Culture and Political Participation in Contemporary Cuba

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2013-06-17 00:00Z by Steven

The Cuban Remix: Rethinking Culture and Political Participation in Contemporary Cuba

University of Michigan
555 pages

Tanya L. Saunders

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Sociology)

This dissertation examines the post-1959 activism of Cuba’s socially critical artists and intellectuals, and the effects of the Cuban state’s institutionalization of culture. I analyze the Cuban underground hip-hop movement as a case study of the ways in which Black artists and intellectuals in Cuba have employed cultural aesthetics to challenge contemporary inequalities organized around race, class, gender, and sexuality. I address the social context in which the Cuban underground hip-hop movement emerged by linking it to Cuba’s revolutionary project and to other counter-cultural social movements in Cuba’s history and from other post-colonial contexts. Drawing upon extensive ethnographic, historical, and interview-based research, the study engages with existing theories of the state, culture, civil society and the public sphere, but also reveals their limitations, particularly when applied to non-European contexts. As such, the dissertation offers significant insights into the relations between politics and culture, hegemony and resistance, history and the imagination of a better future, both in Cuba and beyond.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter I: Introduction
    • 1.1 Cuban Underground Hip-Hop
    • 1.2 The Organization of the Dissertation
    • 1.3 Contextual Considerations: Latin American Politics and the Coloniality of Knowledge
    • 1.4 Contextual Considerations: The Cuban Revolution and the Aesthetic Debates
  • Chapter II: Methodology
    • 2.1 Background
    • 2.2 Developing a Research Agenda
    • 2.3 Phase One
    • 2.4 Phase Two
    • 2.5 Phase Three
    • 2.6 Data Collection
  • Section I
    • Chapter III: Public Spaces, Cultural Spheres: Rethinking Theories of Political Participation, Civil Society and Social Change
      • 3.1: Subaltern Critiques of Cold War Politics
      • 3.2 Post-Socialist? Neocolonial? Republican Socialism? Reflections on Cuba‘s State Project
        • Republican Ideals within a Socialist State
      • 3.3 Citizenship, Democracy and Civil Society in the Anglo-American Metanarrative of Citizenship
        • Citizenship and Civic Participation
      • 3.4 Discussion: ‘Non-Western’ Challenges to Social Change, Political Participation and Civil Society
    • Chapter IV: Civil Society and Art Worlds: Rethinking Politics and Political Participation
      • 4.1 Making the Connections: Art and Social Change
      • 4.2 Rethinking Cultural Logics: Culture, Political Participation and Grassroots Activism
      • 4.3 The Base and Superstructure of Culture: The Institutional Structure of Cuban Culture
      • 4.4 The Ministry of Culture
      • 4.5 Discussion
  • Section II
    • Chapter V: Art and Revolution: Cuba‟s Artistic Social Movements and Social Change
      • 5.1 The alternative music scene: hip-hop and Anti-Modernist Aesthetics
      • 5.2 The Marginal Existence of Cuban Rock within Cuban Culture
      • 5.3 Nueva Trova: The Cuban Protest Music Movement
      • 5.4 Reflections on My First Nueva Trova Show
    • Chapter VI: Race, Place and Colonial Legacies: Underground hip-hop and a Racialized Social Critique
      • 6.1 Race and Cuba: Historical Considerations
      • 6.2 American Occupation and the Creation of the Cuban Republic 1898-1912
      • 6.3 The Revolutionary State Attempts to Solve the Race Problem in Cuba
      • 6.4. Making the Linkages: Discussion and Some Additional Thoughts
      • 6.5. Ethnographic Notes: Racial Identity in Contemporary Cuba
      • 6.6. “Everyone Knows That Whites Exist, But No One‘s Sure About The Blacks” Theoretical Perspectives on Art, hip-hop and Transnational Blackness
    • Chapter VII: Racial Identity and Revolution: The (Re-)Emergence of a Black Identity Among Havana‟s Underground Youth
      • 7.1 Cuban Underground Hip-Hop and Symbols of Blackness
      • 7.1a Raperos, Activistas, Revolutionaries: Underground Hip-Hop and Social Change
      • 7.2 Notes on Language
        • 7.2.1 Underground hip-hop/Comercialización/Institucionalización
      • 7.3 Transmitting Blackness: Graffiti, T-Shirts and the Black Experience
      • Figure 7q. Album cover, Jodido Protagonista, by Randeée Akozta (independently produced, circa 2004).
      • 7.4 Underground Graffiti: NoNo La Grafitera
      • 7.5 Section Summary/Concluding Remarks
  • Section III
    • Chapter VIII: Cuba‟s Sexual Revolution? Women, Homosexuality and Cuban Revolutionary Policy
      • 8.1 All the Women Are Straight and All the Homosexuals are Men: Gender and Female (Homo-) Sexuality
      • 8.2. Silent Women, Invisible Lesbians: Researching the Experiences of Lesbians in Cuba
      • 8.3 Notes on Contemporary Lesbian, Gay Life in Cuba
    • Chapter IX: “Siempre Hay Lucha/There Is Always a Struggle”: Black Women, Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba
      • 9.1 (1). ―No Particular Racial Subjectivity‖
      • 9.2 (2). The Racially Conscious Race Rejecters
      • 9.3 (3). The Racially Awakened
      • 9.4 (4). Racially Conscious Actors
      • 9.5 ¿Y Que Paso Con OREMI?/ And What Happened with OREMI? Black Lesbian Subjectivity in Contemporary Cuba
      • 9.6 Conclusion
    • Chapter X: “No Soy Kruda”: Las Krudas, Cuban Black Feminism and the Queer of Color Critique
      • 10.1 Who Are Las Krudas?
      • 10.2 Las Krudas: Raperas Underground
      • 10.3 Krudas‘ Black Feminist Discourse
      • 10.4 Como Existe La Heterosexualidad, Existe Homosexualidad/Just As There Is Heterosexuality, There Is Homosexuality
      • 10.5 Krudas and the Queer of Color Critique
      • 10.6 Reaction to Krudas‘ Work
      • 10.7 Conclusion/Discussion
  • Chapter XI: Conclusion
    • The Sociological Implications of My Research
  • Appendix
  • Discography, Interviews, IRB Forms & Supplementary Materials
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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“Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century,” talk by Dorothy Roberts

