The Influences Affecting and the Influential Effects of Multiracials: Multiracialism and Stratification

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-04-17 22:27Z by Steven

The Influences Affecting and the Influential Effects of Multiracials: Multiracialism and Stratification

Sociology Compass
Volume 8, Issue 1 (January 2014)
pages 63-77
DOI: 10.1111/soc4.12100

Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina

Early research on multiracials documents the existence of a newly emergent population, those who identify with more than one race or what is commonly now known as multiracials. Contemporary research on multiracialism has a new focus on the stratification that multiracials experience and how multiracials may be influencing a new racial hierarchy. This paper discusses some of the primary issues of multiracialism and stratification including colorism, the racial hierarchy, social class, gender and sexual orientation, and multiracial as a celebrity-like status. As the multiracial population grows, so must the field of multiracialism grows to include critical issues and questions regarding stratification.

Read the entire article here.

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Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, United States on 2014-04-17 01:53Z by Steven

Complicating Race or Reproducing Whiteness? Heidi Durrow and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity
2014-04-13

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

[This is an excerpt from a paper (currently being revised) that I presented last month at the 2014 MELUS Conference in Oklahoma City.]

[…] Heidi Durrow is also the latest member of the mixed-experience generation to achieve widespread recognition following the publication of her deeply autobiographical first novel. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was published in 2010 after winning the 2008 PEN/Bellwether Prize for a first novel that addresses social justice issues. It became a national bestseller in 2011, and is now available in French, Dutch, Danish, and Portuguese. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a book that was repeatedly rejected by the traditional publishing industry.

For those who are unfamiliar, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky recounts the racialization, alienation, coming of age, and coming to multiracial consciousness of Durrow’s fictional intermediary, Rachel Morse. Rachel is the sole survivor of a heartbreaking tragedy: her Danish mother Nella jumps from a rooftop in Chicago with all her biracial children. After recovering, Rachel is sent to live with her paternal grandmother who lives in a predominantly black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Her alcoholic father, an airman stationed overseas, has disappeared from her life. The year is 1982. Rachel is seen as a light-skinned black girl by her new family and by the surrounding community. From the 5th grade onward, she identifies herself as black, but is still ridiculed for talking white; she is both resented and desired for her good hair and blue eyes. In short, Durrow’s novel recounts from multiple perspectives how Rachel comes to understand the tragedy that claimed her mother and siblings, and in the process reclaim her Danish cultural memory, becoming Afro-Viking like Durrow…

Read the entire article here.

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“Only the News They Want to Print”: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-15 17:06Z by Steven

“Only the News They Want to Print”: Mainstream Media and Critical Mixed-Race Studies

Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014-01-30)
pages 162-182
ISSN: 2325-4521

Rainier Spencer, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Professor of Afro-American Studies
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This essay lauds the publication of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, then turns immediately to argue that the journal must focus itself on actively becoming the authoritative voice on mixed-race matters, while also speaking out against naive colorblindness and premature declarations of postraciality. This is crucial because the public receives its information on mixed-race identity from the mainstream media, which has a long historical record of inaccurate and damaging reporting on mixed race. Using the recent “Race Remixed” series in the New York Times as a contemporary example of this problem, the essay argues that it is imperative that mainstream media writers seek out and use scholarly input in the publication of their articles.

With the publication of this inaugural issue of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, the field of study demarcated by the journal’s title takes a major leap forward both materially and symbolically. The material leap has to do with the fact that there is now an academic publication devoted expressly to the field of critical mixed-race studies, a single source to go to for the latest in mixed-race research. Even though the journal certainly cannot publish everything in this field, and scholars will still find themselves combing through libraries and the Internet for newly published work, my hope is that this journal will nonetheless become the unquestioned touchstone of mixed-race scholarship. The symbolic leap, on the other hand, while related to the material one, has to do with the intangible satisfaction that attends to having “made it,” so to speak. While there is no difference between the good scholarly work done immediately prior to the launching of the journal and the good scholarly work we find in the pages of this issue, there is nevertheless a gratifying sense that “we”—those of us who work and publish in this area—now have a journal to call home. The importance of this should not be minimized…

