Race, sex, and colonialism

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive on 2014-10-20 20:43Z by Steven

Race, sex, and colonialism

OUPblog: Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World
2014-10-20

Carina Ray, Associate Professor of History
Fordham University

As an Africanist historian committed to reaching broader publics, I was thrilled when the research team for the BBC’s genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? contacted me late last February about an episode they were working on that involved the subject of some of my research, mixed race relationships in colonial Ghana. I was even more pleased when I realized that their questions about shifting practices and perceptions of intimate relationships between African women and European men in the Gold Coast, as Ghana was then known, were ones I had just explored in a newly published American Historical Review article, which I readily shared with them. This led to a month-long series of lengthy email exchanges, phone conversations, Skype chats, and eventually to an invitation to come to Ghana to shoot the Who Do You Think You Are? episode.

After landing in Ghana in early April, I quickly set off for the coastal town of Sekondi where I met the production team, and the episode’s subject, Reggie Yates, a remarkable young British DJ, actor, and television presenter. Reggie had come to Ghana to find out more about his West African roots, but he discovered along the way that his great grandfather was a British mining accountant who worked in the Gold Coast for close to a decade. His great grandmother, Dorothy Lloyd, was a mixed-race Fante woman whose father — Reggie’s great-great grandfather — was rumored to be a British district commissioner at the turn of the century in the Gold Coast.

The episode explores the nature of the relationship between Dorothy and George, who were married by customary law around 1915 in the mining town of Broomassi, where George worked as the paymaster at the local mine. George and Dorothy set up house in Broomassi and raised their infant son, Harry, there for two years before George left the Gold Coast in 1917 for good. Although their marriage was relatively short lived, it appears that Dorothy’s family and the wider community that she lived in regarded it as a respectable union and no social stigma was attached to her or Harry after George’s departure from the coast…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Who Here Is A Negro?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-20 20:20Z by Steven

Who Here Is A Negro?

Michigan Quarterly Review
Volume 53, Issue 1 (Winter 2014)

Martha S. Jones, Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

Last fall I made a migration south. The promise of a year’s sabbatical and an escape from the demands of teaching and administration lured me from my Midwestern academic post. “North Carolina?” my friends queried, their pursed lips conveying disapproval. I understood. Recently, North Carolina had earned distinction as the state most reviled by the left (edging out Arizona.) Deservedly so. We decried the legislature as it eviscerated what remained of the state’s liberal policies. North Carolina was quick to act when the US Supreme Court green-lighted the gutting of voting rights protections. “For shame,” my friends chided. I did not disagree.

But that was not my North Carolina, I insisted. My North Carolina was the land of my forbears. The Joneses had called Alamance and Guilford counties home since at least the 1820s, nearly two centuries. My North Carolina was the bucolic lawns and magnolia trees of a black college campus. It was afternoons in the hammock with a new comic book. My North Carolina was a cool bowl of orange sherbet on the steps of the back porch. It was fireflies dancing across the lawn at dusk. It was friends and neighbors, black men and women, who raised me up. It was my grandmother—Musie to us—who loved me fiercely. My North Carolina was heart. It was home.

In late July, just weeks before making the trek down I-95, memories of my summers spent in Greensboro came tiptoeing back. Had I brushed off too easily my friends’ trepidations? North Carolina was home, but perhaps over time I had idealized the place. Summers in the South were not always easy. My mother and father never said why they’d shipped me off from New York each June as elementary school ended. I thought they were mostly eager for a respite. Off went their three high-spirited kids to grandmother for a spell. I imagined them breathing a sigh, raising a glass, and grabbing a nap just as soon as we were out the door. It was a holiday for everyone. But, it was also the occasion for lessons about how I, a mixed-race girl, fit into a world fractured into black and white. Instructions about race, its politics and its etiquette, awaited us at Musie’s house…

Read the entire essay here.

Tags: ,

The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada by Joanne Rappaport (review) [Roland review]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2014-10-20 17:50Z by Steven

The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada by Joanne Rappaport (review) [Roland review]

Journal of Latin American Geography
Volume 13, Number 3, 2014
pages 253-255
DOI: 10.1353/lag.2014.0045

L. Kaifa Roland, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of Colorado, Boulder

Joanne Rappaport, The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014)

Joanne Rappaport’s The Disappearing Mestizo is an important interrogation of the sixteenth and seventeenth century archives in service of detailing the construction of an enduring socio-racial category encountered throughout Latin America. What is a mestizo, or as Rappaport challenges: when, where, and for whom was the mestizo category activated?