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2013-03-29 03:42Z by Steven

“Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century,” talk by Dorothy Roberts

University of Michigan
Hatcher Library Gallery, Room 100
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan
2013-04-04, 16:00-17:30 CDT (Local Time)

Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology; Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights
University of Pennsylvania

Professor Roberts will be discussing her latest project in connection with the “Understanding Race” theme semester. In “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century” she argues that America is experiencing a dangerous resurgence of classifying populations into biological races. By searching for differences at the molecular level, a new race-based science is obscuring racism in our society and legitimizing state brutality against communities of color at a time when many claim that the United States is “post-racial.” Moving from an account of the evolution of the concept of race—proving that it has always been a mutable and socially defined political division supported by mainstream science—Roberts delves deeply into the current debates, interrogating cutting-edge genomic science and biotechnology, interviewing its researchers, and exposing the political consequences of the focus on race-based genetic difference. Fatal Invention is a powerful call for us to affirm our common humanity by eliminating the social inequities preserved by the political system of race…

For more information, click here.

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AAS 490: Special Topics in Black World Studies: Section 008: Race and “Black Indians”

Posted in Anthropology, Course Offerings, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2013-03-12 13:32Z by Steven

AAS 490: Special Topics in Black World Studies: Section 008: Race and “Black Indians”

University of Michigan
Winter 2013
Theme Semester Courses

Tiya Miles, Professor of American Culture, Afroamerican and African Studies, and Native American Studies

This seven week mini course is a special winter 2013 offering for the LSA Theme Semester on Race. The course will introduce students to a range of issues and experiences related to the topic and identity category of “Black Indians.” Popularized in the 1980s by a book of the same title, the term “Black Indians” is often used to identify and describe people of mixed-race African American and Native American ancestry. It is also applied to people with strong bi-cultural connections across these groups who may or may not have Black and native “blood” ties. This class will explore and analyze three major aspects of our subject matter:

  1. historical contexts for the interactions of Africans, African Americans and Native Americans;
  2. personal experiences stemming from mixed race and bi-cultural Afro-Native identities;
  3. meanings and effects of “racial stories” that have been crafted and told about “Black Indians” over time.

Major themes and ideas that will emerge in our discussions include: indigeneity, European and U.S. colonialism, slavery, racial formation and racial hierarchy, mixed-race coupling and family making, tribal sovereignty, personal and community identities, and racial and cultural authenticity.

Textbooks/Other Materials

  • Confounding the Color Line, Author: Brooks, James F.
  • Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, Author: written by William Loren Katz.
  • Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: the African diaspora in Indian country, Author: edited by Tiya Miles and Sharon P. Holland.
  • IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas, Author: general editor, Gabrielle Tayac.

For more information, click here.

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U-M’s Understanding Race Project examines issues at heart of the human experience, advances national conversation on race

Posted in Anthropology, History, Live Events, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science, United States on 2012-12-20 21:31Z by Steven

U-M’s Understanding Race Project examines issues at heart of the human experience, advances national conversation on race

University of Michigan
News Release


Frank Provenzano, (734) 647-4411
Maryanne George, (734) 615-6514
Deborah Greene, (734) 763-4008

Twitter hashtags: #UnderstandRace, #UMtheme

ANN ARBOR—Few subjects provoke as strong a visceral response as the topic of race. One-hundred-and-fifty years after the United States was nearly fractured by the battle over slavery and more than a half-century since the modern Civil Rights Movement emerged, the University of Michigan is launching the Understanding Race Project.
From January through April, an extensive range of public exhibits, performances, lectures, symposia and more than 130 courses in several disciplines will explore the concept of race and its impacts. The historical, cultural, psychological and legal interpretations of race will be examined from both national and global perspectives.
Highlights of the project include the “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit developed by the American Anthropological Association and the Science Museum of Minnesota and “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas,” a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit.
Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Angela Davis, educator and civil rights activist; and Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., are among the dozens of lecturers speaking at U-M as part of the project…

WHAT: IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas, a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit

WHEN: Jan. 9-31

DESCRIPTION: The story of people who share African American and Native American ancestry has long been invisible. For 500 years or more, African American and Native people have come together, creating shared histories, communities and ways of life. Often divided by prejudice, laws or twists of history, African-Native Americans are united by a double heritage that is truly indivisible.

WHERE: Duderstadt Center Gallery on U-M’s North Campus, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor. The gallery is open Noon-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Noon-5 p.m. on Sundays. The gallery will be open from Noon-6 p.m. on Martin Luther King Day.
WHAT: “Identities in Red, Black and White: A Roundtable Discussion”

WHEN:  4-6 p.m. Jan. 10

DESCRIPTION: This public program will address mixed-race identities from autobiographical and storytelling perspectives and within the context of social and cultural analysis.

