Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-03-21 15:00Z by Steven

Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism

University of Minnesota Press
October 2012
256 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8166-7918-8
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-7917-1

Habiba Ibrahim, Associate Professor of English
University of Washington

Troubling the Family argues that the emergence of multiracialism during the 1990s was determined by underlying and unacknowledged gender norms. Opening with a germinal moment for multiracialism—the seemingly massive and instantaneous popular appearance of Tiger Woods in 1997—Habiba Ibrahim examines how the shifting status of racial hero for both black and multiracial communities makes sense only by means of an account of masculinity.

Ibrahim looks across historical events and memoirs (beginning with the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967 when miscegenation laws were struck down) to reveal that gender was the starting point of an analytics that made categorical multiracialism, and multiracial politics, possible. Producing a genealogy of multiracialism’s gendered basis allows Ibrahim to focus on a range of stakeholders whose interests often ran against the grain of what the multiracial movement of the 1990s often privileged—the sanctity of the heteronormative family, the labor of child rearing, and more precise forms of racial tabulation—all of which, when taken together, could form the basis for creating so-called neutral personhood.

Ibrahim concludes with a consideration of Barack Obama as a representation of the resurrection of the assurance that multiracialism extended into the 2000s: a version of personhood with no memory of its own gendered legacy, and with no self-account of how it became so masculine that it can at once fill the position of political leader and the promise of the end of politics.


  • Introduction: The Rising Son of Multiracialism
  • 1. Multiracial Timelines: A Genealogy of Personhood
  • 2. Legitimizing the Deviant Family: Loving vs. Virginia and the Moynihan Report
  • 3. The Whiteness of Maternal Memoirs: Politicizing the Multiracial Child
  • 4. Ambivalent Outcomes: Blackness and the Return of Racial Passing
  • Conclusion: Dreams of the Father and Potentials Lost
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
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Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism

Posted in Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2013-02-04 18:14Z by Steven

Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism

University of Minnesota Press
328 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8166-5105-4; ISBN-10: 0-8166-5105-1
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-5104-7; ISBN-10: 0-8166-5104-3

Jared Sexton, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Film & Media Studies
University of California, Irvine

Questions the ramifications of multiracialism for progressive social change.

Despite being heralded as the answer to racial conflict in the post–civil rights United States, the principal political effect of multiracialism is neither a challenge to the ideology of white supremacy nor a defiance of sexual racism. More accurately, Jared Sexton argues in Amalgamation Schemes, multiracialism displaces both by evoking long-standing tenets of antiblackness and prescriptions for normative sexuality.

In this timely and penetrating analysis, Sexton pursues a critique of contemporary multiracialism, from the splintered political initiatives of the multiracial movement to the academic field of multiracial studies, to the melodramatic media declarations about “the browning of America.” He contests the rationales of colorblindness and multiracial exceptionalism and the promotion of a repackaged family values platform in order to demonstrate that the true target of multiracialism is the singularity of blackness as a social identity, a political organizing principle, and an object of desire. From this vantage, Sexton interrogates the trivialization of sexual violence under chattel slavery and the convoluted relationship between racial and sexual politics in the new multiracial consciousness.

An original and challenging intervention, Amalgamation Schemes posits that multiracialism stems from the conservative and reactionary forces determined to undo the gains of the modern civil rights movement and dismantle radical black and feminist politics.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: On the Verge of Race
  • 1. Beyond the Event Horizon: The Multiracial Project
  • 2. Scales of Coercion and Consent: Sexual Violence, Antimiscegenation, and the Limits of Multiracial America
  • 3. There Is No (Interracial) Sexual Relationship
  • 4. The Consequence of Race Mixture
  • 5. The True Names of Race: Blackness and Antiblackness in Global Contexts
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index
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Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-01-07 19:48Z by Steven

Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story

University of Minnesota Press
272 pages
23 b&w plates, 6 x 9
cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-6678-2

George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies and Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Considered by many to be the godfather of R&B, Johnny Otis—musician, producer, artist, entrepreneur, pastor, disc jockey, writer, and tireless fighter for racial equality—has had a remarkable life by any measure. In this first biography of Otis, George Lipsitz tells the largely unknown story of a towering figure in the history of African American music and culture who was, by his own description, “black by persuasion.”