As students of Latin American race are aware, mestizaje is understood to describe the condition of racial mixture, usually involving European and indigenous parentage. However, Rappaport finds the question of “impure blood” that mestizaje seems to indicate moves in and out of focus at various times, depending on a variety of contexts. “But must we confine our understanding of mestizaje to the offspring of mixed unions? In the early modern period, mixture resulted not only from sexual encounters but also from other sorts of activities, both public and intimate in character. That is, mixing was not necessarily genealogical in nature” (p.18). She invokes the title trope of “the disappearing mestizo” to address the instability of the category, and expertly engages the archives to ethnographically portray several men and women to whom the contentious label was ascribed in court cases.

After introducing some of the “characters” readers will meet in the course of the book (also denoted in the appendix), Rappaport highlights her strong interdisciplinary approach, while acknowledging the limitations of working with archival data in her ethnographic construction of colonial history. She concedes that she only has information on her subjects for the fragments of time that they enter the legal archives, filling in other parts from available genealogical records in the region. Rather than forcing the evidence to fit the model, she interrogates the record and asks questions of gaps left in the wake of absent data.

The greatest strength of the book is in its storytelling and the sensitive portrayal of historic individuals labeled or contesting the label of mestizo who were encountered in the archives. In chapter one, Rappaport introduces a series of vignettes in order to dismiss the notion that the “disappearing mestizo” phenomenon is an attempt at “passing” from one racial category to another. Rather, she finds individuals contesting or reinforcing classifications associated with Spanishness or indigenousness using color, gender, religion, and status to make the case. Given this fluidity, it can be anticipated that the second chapter’s inquiry into whether mestizos constituted a community is answered in the negative. While mestizo men, in particular, often found themselves on the fringes of society given their exclusion from both Spanish and indigenous society, they often associated with other marginalized individuals—and thus became associated with marginal behaviors like assaults, rapes, and kidnapping (p.87).

While distinctions in gendered experiences are discussed throughout the book, chapter three stands out in the book for the way it highlights why it was often easier for women to transcend mestizaje than it was for men. Certainly, marriage provided mestiza-born women access to different forms of mobility than it did for men, but Rappaport also emphasizes the importance in colonial Spanish society of honor and reputation—especially so in the New World where noble lineages were established through more diverse means than in the Old World. Whereas women could largely be absorbed into Spanish or indigenous communities without upsetting the system too much, men had to be categorized by their particular role in the tribute system. In trying to determine why mestizo men found themselves excluded from sites of power, Rappaport may rely too much on the question of bloodline and biological relationships given her earlier arguments about how mestizaje also took account of issues of cultural mixture like how one comports oneself in public or marriage pairings.

Chapter four turns the attention from mestizos contending with their elite Spanish heritage, to mestizos fighting to be recognized among the chiefly indigenous cacique class. Rappaport introduces readers to two men who try to use their mestizo status to their advantage—arguing their Catholic religion and Spanish practices would help them better “civilize” their indigenous subjects. Their quest is complicated, however, by the position they take in defending the indigenous from unfair tributes, such that they find anti-mestizo opposition from the various groups who benefit from the tribute…

Tags: , ,

The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2014-10-20 15:18Z by Steven

The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada

Duke University Press
2014
368 pages
6 illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5629-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-5636-3