EXPERTS: Roundtable panelists express a mixed native identity of some kind—whether that connection is via family ties and/or cultural ties, including:

  • Tiya Miles, U-M professor of Afroamerican and African studies and Native American studies
  • Adesola Akinleye, dance scholar and founder of Dancing Strong
  • Elizabeth Atkins, U-M alumna and Detroit-based best-selling novelist and journalist
  • Robert Keith Collins, assistant professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University.
  • Philip Deloria, U-M professor of history, American culture, and Native American studies

For more information, click here.


“Incestuous Sheets” and “Adulterate Beasts”: Incest and Miscegenation in Early Modern Drama

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-10-29 03:31Z by Steven

“Incestuous Sheets” and “Adulterate Beasts”: Incest and Miscegenation in Early Modern Drama

University of Michigan
199 pages

Kentston D. Bauman

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (English Language and Literature)

This dissertation explores the centrality of incest and miscegenation in the early modern cultural imaginary. Incest, which occurs with surprising frequency in the drama of the period but with equally surprising scarcity in everyday social life, is frequently invoked in conjunction with miscegenation in all of its various forms (social, religious, ethnic/cultural/racial). As boundary phenomena – the two extreme ends of the spectrum of sexual alliance – incest and miscegenation served as powerful and surprisingly flexible dramatic tropes, providing a useful means of interrogating the social processes that create, instill, and redefine acceptable choices in sexual and social partners. I divide the project into two sections. In the first, I investigate the interplay among incest, social miscegenation, and social mobility. Looking at Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, I explore how these issues become filtered through the figure of the incestuous widow, whose treatment serves as both a critique of aristocratic hierarchies and a means of promoting sexual and social mobility. The second, which examines the relations between incest and ethnic miscegenation, centers on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Noting that Shakespeare takes the incestuous rape in Ovid’s tale of Philomel and replaces it with the miscegenistic rape of Lavinia, I investigate how this transposition interrogates the family’s relationship to itself and to the state. I situate my readings of these plays in a socio-political context that takes into account two different, yet intricately connected, cultural issues: the painful transition of a society still highly stratified along feudal lines to one suddenly faced with the possibilities for radical economic and political advancement; and the anxieties of a culture just as suddenly exposed, through exploration and trade, to other geographic and cultural realms. The attempt to navigate the new terrain opened up by changes in the social, political, and geographic climate, I argue, disrupts long-established institutions – the family, marriage, hierarchical stratification. Significantly, the tensions between incest and miscegenation so apparent in the period’s drama express, in part, cultural anxieties fostered by a new social openness combined with a newly heightened sense of an enticing yet threatening Other.


    • Introduction. Incest and Miscegenation on the Early Modern Stage
    • One. The Incestuous Widow and Social Mobility in Early Modern Drama
    • Two. Aristocratic Endogamy and Social Miscegenation in Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi
    • Three. “Unkind and Careless of Your Own”: Incest, Miscegenation, and Family in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus
    • Epilogue. Looking Forward: A Pattern for Reading

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Race and Making America in Brazil: How Brazilian Return Migrants Negotiate Race in the US and Brazil

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-07-10 00:54Z by Steven

Race and Making America in Brazil: How Brazilian Return Migrants Negotiate Race in the US and Brazil

University of Michigan
314 pages

Tiffany Denise Joseph

Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Sociology) in The University of Michigan

This dissertation explores how US immigration influenced the racial conceptions of Brazilian returnees, individuals who immigrated to the US and subsequently returned to Brazil. Since Brazil was once regarded as a multi-racial utopia and represents a very distinct social environment when compared to the US, the dissertation objective was to learn how returnees adapted to the US racial system and if they “brought back” US racial ideals to Brazil upon returning. I conducted semi-structured retrospective interviews with 49 Brazilian returnees in Governador Valadares, Brazil, the country‘s largest immigrant-sending city to the US to explore how these individuals perceived and navigated racial classification and relations in Brazil and the US before, during, and after the US migration. To more effectively isolate the influence of immigration for returnees, I also interviewed a comparison group of 24 non-migrants.

Findings suggest that returnees relied on a transnational racial optic to navigate the US racial system as immigrants and to readapt to the Brazilian racial system after returning to Brazil. I use the term “transnational racial optic” to demonstrate how migration transformed returnees‘ observations, interpretations, and understandings of race in Brazil and the US. Returnees felt the US racial system was characterized by more rigid racial classification, overt forms of racism, and pervasive interracial social and residential segregation compared to Brazil. The US migration also influenced returnees‘ perceptions of racial stratification in both societies, particularly with regard to the socio-economic positions and behaviors of US and Brazilian blacks.

After the US migration, most returnees were not conscious of how their racial classifications or perceptions changed, although the results indicate shifts in their racial and skin tone classifications over the course of the migration. Furthermore, returnees felt that they did not remit US racial ideals to Brazil after returning. While both returnees and non-migrants thought racism existed in Brazil, returnees, after having lived in the US, were more cognizant of the structural manifestations of racism than non-migrants. This suggests that returnees‘ observations of race in the US influenced their perceptions of race in Brazil post-migration, which is indicative of the transnational racial optic.