…One crucial observation to make about mixed-race identity work over the past twenty years is that even though there has been phenomenal growth and change in the work itself, non-scholarly reporting on mixed race has not kept pace with those advancements. While scholarly studies of mixed race have proliferated, creating both the academic field and now this journal, and while mixed-race identity work has become more and more sophisticated, the quality of media coverage has remained ossified. In fact, mainstream media analysis of mixed-race identity in the United States is generally no different whether one reads an article from 1994, 2000, 2006, or 2012. Given its outsize impact on the general public, the dominant media in the United States is in fact a hegemonic entity. Its coverage of mixed-race identity has crucial effects on attitudes, opinions, and even public policy; therefore, the accuracy of its reporting is critical. For this reason, dominant media representation of multiraciality will be my main focus in this article as I consider the challenges it presents to critical mixed-race studies…

…The specific details being reported aside, the deeper structural problem with mainstream media stories on the alleged postracial power of mixed-race identity or the supposed significance of changing racial demographics is that the information presented is often one-sided, simplistic, geared to a tabloid sensibility, and does not reflect the multiform ways that edifices of power have race embedded within them, whether visible or not. It is a matter of sensationalism taking precedence over serious analysis. David Roediger identifies this tendency of providing sensationalism without substance, noting that “often multiracial identities and immigration take center stage as examples of factors making race obsolete” and that “we are often told popularly that race and racism are on predictable tracks to extinction. But we are seldom told clear or consistent stories about why white supremacy will give way and how race will become a ‘social virus’ of the past.” Roediger’s words highlight the importance of unmasking this postracial aspiration for what it is: an effort to provide comfort to a nation that is unwilling to do the hard work required to deal effectively with centuries of entrenched racism and the resultant consequences…

Read the entire article here.

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Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject

Posted in Biography, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Women on 2014-04-04 18:10Z by Steven

Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject

Duke University Press
2010
344 pages
51 illustrations, incl. 18 in color
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4247-2
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-4266-3

Kirsten Pai Buick, Associate Professor of Art History
University of New Mexico

Child of the Fire is the first book-length examination of the career of the nineteenth-century artist Mary Edmonia Lewis, best known for her sculptures inspired by historical and biblical themes. Throughout this richly illustrated study, Kirsten Pai Buick investigates how Lewis and her work were perceived, and their meanings manipulated, by others and the sculptor herself. She argues against the racialist art discourse that has long cast Lewis’s sculptures as reflections of her identity as an African American and Native American woman who lived most of her life abroad. Instead, by seeking to reveal Lewis’s intentions through analyses of her career and artwork, Buick illuminates Lewis’s fraught but active participation in the creation of a distinct “American” national art, one dominated by themes of indigeneity, sentimentality, gender, and race. In so doing, she shows that the sculptor variously complicated and facilitated the dominant ideologies of the vanishing American (the notion that Native Americans were a dying race), sentimentality, and true womanhood.

Buick considers the institutions and people that supported Lewis’s career—including Oberlin College, abolitionists in Boston, and American expatriates in Italy—and she explores how their agendas affected the way they perceived and described the artist. Analyzing four of Lewis’s most popular sculptures, each created between 1866 and 1876, Buick discusses interpretations of Hiawatha in terms of the cultural impact of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha; Forever Free and Hagar in the Wilderness in light of art historians’ assumptions that artworks created by African American artists necessarily reflect African American themes; and The Death of Cleopatra in relation to broader problems of reading art as a reflection of identity.