Joanne Rappaport, Professor of Anthropology, and Spanish and Portuguese
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Much of the scholarship on difference in colonial Spanish America has been based on the “racial” categorizations of indigeneity, Africanness, and the eighteenth-century Mexican castas system. Adopting an alternative approach to the question of difference, Joanne Rappaport examines what it meant to be mestizo (of mixed parentage) in the early colonial era. She draws on lively vignettes culled from the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century archives of the New Kingdom of Granada (modern-day Colombia) to show that individuals classified as “mixed” were not members of coherent sociological groups. Rather, they slipped in and out of the mestizo category. Sometimes they were identified as mestizos, sometimes as Indians or Spaniards. In other instances, they identified themselves by attributes such as their status, the language that they spoke, or the place where they lived. The Disappearing Mestizo suggests that processes of identification in early colonial Spanish America were fluid and rooted in an epistemology entirely distinct from modern racial discourses.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Author’s Note on Transcriptions, Translations, Archives, and Spanish Naming Practices
  • Introduction
  • 1. Mischievous Lovers, Hidden Moors, and Cross-Dressers: Defining Race in the Colonial Era
  • 2. Mestizo Networks: Did “Mestizo” Constitute a Group?
  • 3. Hiding in Plain Sight: Gendering Mestizos
  • 4. Good Blood and Spanish Habits: The Making of a Mestizo Cacique
  • 5. “Asi lo Paresçe por su Aspeto”: Physiognomy and the Construction of Difference in Colonial Santafé
  • 6. The Problem of Caste Conclusion
  • Appendix: Cast of Characters
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
Tags: , ,

Little White Lie at DOC NYC

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Religion, United States, Videos on 2014-10-19 23:47Z by Steven

Little White Lie at DOC NYC

DOC NYC
2014-11-13 through 2014-11-20
New York, New York

Showtimes

IFC Center
323 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10014
(212) 924-7771

Sunday, 2014-11-16, 19:00 EST (Local Time)
Wednesday, 2014-11-19, 10:45 EST (Local Time)

Official Site: http://www.littlewhiteliethefilm.com
Producer: Lacey Schwartz, Mehret Mandefro
Cinematographer: James Adolphus
Editor: Toby Shimin, Erik Dugger
Music: Kathryn Bostic
Running Time: 66
Language: Englsih
Country: USA

Growing up in an upper-middle-class Jewish household, Lacey Schwartz knew she looked different from the rest of her family, but her darker complexion and curly hair were brushed off as traits inherited from her Sicilian grandfather. When she finally begins to dig deeper, Lacey uncovers unspoken family secrets and willful denial that cuts to the core of her very sense of self, inspiring an intriguing re-evaluation and redefinition of identity.

Filmmaker is expected to be in person for both screenings.

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , ,

Albert Chong: “The Photomosaics: Works on Paper, Wood, and Stone”, on view through November 1, 2014

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Forthcoming Media, United States on 2014-10-19 23:21Z by Steven

Albert Chong: “The Photomosaics: Works on Paper, Wood, and Stone”, on view through November 1, 2014

Counterpath
613 22nd Street
Denver, Colorado 80205
(303) 953-2692
2014-10-03 through 2014-11-01


“Angela” (2011) by Albert Chong

Opening Friday, October 3, 2014, at 7 p.m., and on view through November 1, 2014, Counterpath is excited to host an exhibit of recent work by Albert Chong, “The Photomosaics: Works on Paper, Wood, and Stone.” The work consists of image transfers onto gridded ceramic or stone tiles that combine to make up a larger image. Included are blatantly political portraits of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, made from portraits of thousands of dead soldiers, to a portrait of activist and former Black Panther Party member Angela Davis, her iconic afro consisting of thousands of portraits of African American women with processed hair. Photomosaics have the mass and presence of sculpture and the transmissive abilities of photography.

For more information, click here.

Tags: , ,

I raised my sons to be racially neutral

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-19 22:47Z by Steven

I raised my sons to be racially neutral

Salon
2014-10-18

Terry Baker Mulligan

Two mixed-race boys, one lighter skinned than the other. Did I make a mistake telling them they were the same?

One Saturday night in St. Louis about decade ago my younger son, then a teen, was driving around town with two white friends. I’m black and my husband is white, so our two sons are biracial. This particular son has his father’s straight hair and aquiline nose. His skin is brown like mine.

The friend in the back seat behind my son stuck a paint pellet gun out the back window and shot a stop sign. He didn’t see two police cars parked just ahead. The cops hustled out of their squad cars and did the “Whoa, what the ‘F’ are you doing?” routine. The kids were taken to the police station, the gun was confiscated, and eventually all the parents were called to come to the station.