Table of Contents

  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • List of Appendices
  • Abstract
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Background and Theoretical Framework
  • Chapter 3 Methodology
  • Chapter 4 Examining Brazilian Return Migrants‘ Personal Conceptions about Race in the United States
  • Chapter 5 Examining Brazilian Return Migrants‘ Societal Conceptions about Race in the US
  • Chapter 6 The Return: Brazilian Return Migrants‘ Post-Migration Conceptions of Racial Classification in Brazil
  • Chapter 7 Contemporary Life in GV: Conceptions of Race among Return Migrants and Non-Migrants
  • Chapter 8 Conclusion
  • Appendices
  • Bibliography

List of Figures

  • Figure 1: Returnees‘ Race in Brazil Pre-Migration (Brazil Census)
  • Figure 2: Returnees‘ Race in US (US Census)
  • Figure 3: Returnees‘ Average Skin Tone Classifications during Migration Process
  • Figure 4: Non-Migrants‘ Racial Classifications (Brazil Census)
  • Figure 5: Returnees’ Racial Classifications at Time of Interview
  • Figure 6: Coding Schema for Returnees’ and Non-Migrants’ Brazilian Racial Conceptions
  • Figure 7: Coding Schema of Returnees‘ US Racial Conceptions

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Demographics of Return and Non-Migrants
  • Table 2: Immigration Demographics for Return Migrants
  • Table 3: Topics in Interview Protocols
  • Table 4: How Participants Racially Classified Interviewer
  • Table 5: Importance of Race before Immigrating
  • Table 6: Importance of Race in US
  • Table 7: Importance of Race before Immigrating vs US
  • Table 8: Brazilian Racial Classifications
  • Table 9: Open-Ended Racial Classifications in US
  • Table 10: Self-Ascribed vs. External Racial Classification in US
  • Table 11: Factors Influencing Open-Ended Racial Classification
  • Table 12: Experiences of Discrimination by Racial Classification
  • Table 13: Defining Race- Return Migrants vs Non-Migrants
  • Table 14: Factors Influencing Return Migrants and Non-Migrants
  • Table 15: Returnees’ Skin Tone Classifications at Each Retrospective Migration Stage
  • Table 16: Racial Classification in the US vs Racial Classification
  • Table 17: Pre-Migration Racial Classification vs Racial Classification
  • Table 18: Self-Ascribed Racial Classification-Return Migrants vs. Non-Migrants
  • Table 19: Importance of Classifications
  • Table 20: Return Migrants‘ Skin Tone Classifications across Racial Categories
  • Table 21: Returnees’ Perceptions of Racial Democracy
  • Table 22: Manifestations of Racism
  • Table 23: Return Migrants’ Demographic Info (Returnees 1-24)
  • Table 24: Return Migrants’ Demographic Info (Returnees 25-49)
  • Table 25: Non-Migrants‘ Demographic Info

List of Appendices

  • Appendix 1 Demographic Information
  • Appendix 2 Coding Schema
  • Appendix 3 Interview Protocol for Return Migrants-English Version
  • Appendix 4 Interview Protocol for Non-Migrants-English Version
  • Appendix 5 Interview Protocol for Return Migrants-Portuguese Version
  • Appendix 6 Interview Protocol for Non-Migrants- Portuguese Version

Chapter 1: Introduction

I filled it out [Census form]. Yes, they asked [for my racial classification] and I put white because I wasn‘t Hispanic or Latino. [The form] had Hispanic, white, black, there wasn‘t an option for me specifically. Even though in Brazil, I considered myself white, there [in the US] for them [the Americans] I am not white because white there is blue eyes and blonde hair.

–Renata, white woman, 46 years, New York

Because when they [Americans] look at you, they know, they know that you‘re not American. (quirks) I don‘t know how they know, but…if you speak English [with a foreign-sounding accent] like in America, they know you are not American. I don‘t know why.

-Amanda, white woman, 33 years, Massachusetts

Increasing immigration to the United States in the last fifty years has had a significant impact on the population’s racial and ethnic diversity. Although the US historically has been predominantly white and black, the 2000 US Census revealed a population that has become increasingly racially nonwhite since the majority of recent immigrants have come from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean.2 While these immigrants bring with them hopes for a brighter future, they also come with conceptions of race from their countries of origin, which are not easily shed and may influence their perceptions of and incorporation into US society. In the US, race is a primary mode of social organization and the social construction of race has created widespread social inequality between whites and people of color since the nation’s inception (Feagin 2000; Omi and Winant 1994). Feagin (2000) argues that the black-white racial binary is the foundation of US race relations and is the ruler by which other racial and immigrant groups are measured. Therefore, immigrants who come to the US enter a racially polarized social context.

The quotes at the beginning of this chapter provide recollections of how Brazilian return migrants, or Brazilians who immigrated to the US and subsequently returned to Brazil, negotiated race while living in the US as immigrants.3 The ideas captured in Renata and Amanda’s quotes suggest a reconfiguration in the US of self-ascribed racial classification that differed from their racial self-classifications in Brazil, as well as recognition of how “Americans” identify foreign others.

While race is a strong structuring factor for US residents, race and racial classification in immigrants’ countries of origin may be very different from those in the US, which means immigrants must learn how to negotiate race in their new context. According to Landale and Oropesa (2002):

“Not only must migrants adapt to change in their status from majority group member to minority group member; they also face pressure to redefine themselves in terms of the black-white dichotomy that delineates race relations in the U.S.” (pg. 234).

Such a process of redefinition may be challenging for immigrants who never before have classified themselves using rigid racial terms, particularly for those who come from Latin America, which has a history of more socially-accepted racial mixing that has resulted in populations with a diverse range of physical racial markers, such as skin tone and hair texture (Landale and Oropesa 2002; Roth 2006; Duany 2002; Itzigsohn et. al 2005). Brazil, once considered a racial utopia compared to the US because of its perceived harmonic interracial relations, is such a country. Whereas one’s ancestry and physical features are generally the basis for classification into a single specific racial group in the US, such characteristics may signify different racial classifications in Brazil and other Latin American countries. Renata’s quote clearly demonstrates how her physical features are considered white in Brazil although she is considered nonwhite in the US. Thus, Renata and other Latin American immigrants come to the US with a different understanding of race and must adjust to existing racial classifications and race relations upon arrival. As Latinos are currently the largest ethno-racial minority in the US and do not easily fit into the historical black-white racial binary, it is important to explore how immigrants from Latin American countries, more specifically Brazil, adapt to race in the US.