Table of Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Preface. Framing the Problem: American Africanisms, American Indianisms, and the Processes of Art History
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Inventing the Artist: Locating the Black and Catholic Subject
  • 2. The “Problem” of Art History’s Black Subject
  • 3. Longfellow, Lewis, and the Cultural Work of Hiawatha
  • 4. Identity, Tautology, and The Death of Cleopatra
  • Conclusion. Separate and Unequal: Toward a More Responsive and Responsible Art History
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Transpacific Mixed-Race Literatures: A Reading and Dialogue (Sawyer Seminar IX)

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2014-04-04 03:07Z by Steven

Transpacific Mixed-Race Literatures: A Reading and Dialogue (Sawyer Seminar IX)

University of Southern California, University Park Campus
Ronald Tutor Campus Center (TCC)
Room 351/352
Sunday, 2014-04-06, 10:00-17:00 PDT (Local Time)

How do Transpacific mixed-race authors inscribe and represent their heritage in their artistic representations? Are there common tropes or literary forms that inform these novels? What type of analysis might emerge from putting writers in dialogue with critical theorists?

SESSION 1

Brian Castro, Professor and Chair of Creative Writing
University of Adelaide, Australia

Australian novelist of Chinese, Portuguese, and English descent; author of 12 novels including award-winning novels Birds of Passage (1982 Vogel Literary Award), Double-Wolf (1991 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction), Stepper (1997 National Book Council Prize), Shanghai Dancing (2004 Victoria and New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards), and The Garden Books (2005 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award).

Marilyne Brun, Lecturer
Université de Lorraine, France

Author of “Literary Doubles and Colonial Subjectivity: Brian Castro’s The Garden Book,” The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies (2012), “Racial Ambiguity and Whiteness in Brian Castro’s Drift,” Journal of the European Association for Studies on Australia (2011), and many other scholarly articles on the writings of Brian Castro.

SESSION 2

Kien Nguyen, Novelist

Novelist of Vietnamese and American heritage. Author of 3 novels: The Unwanted: A Memoir of Childhood (2001), The Tapestries (2002), and Le Colonial (2004).

Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies
San Francisco State University

Author of This is All I Choose to Tell: History and Hybridity in Vietnamese American Literature (Temple University Press, 2011).

SESSION 3

Paisley Rekdal, Professor of English
University of Utah

Writer of Chinese American and Norwegian heritage; author of four books of poetry, Crash of Rhinos (2000), Six Girls Without Pants (2002), The Invention of the Kaleidoscope (2007), and Animal Eye (2012), as well as a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee: Observations on Not Fitting In (2000). Her work has received a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and the University of Georgia Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series Award.

Viet Nguyen, Associate Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity
University of Southern California

Author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford, 2002).

Presented by the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture’s “Critical Mixed-Race Studies: A Transpacific Approach” Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminars Series at the University of Southern California.

For more information, click here.

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Empire, Race, and the Debate over the Indian Marriage Market in Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-03-31 17:49Z by Steven

Empire, Race, and the Debate over the Indian Marriage Market in Elizabeth Hamilton’s Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800)

Eighteenth-Century Fiction
Volume 26, Number 3, Spring 2014
pages 427-454
DOI: 10.1353/ecf.2014.0004

John C. Leffel, Assistant Professor of English
State University of New York, Cortland

In the late eighteenth century, East India Company stations were characterized as marriage “bazaars” in which Englishwomen were traded like any other merchandise. Women at the centre of such trafficking were depicted as complicit in their own commodification. In the face of such pervasive negative stereotyping, women returning to Britain after time spent on the subcontinent often found themselves ridiculed and shunned. In this article, I explore how author Elizabeth Hamilton (1758–1816) responded to this potent imperial stigma. She absorbed and perpetuated popular negative stereotypes regarding these matrimonial “speculators” in her own writing, but in her second novel, Memoirs of Modern Philosophers (1800), she subtly recalibrated her stance, in ways that illuminate the changing tenor of Anglo-Indian social, political, and sexual relations. By the turn of the nineteenth century, burgeoning discourses of racial difference and the perceived threat of sexual “miscegenation” in the empire became thoroughly entwined with debates regarding the “Indian marriage market” and female emigration.