Back up about eight years. As a young family, we usually didn’t talk about race or even acknowledge it, because at the time we didn’t see the need. Then one night at the dinner table I got my first reality check when our younger boy, who was 7 at the time, said, “Dad, I want white skin and braces. And a new first name, like Michael.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-19 22:12Z by Steven

Ebola has exposed America’s fear, and Barack Obama’s vulnerability

The Guardian
2014-10-19

Gary Younge

The virus is a metaphor for all that conservatives loathe, and sees the president’s policies under renewed attack

In a column ostensibly explaining why moderates struggle in the Republican party, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen last year wrote: “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York – a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts – but not all – of America.”

If the thought of New York’s first family’s interracial marriage makes many Republicans (and apparently Cohen) gag, imagine how many sick bags they are filling over Ebola. The arrival of the virus in America has crystallised a range of Conservative anxieties: immigration, race, terrorism, science, big government, Barack Obama – you name it. For the right, Ebola is not just a disease, it is a metaphor for some of the things they don’t understand and many of the things they loathe…

…Finally, Ebola serves as a proxy for the many long-held Conservative prejudices about Obama – that he is an African-born interloper come to destroy America. A 2010 poll showed that just under a third of Republicans believed Obama was a “racist who hates white people”. Michael Savage, another rightwing radio host, calls him “Obola”. “Obama wants equality and he wants fairness, and it’s only fair that America have a nice epidemic or two … to really feel what it’s like to be in the third world. You have to look at it from the point of view of a leftist.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Who Do You Think You Are? [with Reggie Yates]

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Biography, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Videos on 2014-10-19 21:55Z by Steven

Who Do You Think You Are? Reggie Yates [with Reggie Yates]

Who Do You Think You Are?
BBC One
Series 11: Episode 8 of 10
Running Time: 00:59:09
First Aired: 2014-09-25

Presenter and DJ Reggie Yates grew up knowing very little about his father’s side of the family. Reggie sets out on the trail of his grandfather, Harry Philip Yates. His journey takes him to Ghana, where he unravels a complex family history where Ghanaian culture and British colonialism collide.

[Features Fordham University history professor Carina Ray.]

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Passing For White

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-10-19 21:40Z by Steven

Passing For White

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
2003-11-01

David Crary
The Associated Press

America is more diverse than ever and racial pride is strong, yet a new movie and book are highlighting a phenomenon that seems like a relic of the segregationist past — black people passing as white.

The film, The Human Stain, is an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel about a classics professor, played by Anthony Hopkins, who conceals his racial background.

The book, Passing: When People Can’t Be Who They Are, by Brooke Kroeger, includes a sympathetic profile of a black man who passed as a white Jew during the 1980s and ’90s.

Kroeger, a New York University journalism professor who spent four years researching her book, said passing has a profound resonance for many black Americans.

“Over and over, I’d hear personal stories about members of their family who didn’t return for reunions, who led clandestine lives,” she said.

“Traditionally, the attitude toward passing was you accepted it, you never exposed a passer. Post-1960s, when people are so proud of their racial and ethnic identities, it seems more like cultural treason, yet still people don’t give passers up.”

Paul Johnston, a retired X-ray technician, knows of passing firsthand. His parents, Albert and Thyra Johnston, passed as white along with Paul and his three older siblings while the family lived in two New Hampshire towns during the 1930s and ’40s. Albert was a physician in the community.

The truth of the Johnstons’ background came out in 1941, when Albert was rejected as a Navy officer. But despite the family’s fears, townspeople in Keene, N.H., were generally receptive to them even after the news spread, and the Johnstons’ experience was movingly depicted in a 1949 film, Lost Boundaries.

Paul Johnston, 68, is now married to a woman of Irish descent who has nine children from a previous marriage.

“Some of the kids were pretty prejudiced, but they grew to like me,” he said in a telephone interview. “They thought it was quite fascinating that something like this [his family's passing] would happen.”

Johnston, who says some of his relatives continue to pass for white, lives in a predominantly white town on Cape Cod.

“Almost nobody knows of my background, not because I’ve kept it a secret, just because I haven’t talked about it much except to a few people in my church,” he said. “I don’t think it would make any difference to people, but you never can tell.”…

…In The Human Stain, Roth’s fictional protagonist, Coleman Silk, was loosely modeled on the late Anatole Broyard, for many years a prominent literary critic for The New York Times

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,