Brazil is the Latin American country of interest in this study for three reasons. First, there have been various comparative studies of race in the United States and Brazil that have explored the unique racial characteristics of these countries (Degler 1986; Marx 1998; Telles 2004; Bailey 2009). Brazil and the US are two of the largest countries in the Americas and share a history of European colonization, Indigenous conquest, and African enslavement. Yet, the social construction of race has unfolded very differently in each context, motivating studies that explored how the racist US differed from Brazil’s multi-racial paradise.4 Second, as the largest slave-holding societies in the Americas, Brazil and the US have large African-descended populations. The majority of African slaves imported to the Americas were sent to Brazil. Even after the abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade, African slaves were still illegally imported to Brazil, which was last country in the Americas to abolish slavery in 1888. Thus, Brazil’s African-descended population is significantly larger than its US counterpart (Telles 2004). In fact, it has been argued that Brazil has the world’s second largest-African descended population after Africa (Telles 2004; Martes 2007). Finally, this research is also motivated by the increase in Brazilian immigration to the US in the last thirty years. Brazil’s economic recession in the 1980s with its high unemployment and inflation rates encouraged significant emigration for employment purposes to the US, Canada, and Japan (Goza 1999; Margolis 1994; Takenaka 2000). Since that time, Brazilians have migrated to the US in large numbers, yet there had been very little research examining their experiences until the mid-1990s.

Given the plethora of comparative race research on Brazil and the US and the growth of Brazilian immigrant communities in the US, a study exploring how Brazilian immigrants come to understand race in the US is warranted. The primary goal of this dissertation is to comparatively explore the social constructions of race in Brazil and the US through the observations, perceptions, and experiences of individuals who have lived in each country for an extended period of time. While other comparative studies have relied on survey and historical data to understand how race and racism “work” on a macro-level in each society, I examine how individuals make sense of and negotiate race in both countries at the personal level. Because Brazilian immigrants are one of the most recent immigrant groups to the US and extensive return migration has been documented among this group, Brazilian return migrants are the ideal group for such a study. As individuals who were racially socialized in Brazil, they entered the US with a different perception of race and encountered a racial system that relied on more rigidly defined racial categories and groups and appeared to be more overtly racist than Brazil.

Furthermore, upon leaving the US, Brazilian return migrants go home with a different mindset that has been shaped by their experiences abroad. Migration between both countries facilitates comparisons between migrants’ quality of life in Brazil and the US that make it difficult to readapt to life in post-migration Brazil (Margolis 2001). Margolis (2001) argues that “some returnees become people in-between [who] are not entirely satisfied with life in either country” (pg. 243). Thus, if their mindsets are “changed” by living in the US, it is possible that US migration also facilitates a change in these individuals’ racial conceptions in Brazil after the US migration. I define racial conceptions as a set of ideas that help individuals understand how social actors, in this study Brazilian returnees, negotiate race in a particular context. In this study, I operationalize these conceptions in three ways using data from respondents’ experiences of: (1) racial classification, (2) observations, perceptions, and experiences of racism or racial discrimination, and (3) an understanding of how race functions on a societal level. For example, Brazilian return migrants in this study negotiated racial conceptions in the US through: (1) their personal, professional, and miscellaneous interactions with other Brazilians, other immigrants, and native born US citizens, and (2) their “consumption” of US culture through television, music, and newspapers.

This dissertation examines how exposure to racial systems in the United States and Brazil influences the racial conceptions of Brazilian return migrants in three contexts: (1) in Brazil before the US migration; (2) in the US as immigrants; and (3) in Brazil after the US migration. To comparatively explore race in the US and Brazil via Brazilian return migrants’ racial conceptions, I address two major questions in this study:

(1) How does immigration to the US change racial conceptions for Brazilian return migrants while they are living in the US and after returning to Brazil?

(2) Do return migrants “bring back” racial ideals from the US and if so, what impact does extensive US migration have on racial relations in returnees’communities?

To address these research questions, I rely on data obtained from semi-structured interviews with 49 Brazilian return migrants and 24 non-migrants (Brazilians who never migrated) in Governador Valadares, Brazil, a city of 250,000 residents in the South Central state of Minas Gerais. Governador Valadares (GV) has historically been Brazil’s largest immigrant-sending city to the US. Emigration to the US has so heavily influenced the local economy that the city has been famously nicknamed by Brazilians as “Governador Valadolares,” as in US dollars. About 15 percent of GV residents, also known as Valadarenses, are estimated to be living in the US and nearly 80 percent of Valadarenses have at least one relative residing in the US (CIAAT 2007; Margolis 1998). Additionally, return migration to GV after the US migration has been heavily documented (Marcus 2009; Assis and de Campos 2009; Martes 2008; Siqueira 2008; CIAAT 2007; Siqueira 2006). The prevalence of US migration has created a constant flow of people, money, and culture between GV and the US, so much so that GV and particular US cities with large numbers of migrants from GV are considered transnational social fields or:

“… set[s] of multiple interlocking networks of social relationships through which ideas, practices, and resources are unequally exchanged, organized, and transformed… [that] connect actors through direct and indirect relations across borders” (Levitt and Glick Schiller 2004, 1009).