Born to Greek immigrant parents in Vallejo, California, in 1921, Otis grew up in an integrated neighborhood and identified deeply with black music and culture from an early age. He moved to Los Angeles as a young man and submerged himself in the city’s vibrant African American cultural life, centered on Central Avenue and its thriving music scene. Otis began his six-decade career in music playing drums in territory swing bands in the 1930s. He went on to lead his own band in the 1940s and open the Barrelhouse nightclub in Watts. His R&B band had seventeen Top 40 hits between 1950 and 1969, including “Willie and the Hand Jive.” As a producer and A&R man, Otis discovered such legends as Etta James, Jackie Wilson, and Big Mama Thornton.

Otis also wrote a column for the Sentinel, one of L.A.’s leading black newspapers, became pastor of his own interracial church, hosted popular radio and television shows that introduced millions to music by African American artists, and was lauded as businessman of the year in a 1951 cover story in Negro Achievements magazine. Throughout his career Otis’s driving passion has been his fearless and unyielding opposition to racial injustice, whether protesting on the front lines, exposing racism and championing the accomplishments of black Americans, or promoting African American musicians.

Midnight at the Barrelhouse is a chronicle of a life rich in both incident and inspiration, as well as an exploration of the complicated nature of race relations in twentieth-century America. Otis’s total commitment to black culture and transcendence of racial boundaries, Lipsitz shows, teach important lessons about identity, race, and power while encapsulating the contradictions of racism in American society.

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Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2012-06-27 03:20Z by Steven

Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction

University of Minnesota Press
July 2012
336 pages
9 b&w photos
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
paper ISBN: 978-0-8166-7099-4
cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-7098-7

Diana Rebekkah Paulin, Associate Professor of English and American Studies
Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut

Imperfect Unions examines the vital role that nineteenth- and twentieth-century dramatic and literary enactments played in the constitution and consolidation of race in the United States. Diana Rebekkah Paulin investigates how these representations produced, and were produced by, the black–white binary that informed them in a wide variety of texts written across the period between the Civil War and World War I—by Louisa May Alcott, Thomas Dixon, J. Rosamond Johnson, Charles Chesnutt, James Weldon Johnson, William Dean Howells, and many others.

Paulin’s “miscegenated reading practices” reframe the critical cultural roles that drama and fiction played during this significant half century. She demonstrates the challenges of crossing intellectual boundaries, echoing the crossings—of race, gender, nation, class, and hemisphere—that complicated the black–white divide at the turn of the twentieth century and continue to do so today.
Imperfect Unions reveals how our ongoing discussions about race are also dialogues about nation formation. As the United States attempted to legitimize its own global ascendancy, the goal of eliminating evidence of inferiority became paramount. At the same time, however, the foundation of the United States was linked to slavery that served as reminders of its “mongrel” origins.


  • Introduction. Setting the Stage: The Black–White Binary in an Imperfect Union
  • 1. Under the Covers of Forbidden Desire: Interracial Unions as Surrogates
  • 2. Clear Definitions for an Anxious World: Late Nineteenth-Century Surrogacy
  • 3. Staging the Unspoken Terror
  • 4. The Remix: Afro-Indian Intimacies
  • 5. The Futurity of Miscegenation
  • Conclusion: The “Sex Factor”and Twenty-first Century Stagings of MiscegeNation
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
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Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-03-28 15:35Z by Steven

Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England

University of Minnesota Press
296 pages
25 b&w photos, 2 tables
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8166-6578-5
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-6577-8

Jean M. O’Brien, (White Earth Ojibwe) Professor of History
University of Minnesota

Across nineteenth-century New England, antiquarians and community leaders wrote hundreds of local histories about the founding and growth of their cities and towns. Ranging from pamphlets to multivolume treatments, these narratives shared a preoccupation with establishing the region as the cradle of an Anglo-Saxon nation and the center of a modern American culture. They also insisted, often in mournful tones, that New England’s original inhabitants, the Indians, had become extinct, even though many Indians still lived in the very towns being chronicled.