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Jean Toomer and Cultural Pluralism

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-27 01:52Z by Steven

Jean Toomer and Cultural Pluralism

Gino Michael Pellegrini: Education, Race, Multiraciality, Class & Solidarity
2014-03-21

Gino Michael Pellegrini, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English
Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California

[This short paper was originally written for "Jean Toomer and Politics," a Special Session Roundtable at the 2012 MLA Conference in Seattle. I have made a few edits.]

In disagreeing with Rudolph Byrd and Henry Louis Gates Jr., I will not directly critique their support and rhetorical strategies. Instead, I will put forth my own interpretation of Toomer’s political vision. Toomer saw literature as his means to address socioeconomic inequalities, transform himself, and influence people in a manner that would advance the promise of democracy in America. We should ask then, not whether he identified as black or white, but what his political vision is, what it is not, and what it entails. Specifically, I argue that his political vision conflicts with the cultural pluralisms of his mentors, Alain Locke and Waldo Frank, and anticipates some postethnic, cosmopolitan, and multiracial perspectives that have emerged in recent history in strong opposition to the limitations and problems of multiculturalism…

Read the entire paper here.

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Playing Chinese Whispers: The Official ‘Gossip’ of Racial Whitening in Jorge Amado’s Tenda dos Milagres

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, New Media on 2014-03-26 17:36Z by Steven

Playing Chinese Whispers: The Official ‘Gossip’ of Racial Whitening in Jorge Amado’s Tenda dos Milagres

Forum for Modern Language Studies
Published online: 2014-03-26
DOI: 10.1093/fmls/cqu006

Helen Lima de Sousa, Santander Post-Doctoral Senior Studentship in Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies
Clare College, University of Cambridge

This article explores the possible inauthentic nature of official discourse, as political, religious or intellectual elites manipulate facts in a process that parallels the childhood game of Chinese Whispers. Considering this process of manipulation, and the false messages it produces, it is suggested that such discourses, while official, resemble the assumed inauthentic nature of gossip. Within the framework of this concept, the article explores the fusion of official and unofficial discourse in Jorge Amado’s novel Tenda dos milagres (1969). Initially analysing Amado’s fictionalization of the nineteenth-century Bahian doctor Raimundo Nina Rodrigues and his theories on racial whitening, the article subsequently investigates the continued manipulation of fact by the fictional Bahian political and intellectual elite of the 1960s as the image of the protagonist Pedro Archanjo is transformed, during the official posthumous celebrations of his life, from a poor mulatto who questioned the status quo, to an obedient, white intellectual.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Toni Morrison and the Burden of the Passing Narrative

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-03-20 21:33Z by Steven

Toni Morrison and the Burden of the Passing Narrative

African American Review
Volume 35, Number 2 (Summer, 2001)
pages 205-217

Juda Bennett, Associate Professor of English
The College of New Jersey

Passing for white, a phenomenon that once captivated writers as diverse as Charles Chesnutt, Sinclair Lewis, Nella Larsen, and Mark Twain, no longer seems to engage contemporary novelists. The long list of authors from the first half of the twentieth century, which includes canonical writers like William Faulkner and forgotten stars like Edna Ferber, is hardly balanced by the short list of contemporary writers who have addressed this figure of racial ambiguity. In considering the relative disappearance of the passing figure from contemporary literature, this essay begins with neither a clear and substantial presence nor a complete absence of passing in the work of one of our most important novelists, Toni Morrison.

In each of her seven novels and in her sole short story, Toni Morrison invokes the passing myth, sometimes in only one or two paragraphs and often with indirection. The Bluest Eye, for example, features a dark-skinned child who cannot possibly pass for white, yet Pecola ignores biology and becomes (if only to herself) a blue-eyed Shirley Temple. Although some might consider Pecola’s delusion a weak or perhaps specious representation of passing for white, The Bluest Eye artfully reinforces its interest in racial passing by alluding to Peola, the passing figure in Imitation of Life. This intertextual play effectively evokes the myth without actually representing the phenomenon of passing, and in this way
Morrison decenters and deforms the traditional passing figure. Why?