Because the majority of migrants from GV intend to return to their native city after the US migration, they maintain social and economic ties while living in the US. Valadarenses generally immigrate to the US to work for two to five years to earn and save as much money as possible for the purpose of purchasing a home and car or starting a business upon returning from the US. This process has been referred to as “Fazer à América,” which translates in English to “making America” (Martes 2008; CIAAT 2007; Siqueira 2006). These migrants hope the US migration will facilitate upward social mobility and access to what they perceive to be a better or more “American” quality of life in GV after migration…

…Additionally, the exploration of racial conceptions for this subset of individuals who are on the move between the US and Brazil also helps me develop a more nuanced argument about race as a social construction that varies from place to place. This is particularly true for the comparison of the US and Brazil, two countries with very distinct racial histories that are now experiencing shifts in racial discourses due to changing ethnic demographics (US) and the introduction of affirmative action policies (Brazil). The increase in rates of interracial marriage, introduction of an option to classify in more than one racial category on the US census, the dismantling of race-based affirmative action policies in the US and the recent election of Barack Obama as the first black (biracial) president of the United States have spurred debates about whether the US has now become a postracial society. Furthermore, the growth of the Latino population into the country’s largest ethno-racial minority and increased immigration from Latin America have had a significant impact on US demographics.

At the same time, to address racial inequality in Brazil, some universities and companies have begun to implement racial quotas to increase the representation of Afro-Brazilians in Brazil’s higher education system, which has been very controversial. Although nonwhites constitute nearly half of the Brazilian population, whites constitute about 73 percent of university students (Telles 2004; Stubrin 2005; Bailey 2009). Due to the prevalence of racial mixing in Brazil and many white Brazilians’ acknowledgment of having black racial ancestry, the implementation of affirmative action has made it necessary to racially classify individuals (blacks) in a socially meaningful way to determine who can benefit from race-specific policies. This policy has facilitated discussions about an importation of US racial classification standards (Telles 2004; Araujo 2001; Fry and Maggie 2004; Maio and Santos 2005; Bailey 2009). Because both Brazil and the US are experiencing shifts in racial discourse as they relate to discussions of racial demographics, racial classification, and inequality, some researchers have argued that the US will undergo either a (1) “Latin-Americanization” of race in which existing racial boundaries will become more ambiguous or (2) shift from the traditional black-white racial binary to a black-nonblack binary in which existing racial boundaries will be realigned (Bonilla-Silva 2004; Skidmore 2003; Lee and Bean 2004; Yancey 2003). Other researchers suggest that the US and Brazilian racial classification systems are on “converging paths,” as each country’s racial dynamics seem to be resembling its counterpart (Daniel 2006; Bailey 2009):

It appears to be the case that racial dynamics in the United States and in Brazil are like two ships passing in the night, one showing signs of movement toward mixed-race framings and the other toward single-race identification (Bailey 2009, 8).

Thus, it is possible that just as Brazilians are moving back and forth across US and Brazilian borders, that racial ideals in each country are also being exchanged, which highlights the significance of this study in another way. If race in the US is becoming “Latin-Americanized,” it is important to understand how Latin Americans (in this study Brazilians) conceive of race in their countries of origin and in the US if researchers are to understand how the social construction of race in the US may evolve in the future…

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Other Communions: Maya, Mulatto, Woman and God in Miguel Ángel Asturias 1923-1974

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2011-06-23 03:38Z by Steven

Other Communions: Maya, Mulatto, Woman and God in Miguel Ángel Asturias 1923-1974

University of Michigan
218 pages

Andrea Leigh Dewees

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Romance Languages and Literatures: Spanish) in the University of Michigan

“Other Communions: Maya, Mulatto, Woman and God in Miguel Ángel Asturias 1923-1974” engages the Guatemalan Nobel Laureate’s literary production over five decades, beginning with his portrayals of the Maya and expanding to include his representations of the mulatto, female and God. I am primarily concerned with close readings of Los ojos de los enterrados (1960), Mulata de Tal (1963) and El árbol de la cruz (1997) but I draw also from others of Asturias’s novels, as well as historiography, postcolonial and feminist theory, to show how Asturias narrates the nation through literary figures of the Other.

Chapter 2 begins with an intellectual history of Asturias as a “Maya” author, tracing the roots and permutations of this myth through biography, autobiography, and literary criticism. I then show how his appropriative creation of a Maya indigenismo is central to his political and aesthetic conception of Latin American literature. However, Asturias’s novels extend beyond this fictive Maya center. Chapter 3 analyzes a non-Maya, untranslated phrase associated with a mulatto character in Asturias’s Banana Trilogy. I analyze an emerging negrista aesthetic and argue that the interruptive repetition of the phrase structures the novel’s account of the recent history of revolution, land reform and democratic rupture in Guatemala, as well as the more distant legacies of the conquest, colonialism and slavery.

Mulata de tal also features a mulatta character and in Chapter 4 I explain how Asturias connects land to the female body through a complex series of fragmentations, profanations and redemptions. In contrast to the more historical concerns of the Banana Trilogy, this novel is encased within an apocalyptic framework, marking a shift in Asturias’s attention from a Maya origin to the end of days.

