Unreasonable Histories: Nativism, Multiracial Lives, and the Genealogical Imagination in British Africa

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-06-22 20:25Z by Steven

Unreasonable Histories: Nativism, Multiracial Lives, and the Genealogical Imagination in British Africa

Duke University Press
2014
368 pages
51 illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5713-1
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-5725-4

Christopher J. Lee, Research Associate
WITS Institute for Social and Economic Research
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

In Unreasonable Histories, Christopher J. Lee unsettles the parameters and content of African studies as currently understood. At the book’s core are the experiences of multiracial Africans in British Central Africa—contemporary Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia—from the 1910s to the 1960s. Drawing on a spectrum of evidence—including organizational documents, court records, personal letters, commission reports, popular periodicals, photographs, and oral testimony—Lee traces the emergence of Anglo-African, Euro-African, and Eurafrican subjectivities which constituted a grassroots Afro-Britishness that defied colonial categories of native and non-native. Discriminated against and often impoverished, these subaltern communities crafted a genealogical imagination that reconfigured kinship and racial descent to make political claims and generate affective meaning. But these critical histories equally confront a postcolonial reason that has occluded these experiences, highlighting uneven imperial legacies that still remain. Based on research in five countries, Unreasonable Histories ultimately revisits foundational questions in the field, to argue for the continent’s diverse heritage and to redefine the meanings of being African in the past and present—and for the future.

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Words of Obama’s Father Still Waiting to Be Read by His Son

Posted in Africa, Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-19 00:16Z by Steven

Words of Obama’s Father Still Waiting to Be Read by His Son

The New York Times
2016-06-18

Rachel L. Swarns


Family portraits, including one of President Barack Obama’s father, center, hang in his family’s house in Kogelo, western Kenya, in 2008. Credit Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Letters written long ago by Barack Obama Sr. shed new light on a young Kenyan whose ambitions helped change the course of U.S. history. But for the president, they may also revive old pain.

The archivist stumbled across the file in a stack of boxes on the second floor of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. The yellowing letters inside dated back more than half a century, chronicling the dreams and struggles of a young man in Kenya.

He was ambitious and impetuous, a 22-year-old clerk who could type 75 words a minute and translate English into Swahili. But he had no money for college. So he pounded away on a typewriter in Nairobi, pleading for financial aid from universities and foundations across the Atlantic.

His letters would help change the course of American history.

“It has been my long cherished ambition to further my studies in America,” he wrote in 1958. His name was Barack Hussein Obama, and his dispatches helped unleash a stream of scholarship money that carried him from Kenya to the United States. There, he fathered the child who would become the nation’s first black president, only to vanish from his son’s life a few years after his birth…

Read the entire article here.

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Mugabe raps Chinese men over mixed race babies

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-06-11 17:56Z by Steven

Mugabe raps Chinese men over mixed race babies

Bulawayo24
2016-06-11

Thobekile Zhou

Chinese men who are working on various projects in Zimbabwe have come under attack for not bringing along their wives.

President Robert Mugabe claimed that this could lead them to prey on local girls…

…He said the Chinese men end up leaving a mixed race communities after bedding local women. He said such a practice should stop…

Read the entire article here.

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Ghana To Ban Skin Bleaching Products in August

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-05-29 19:51Z by Steven

Ghana To Ban Skin Bleaching Products in August

The Root
2016-05-29

Angela Bronner Helm, Adjunct Profesor of Journalism
City College of New York

The government of Ghana will ban all products containing hydroquinone this summer.

Colorism, that which privileges lighter skin over darker, is an issue that not only affects African Americans, but pretty much all people of color around the world.

From India to Compton, Brazil to Belize, one of the ways in which colorism rears its ugly head is in skin bleaching. We have all seen photos where celebrities such as Dominican baseball player Sammy Sosa or Nigerian-Cameroonian pop singer Dencia bleached their beautiful brown skin to odd shades not found in nature, ostensibly for beauty and prestige. As far back as the 1990s, the Jamaican dancehall song “Dem a Bleach” talked about the phenomenon of using chemicals to alter the color of brown skin.

But the West African nation of Ghana is putting the kibosh on that…

Read the entire article here.

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Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2016-05-09 01:04Z by Steven

Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

University of North Carolina Press
May 2016
352 pages
6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4696-2341-2

David Wheat, Assistant Professor of History
Michigan State University

This work resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, two major African provenance zones, first Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and their semirural hinterlands.

David Wheat is the first scholar to establish this early phase of the “Africanization” of the Spanish Caribbean two centuries before the rise of large-scale sugar plantations. With African migrants and their descendants comprising demographic majorities in core areas of Spanish settlement, Luso-Africans, Afro-Iberians, Latinized Africans, and free people of color acted more as colonists or settlers than as plantation slaves. These ethnically mixed and economically diversified societies constituted a region of overlapping Iberian and African worlds, while they made possible Spain’s colonization of the Caribbean.

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“Marrying Out” for Love: Women’s Narratives of Polygyny and Alternative Marriage Choices in Contemporary Senegal

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Women on 2016-04-25 14:50Z by Steven

“Marrying Out” for Love: Women’s Narratives of Polygyny and Alternative Marriage Choices in Contemporary Senegal

African Studies Review
Volume 59, Number 1, April 2016
pages 155-174

Hélène Neveu Kringelbach, Lecturer in African Studies
University College London

This article examines the ways in which childhood and youth experiences of living in polygynous households shape the aspirations of middle-class Muslim Senegalese women to companionate marriage. Increasingly, such aspirations are fulfilled through marriage with European men. In contrast to an enduring popular discourse according to which women live happily with polygyny throughout the Senegambian region, this article shows how some middle-class women’s choice to “marry out” is explicitly linked to family narratives and personal experiences of suffering. In a context in which many of these women face strong familial opposition to marriage with non-Muslim European men, this article suggests that the women’s narratives provide moral legitimacy to their “alternative” choices.