In Firsting and Lasting, Jean M. O’Brien argues that local histories became a primary means by which European Americans asserted their own modernity while denying it to Indian peoples. Erasing and then memorializing Indian peoples also served a more pragmatic colonial goal: refuting Indian claims to land and rights. Drawing on more than six hundred local histories from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island written between 1820 and 1880, as well as censuses, monuments, and accounts of historical pageants and commemorations, O’Brien explores how these narratives inculcated the myth of Indian extinction, a myth that has stubbornly remained in the American consciousness.

In order to convince themselves that the Indians had vanished despite their continued presence, O’Brien finds that local historians and their readers embraced notions of racial purity rooted in the century’s scientific racism and saw living Indians as “mixed” and therefore no longer truly Indian. Adaptation to modern life on the part of Indian peoples was used as further evidence of their demise. Indians did not—and have not—accepted this effacement, and O’Brien details how Indians have resisted their erasure through narratives of their own. These debates and the rich and surprising history uncovered in O’Brien’s work continue to have a profound influence on discourses about race and indigenous rights.

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The Inner Life of Mestizo Nationalism

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation on 2011-12-03 02:17Z by Steven

The Inner Life of Mestizo Nationalism

University of Minnesota Press
272 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8166-5005-7
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8166-5004-0

Estelle Tarica, Associate Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture
University of California, Berkeley

The only recent English-language work on Spanish-American indigenismo from a literary perspective, Estelle Tarica’s work shows how modern Mexican and Andean discourses about the relationship between Indians and non-Indians create a unique literary aesthetic that is instrumental in defining the experience of mestizo nationalism.

Engaging with narratives by JesĂșs Lara, JosĂ© MarĂ­a Arguedas, and Rosario Castellanos, among other thinkers, Tarica explores the rhetorical and ideological aspects of interethnic affinity and connection. In her examination, she demonstrates that these connections posed a challenge to existing racial hierarchies in Spanish America by celebrating a new kind of national self at the same time that they contributed to new forms of subjection and discrimination.

Going beyond debates about the relative merits of indigenismo and mestizaje, Tarica puts forward a new perspective on indigenista literature and modern mestizo identities by revealing how these ideologies are symptomatic of the dilemmas of national subject formation. The Inner Life of Mestizo Nationalism offers insight into the contemporary resurgence and importance of indigenista discourses in Latin America.

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The Impure Imagination: Toward a Critical Hybridity in Latin American Writing

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs on 2010-01-23 02:44Z by Steven

The Impure Imagination: Toward a Critical Hybridity in Latin American Writing

University of Minnesota Press
288 pages
5 7⁄8 x 9
Paper ISBN: 0-8166-4786-0; ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4786-6
Cloth ISBN: 0-8166-4785-2; ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4785-9

Joshua Lund, Associate Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literature
University of Pittsburgh

Challenges conventional thinking about the widely accepted concept of cultural hybridity.

“Hybridity” is a term that has been applied to Latin American politics, literature, and intellectual life for more than a century. During the past two decades, it has figured in—and been transfigured by—the work of prominent postcolonialist writers and thinkers throughout the Americas.

In this pathbreaking work, Joshua Lund offers a thoughtful critique of hybridity by reading contemporary theories of cultural mixing against their historical precursors. The Impure Imagination is the first book to systematically analyze today’s dominant theories in relation to earlier, narrative manifestations of hybridity in Latin American writing, with a particular focus on Mexico and Brazil.