Finally, I examine a sketch published after Asturias’s death, El árbol de la cruz, calling attention to Asturias’s connection between the female Other and the cross in what amounts to a brief treatise on communion. I show how this text, read accumulatively through popular religiosity in others of Asturias’s novels, balances between definitive origin and conclusive end.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Chapter 1 Introduction Mimesis and Guatemalan National Literature
  • Chapter 2 Asturias and lo maya
  • Appendices
  • Chapter 3 Irrupted History: 1944, 1954 and Los ojos de los enterrados
  • Chapter 4 Fragments between hell and heaven: land, the female body and the text in Mulata de tal
  • Chapter 5 Crosses, Origins, Communions
  • Bibliography

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Race and Mixed Race

Posted in Course Offerings, History, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-04-08 21:57Z by Steven

Race and Mixed Race

University of Michigan
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
American Culture
AMCULT 311 –  Topics in Ethnic Studies
Section 001
Fall 2011

Evelyn Azeeza Alsultany, Assistant Professor of American Culture

This course examines how conceptions of race and mixed race have been historically shaped through law, science, and popular culture. In addition to examining the ways in which race has been socially constructed and how its meanings have changed over time, the course also explores the politics of interracial marriage, contemporary mixed race identities, and cross-racial adoption. Through an examination of historical, sociological, and autobiographical texts, the course explores a variety of themes including: census classifications, affirmative action, notions of colorblindness, questions of appearance, “authenticity,” community belonging, and the debates around the mixed race movement. Course requirements include posting a weekly discussion question, two in-class exams, and a final group project.

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The Racial Identification of Biracial Children with One Asian Parent: Evidence from the 1990 Census

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Reports, United States on 2011-02-23 01:26Z by Steven

The Racial Identification of Biracial Children with One Asian Parent: Evidence from the 1990 Census

No. 96-370
Population Studies Center Research Report Series
Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan
August 1996

Yu Xie, Otis Dudley Duncan Distinguished University Professor of Sociology
University of Michigan

Kimberly A. Goyette, Associate Professor of Sociology
Temple University

This paper examines the socioeconomic and demographic correlates that are associated with whether biracial children with an Asian parent are racially identified with their Asian parent or with their non-Asian parent. With data extracted from the 5 percent Public Use Microdata Sample of the 1990 Census, we take into account explanatory variables at three levels: child’s characteristics, parents’ characteristics, and locale’s racial composition. Our results indicate that the racial identification of biracial children with an Asian parent is to a large extent an arbitrary option within today’s prevailing racial classification scheme. We find empirical evidence in support of the theoretical proposition that both assimilation and awareness of Asian heritage affect the racial identification of biracial children with an Asian parent. Of particular interest is our new finding that the Asian parent’s education increases the likelihood of Asian identification only for third-generation children. In general, we find demographic factors, such as the Asian parent’s ethnicity, to play a far more important role than socioeconomic factors approximating assimilation and awareness processes. In light of these results, we advance the thesis that, like ethnic options among whites, racial options are available for the racial identification of biracial children with an Asian parent.

Read the entire report here.

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Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Migration from the West Indies to Britain, 1750-1820

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Family/Parenting, History, New Media, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2010-10-17 02:53Z by Steven

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Migration from the West Indies to Britain, 1750-1820

The University of Michigan
481 pages

Daniel Alan Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Drury University, Springfield, Missouri

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (History) in The University of Michigan 2010

This dissertation shows that the migration of mixed-race individuals from the Caribbean to Britain between 1750 and 1820 helped to harden British attitudes toward those of African descent. The children of wealthy, white fathers and both free and enslaved women of color, many left for Britain in order to escape the deficiencies and bigotry of West Indian society. This study traces the group’s origin in the Caribbean, mainly Jamaica, to its voyage and arrival in Britain. It argues that the perceived threats of these migrants’ financial bounty and potential to marry and reproduce in Britain helped to collapse previous racial distinctions in the metropole which had traditionally differentiated along class and status lines and paved the way for a more monolithic racial viewpoint in the nineteenth century.

This study makes three major contributions to the history of the British Atlantic. First, it provides a thorough examination of the West Indies’ elite population of color, showing its connection to privileged white society in both the Caribbean and Britain. Those who moved to the metropole lend further proof to the agency and influence of such individuals in the Atlantic world. Second, it expands the notion of the British family at the turn of the nineteenth century. Through analyses of wills, inheritance disputes, and correspondence, this project reveals the regularity of British legal and personal interaction with relatives of color across the Atlantic, as well as with those who resettled in the metropole. Third, it allows for a material understanding of Atlantic racial ideologies. By connecting popular discussions in the abolition debate and the sentimental novel to biographical accounts of mixed-race migrants, British notions of racial difference are more strongly linked to social reality. Uncovering an entirely new cohort of British people of color and its members’ lived experiences, this dissertation provides crucial insight into the tightening of British and Atlantic racial attitudes.


In 1840, the Reverend Donald Sage completed his memoirs. Reflecting on the meandering twists and turns of life, he wrote extensively on his education and the different schools he attended as a youth. One of these institutions, where he stayed only briefly between 1801 and 1803, was located in the small seaside town of Dornoch, in the Scottish Highlands. Sage described the village as a “little county town” which had been “considerably on the decrease” by the time his family had arrived. As one would do in such a journal, Sage thought back on his boyhood friends, and noted that while at Dornoch he and his brother became close companions with the Hay family. Like Sage, the three Hay brothers were not originally from the village; they had instead been born in the West Indies. In fact, Sage revealed that they were “the offspring of a negro woman, as their hair, and the tawny colour of their skin, very plainly intimated, [and] [t]heir father was a Scotsman.” Sage became particularly good friends with Fergus, the eldest of the three, of whom he gave a very qualified endorsement: “Notwithstanding the disadvantages of his negro parentage, Fergus was very handsome. He had all the manners of a gentleman, and had first-rate abilities.”