It is my hope that this overview, although focused on Morrison, will be suggestive of larger shifts in culture, politics, and aesthetics. Why, for example, has the passing figure, after holding a central place in the imaginations of early-twentieth-century writers, been consigned to the margins of late-twentieth-century novels concerned with race? Why did Nella Larsen and Langston Hughes address the subject directly, even entitling works Passing and “Who’s Passing for Who?” while Morrison approaches the subject indirectly and often in a subplot or through an allusion? Are there certain stories that are considered embarrassing, passe, or even dangerous? Are there stories, furthermore, that simply cannot be told or, rather, cannot be told simply?…

Read the entire article here.

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Archibald J. Motley, Jr.’s Paintings: Modern Art Shaped by Precision, Candor, and Soul

Posted in Articles, Arts, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-03-12 15:47Z by Steven

Archibald J. Motley, Jr.’s Paintings: Modern Art Shaped by Precision, Candor, and Soul

Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art & its Discontents
2014-03-09

Edward M. Gómez

A week ago, 12 Years A Slave won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the first time in the history of the Oscars that the top prize went to a film made by a black director. Recently, too, New York voters elected a white man who is married to a black woman; now the city’s “first family” vividly resembles the richly varied complexion of its multiracial, multiethnic population.

Against the backdrop of such belated examples of race-related “progress,” it is illuminating to flip through the pages of American cultural history and discover that almost a century ago, a black, classically trained modern artist, Archibald J. Motley, Jr., was using paint on canvas to address such nuanced subjects as the dignity of mixed-race persons and the skin-tone-based sensitivities that prevailed among his own people.

In Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, an exhibition on view at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, the life story and achievements of this modernist innovator are receiving some much-deserved attention. Organized by Duke art history professor Richard J. Powell, whose book, Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century (Thames and Hudson, 1997; reissued as Black Art: A Cultural History, 2002), has become a standard text in its field, the Nasher exhibition will remain on view through May 11 before embarking on a US tour that will end in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art late next year.

Motley (1891–1981), who is still not widely known today, was born in New Orleans and moved with his parents to Chicago when he was an infant. His father worked as a Pullman railway-carriage porter. After declining a scholarship to study architecture at Chicago’s Armour Institute, Archibald was accepted at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (where, it is interesting to note, the Armour Institute’s president paid his first-year tuition fees). Motley, whose teachers included the realist painter George Bellows, went on to produce a technically inventive body of work that assimilated various stylistic developments of early-20th-century modern art…

…Powell’s implication is that Motley’s ability to view the world around him from simultaneously different vantage points and to embrace contradictions was somehow postmodernist avant la lettre. Powell pointed out, “Motley came from a part of the country, New Orleans, where mixed-race people were not uncommon. Comprehending someone whose racial identity was mixed wasn’t so hard for him but he was color-struck; he was interested in this subject and gravitated toward people like ‘the octoroon girl,’ whom he found in an A&P supermarket and who became one of his sitters.”

Powell noted that Motley was not just keenly aware of how a person’s skin color could influence his or her place in society — and the privileges or prejudices that accompany it — but like other artists and intellectuals associated with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s-1930s (or “New Negro Movement,” as it was known at the time), he was also interested in the multidimensional nature of black racial identity and the forms of social and cultural expression that were associated with it.

Some historians have described the light-skinned Motley, whose own ancestry was African, European and Native American, as someone who throughout his life felt unsettled about his own racial identity. As Powell sees it, the artist “instinctively understood that the issue of racial identity was complex” and therefore hard to codify, “because in his own case it was, too.” In other ways, Powell added, Motley’s life was not exactly simple or conventional, and he had to emotionally and psychologically process its vicissitudes…

Read the entire article here.

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