Generally understood as the impurification of standard or canonized forms, hybridity has historically been embraced as a basic marker of Latin American regional identity and as a strategy of resistance to cultural imperialism. Lund contends that Latin American theories and narratives of hybridity have been, and continue to be, underwritten by a structure of colonial power. Here he provides an informed critique and cogent investigation of this connection, its cultural effects, and its political implications. Using the emergence of hybridity as an analytical frame for thinking about culture in the Americas, Lund examines the contributions of influential thinkers, including NĂ©stor GarcĂ­a Canclini, Homi Bhabha, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Jorge Luis Borges, Antonio Candido, and many others.

Distinguished by its philosophical grounding and underpinned with case studies, The Impure Imagination employs postcolonial theory and theories of race as it explores Latin American history and culture. The result is an original and interrogative study of hybridity that exposes surprising—and unsettling—similarities with nationalistic discourses.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: The Stakes of Hybridity
  • Part I: Theorizing Hybridity Today
    • 1. Genres Are Not to Be Mixed
    • 2. Erasing Race and the Persistence of Teleology
    • 3. The Ambivalence of Theorizing Hybridity: Coloniality and Anthropology
  • Part II: Mexico
    • 4. New Cultural History and the Rise of Mediation
    • 5. Back Toward a Positive Mestizaje
    • 6. They Were Not a Barbarous Tribe
    • 7. Mestizaje and Post-Revolutionary Malaise: Vasconcelos and Azuela
  • Part III: Brazil
    • 8. The Brazilian Family
    • 9. On the Myth of Racial Democracy
    • 10. The Iracema-effect in Casa-grande e Senzala
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Undoing Empire: Race and Nation in the Mulatto Caribbean

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2009-11-08 19:20Z by Steven

Undoing Empire: Race and Nation in the Mulatto Caribbean

University of Minnesota Press
336 pages, 27 halftones
5 7/8 x 9
Paper ISBN: 0-8166-3574-9
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-3574-0
Cloth ISBN: 0-8166-3573-0
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-3573-3

José F. Buscaglia-Salgado, Professor and Chair of Cultures, Societies and Global Studies
Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts

A revelatory account that places mulatto experience at the center of Caribbean history.

This ambitious book brings to light the story of what José F. Buscaglia-Salgado terms mulataje-the ways Caribbean aesthetics offer the possibility of the ultimate erasure of racial difference. Undoing Empire gives a broad panorama stretching from the complex politics of medieval Iberian societies to the beginning of direct U.S. hegemony in the Caribbean at the end of the nineteenth century.

Buscaglia-Salgado begins with an examination of Washington Irving‘s “American Columbiad” as an act of historical and territorial plundering. He then traces the roots of mulatto society to the pre-1492 Iberian world, not only finding a connection between the Moors of “Old Spain” and the morenos-the blacks and mulattos of the New World-but also offering a profound critique of creole and imperial discourses. Buscaglia-Salgado reads the pursuit and contestation of what he terms the European Ideal in colonial texts, architecture, and paintings; then identifies the mulatto movement of “undoing” the Ideal in the wars that shook the nineteenth-century Caribbean from Haiti to Cuba, arguing that certain projects of national liberation have moved contrary to the historical claims to freedom in the mulatto world.

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Pure Beauty: Judging Race in Japanese American Beauty Pageants

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2009-11-05 02:08Z by Steven

Pure Beauty: Judging Race in Japanese American Beauty Pageants

University of Minnesota Press
280 pages, 6 halftones, 10 tables
5 7⁄8 x 9
Paper ISBN: 0-8166-4790-9
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4790-3
Cloth ISBN: 0-8166-4789-5
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4789-7

Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain, Lecturer in Sociology
National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Examines the question, Who is Japanese American?

With a low rate of immigration and a high rate of interracial marriage, Japanese Americans today compose the Asian ethnic group with the largest proportion of mixed-race members. Within Japanese American communities, increased participation by mixed-race members, along with concerns about overassimilation, has led to a search for cultural authenticity, giving new answers to the question, Who is Japanese American?