It may seem out of place for three West Indian children, the offspring of an interracial couple, to be living in a small village at Scotland’s northern tip in 1801. Historians tend to think of an Afro-Caribbean presence in Britain as a phenomenon of the last sixty-plus years, and one localized around major urban centers. At the same time, only recently has the topic of inter-racial unions been addressed in the “new” multicultural Britain. The story of the Hay children in Dornoch, however, was not at all unique at the turn of the nineteenth century. Rather, the Hays were members of a regular migration of mixed-race West Indians who arrived in the home country during the period. Facing intense discrimination, few jobs opportunities, and virtually no educational options in the colonies, West Indians of color fled to Britain with their white fathers’ assistance. Once arrived, they encountered myriad responses. While some white relatives accepted them into their homes, others sued to cut them off from the family fortune. Equally, even though a number of fictional and political tracts welcomed their arrival, others condemned their presence and lobbied to ban them from landing on British soil. Regardless of these variable experiences, mixed-race migrants traveled to Britain consistently during the period. The Hay children may have turned heads on the roads of Dornoch, but they would not have been a wholly unfamiliar sight.

This study examines the movement of mixed-race individuals from the Caribbean to Britain at the end of the long eighteenth century. It argues that the frequent and sustained migration of these children of color produced a strong British reaction, at both the personal and popular levels, against their presence, and helped contribute to the simplification and essentialization of British racial ideology in the nineteenth century. A number of personal histories are followed through the various stages of this transplantation, and are compared to published accounts of the phenomenon in general. White patronage and parental ties were vital in the colonies if a mixed-race individual was to leave for Britain. Connected through these kinship and business associations, elite West Indians of color maintained their own Atlantic networks. Once in Britain, they had to monitor their finances vigilantly against rival claimants to Caribbean fortunes. Family attempts at disinheritance were a frequent problem, and demonstrated an increasing British disgust at colonial miscegenation, along with mixed-race resettlement. With the advent of the abolition movement in the 1770s and 1780s, the issue took on greater political importance. Rich heirs of color now in Britain seemed to herald the cataclysmic prophesies of slavery supporters. Certain that abolition would destroy the racial and class barriers between black and white, many Britons recoiled at those of hybrid descent now resident in the metropole. If class distinctions had restrained racial prejudice in the early years of the eighteenth century, they no longer produced the same moderating effects at the century’s close…

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The World They Left Behind: Family Networks and Mixed-Race Children In the West Indies
  • Chapter 2: Patterns of Migration: Push and Pull Factors Sending West Indians of Color to Britain
  • Chapter 3: Inheritance Disputes and Mixed-Race Individuals in Britain
  • Chapter 4: Success and Struggle in Britain
  • Chapter 5: West Indians of Color in Britain, and the Abolition Question
  • Chapter 6: Depictions of Mixed-Race Migrants in British Literature
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

List of Figures

  • Brunias, 1779
  • 1.2 “The Barbadoes Mulatto Girl,” by Agostino Brunias, 1779
  • 1.3 “Joanna,” by William Blake, 1796
  • 1.4 Percentages of Children Born of Mixed Race, and the Percentage of Mixed-Race Children Born in Wedlock, St. Catherine, Jamaica, 1770-1808
  • 1.5 Percentage of Mixed-Race Children Born in Wedlock, Kingston, Jamaica, 1809-1820
  • 1.6 Percentage of Free, Mixed-Race Children with Interracial Parents, Kingston, Jamaica, 1750-1820
  • 1.7 Thomas Hibbert’s House, Kingston, Jamaica, 2008 (erected 1755)
  • 2.1 Deficiency Fines Collected (in pounds current), St. Thomas in the Vale Parish, Jamaica, 1789-1801
  • 2.2 Percentage of West Indians in Student Body (University of Edinburgh Medical School and King’s College, Aberdeen), 1750-1820
  • 2.3 “Johnny New-Come in the Island of Jamaica,” by Abraham James, 1800
  • 4.1 “A Scene on the quarter deck of the Lune,” by Robert Johnson from his Journal, April 8, 1808
  • 4.2 Cartoon by Robert Johnson from his Journal, April 8, 1808
  • 4.3 Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, London
  • 4.4 “Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray,” unknown artist (formerly attributed to John Zoffany), c. 1780
  • 4.5 “The Morse and Cator Family,” by John Zoffany, c. 1783
  • 4.6 “Nathaniel Middleton,” by Tilly Kettle, c. 1773
  • 4.7 “William Davidson,” by R. Cooper, c. 1820
  • 4.8 “Robert Wedderburn,” 1824..306
  • 5.1 “Sir Thomas Picton,” c. 1810
  • 5.2 Calderon’s Torture, from The Trial of Governor Picton
  • 5.3 Calderon’s Torture, and “Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave,” by William Blake, 1793
  • 6.1 “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” by Josiah Wedgwood, 1787

List of Tables

  • 1.1 Racial Classification of the Mothers of Mixed-Race Children with White Fathers, by Percentage, 1770-1820
  • 1.2 Percentages of Interracial Parents vs. Two Parents of Color Amongst Mixed-Race Children in Jamaica, 1730-1820
  • 2.1 Percentage of white men’s wills, proven in Jamaica, with bequests for mixed-race children in Britain (either presently resident, or soon to be sent there), 1773-1815
  • 2.2 Percentage of white men’s wills with acknowledged mixed-race children, proven In Jamaica, that include bequests for mixed-race children in Britain (either presently resident, or soon to be sent there), 1773-1815.131
  • 2.3 Professions of testators sending mixed-race children to Britain, by percentage, 1773-1815
  • 2.4 Destinations of mixed-race Jamaicans, by percentage, 1773-1815
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