In Pure Beauty, Rebecca Chiyoko King-O’Riain tackles this question by studying a cultural institution: Japanese American community beauty pageants in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Honolulu. King-O’Riain employs rich ethnographic fieldwork to discover how these pageants seek to maintain racial and ethnic purity amid shifting notions of cultural identity. She uses revealing in-depth interviews with candidates, queens, and community members, her experiences as a pageant committee member, and archival research—including Japanese and English newspapers, museum collections, private photo albums, and mementos—to establish both the importance and impossibility of racial purity. King-O’Riain examines racial eligibility rules and tests, which encompass not only ancestry but also residency, community service, and culture, and traces the history of pageants throughout the United States. Pure Beauty shows how racial and gendered meanings are enacted through the pageants, and reveals their impact on Japanese American men, women, and children.

King-O’Riain concludes that the mixed-race challenge to racial understandings of Japanese Americanness does not necessarily mean an end to race as we know it and asserts that race is work—created and re-created in a social context. Ultimately, she determines that the concept of race, fragile though it may be, is still one of the categories by which Japanese Americans are judged.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction: Negotiating Racial Hybridity in Community Beauty Pageants
  1. Race Work and the Effort of Racial Claims
  2. The Japanese American Community in Transition
  3. Japanese American Beauty Pageants in Historical Perspective
  4. Cultural Impostors and Eggs: Race without Culture and Culture without Race
  5. Patrolling Bodies: The Social Control of Race through Gender
  6. The “Ambassadress” Queen: Moving Authentically between Racial Communities in the United States and Japan
  7. Percentages, Parts, and Power: Racial Eligibility Rules and Local Versions of Japanese Americanness in Context
  • Conclusion: Japanese Americanness, Beauty Pageants, and Race Work
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Mestizaje: Critical Uses of Race in Chicano Culture

Posted in Books, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2009-11-05 01:43Z by Steven

Mestizaje: Critical Uses of Race in Chicano Culture

University of Minnesota Press
272 pages
15 halftones; 5 7⁄8 x 9
Paper ISBN: 0-8166-4595-7
Paper ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4595-4
Cloth ISBN: 0-8166-4594-9
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-0-8166-4594-7

Rafael Pérez-Torres, Professor and Chair of English
University of California, Los Angeles

A major reassessment of how mixed-race identity affects Chicano culture and politics.

Focusing on the often unrecognized role race plays in expressions of Chicano culture, Mestizaje is a provocative exploration of the volatility and mutability of racial identities. In this important moment in Chicano studies, Rafael PĂ©rez-Torres reveals how the concepts and realities of race, historical memory, the body, and community have both constrained and opened possibilities for forging new and potentially liberating multiracial identities.

Informed by a broad-ranging theoretical investigation of identity politics and race and incorporating feminist and queer critiques, Pérez-Torres skillfully analyzes Chicano cultural production. Contextualizing the history of mestizaje, he shows how the concept of mixed race has been used to engage issues of hybridity and voice and examines the dynamics that make mestizo and mestiza identities resistant to, as well as affirmative of, dominant forms of power. He also addresses the role that mestizaje has played in expressive culture, including the hip-hop music of Cypress Hill and the vibrancy of Chicano poster art. Turning to issues of mestizaje in literary creation, Pérez-Torres offers critical readings of the works of Emma Pérez, Gil Cuadros [1962-1996], and Sandra Cisneros, among others. This book concludes with a consideration of the role that the mestizo body plays as a site of elusive or displaced knowledge.

Moving beyond the oppositions—nationalism versus assimilation, men versus women, Texans versus Californians—that have characterized much of Chicano studies, Mestizaje synthesizes and assesses twenty-five years of pathbreaking thinking to make a case for the core components, sensibilities, and concerns of the discipline.

Table of Contents


PART I. Creating Mestizaje
1. The Critical Mixture of Race
2. The Mestizo Voice

PART II. Fashioning Mestizaje
3. Popular Music and Postmodern Mestizaje
4. Land and Race in Chicano Public Art

PART III. Challenging Mestizaje
5. The Transgressive Body and Sexual Mestizaje
6. Narrative and Loss

Works Cited

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