Cet article examine comment et de quelles manières les expériences des enfants et des jeunes qui vivent dans des ménages polygames, façonnent les aspirations des femmes sénégalaises musulmanes de la classe moyenne au mariage de compagnonnage. De plus en plus, de telles aspirations sont satisfaites par le mariage avec des hommes européens. Contrairement à un discours populaire qui perdure selon lequel les femmes vivent heureuses dans la polygynie dans toute la région de Sénégambie, cet article montre comment le choix de certaines femmes de la classe moyenne à «se marier en dehors» est explicitement lié à des récits de famille et des expériences de souffrances personnelles. Cet article suggère que les récits des femmes assurent la légitimité morale à leurs choix “alternatifs” dans un contexte où beaucoup d’entre elles font face à une forte opposition familiale au mariage avec des hommes européens non-musulmans.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Color Lines: Sex, Race, and Body Politics in Pre/Colonial Ghana

Posted in Africa, History, Live Events, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2016-04-25 14:30Z by Steven

Color Lines: Sex, Race, and Body Politics in Pre/Colonial Ghana

Indiana University, Bloomington
Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society
Schuessler Institute for Social Research
1022 E. 3rd Street
Maple Room, IMU
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Thursday, 2016-04-28, 16:00-17:30 EDT (Local Time)

Carina Ray, Associate Professor of African and Afro- American Studies
Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

CRRES Speaker Series, Spring 2016

Drawing on her recently published book about interracial sexual relationships in colonial Ghana and her new research on how indigenous historical actors in this region of West Africa have thought about and constructed blackness as a symbolic, somatic, and political signifier, Ray’s talk explores how race catalyzed social and political change even in areas of Africa without large settler colonial populations. Centering Ghana in her talk Ray argues that race, rather than ethnicity alone, has powerfully shaped the historical landscape of a continent that has for centuries been at the heart of the West’s racializing discourses.

Carina Ray is an associate professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University. A scholar of race and sexuality; comparative colonialisms and nationalisms; migration and maritime history; and the relationship between race, ethnicity, and political power, Carina’s research is primarily focused on Ghana and its diasporas. She is the author of Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana (Ohio University Press, 2015) and co-editor of Navigating African Maritime History (with Jeremy Rich) and Darfur and the Crisis of Governance in Sudan: A Critical Reader (with Salah Hassan). Her articles have appeared in The American Historical Review, Gender and History, and Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques. Carina is currently working on her new book project, Somatic Blackness: A History of the Body and Race-Making in Ghana.

For more information, click here.

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Blackass: a race rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing on 2016-04-18 00:04Z by Steven

Blackass: a race rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

The Guardian
2016-04-13

Ainehi Edoro

Ainehi Edoro reflects on Blackass, a novel that subjects Kafka’s classic to African literary conventions – and, in the process, gives an iconic European story ‘an extreme but necessary makeover’

Last year, I received a review copy of A Igoni Barrett’s Blackass from his Nigerian publisher. I knew it was a rewrite of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I just didn’t know what to expect. To be quite frank, I was a bit worried. Kafka has not always lived a happy life in Africa. When Guinean novelist Camara Laye wrote a Kafka-inspired novel, he was dragged through a gauntlet of scandals. Kind commentators called his work derivative and unoriginal. Others were less kind. They accused him of borderline plagiarism. Some even went as far as suggesting that he couldn’t have written the novel without the help of a ghostwriter of some kind. But Blackass, it turns out, is different. Barrett essentially subjects Kafka’s classic to the pressures African literary conventions, and, in the process, gives an iconic European story an extreme, but much needed makeover.

Both stories share the premise of a human body undergoing a change so abrupt and so drastic that the old body is unrecognizable in the new one. But there is a key difference. The Metamorphosis tells the story of a man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one non-descript morning and finds he is a human-size bug. But in Blackass, Furo Wariboko wakes up and finds he has been transformed into a white man while his buttocks remain black, hence the title Blackass. This shift from animal to racial metamorphosis initiates a series of aesthetic interventions that reveal just how much Kafka’s beloved story was begging to be upgraded for the contemporary reader…

Read the entire review here.

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Book Review: Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana by Carina Ray

Posted in Africa, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2016-04-04 00:09Z by Steven

Book Review: Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana by Carina Ray

Africa at LSE
London School of Economics
2016-03-18

Yovanka Perdigao

Yovanka Perdigao praises Crossing the Color Line:Race, Sex and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana for dismantling preconceptions of interracial couples in colonial Ghana.

Carina E Ray’s first book Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana both surprises and delights its readers as it navigates through the lives and politics of interracial couples in Britain and Ghana. It explores how such interracial relationships from precolonial to post-independent Ghana had an enormous impact in the making of modern Britain and Ghana.

The book highlights the evolving attitudes of both British and Ghanaian societies, and how each sought to negotiate these relationships. Despite one being familiar with the topics at hand, one is left surprised as the author explores the micro politics of disciplinary cases against colonial officers who challenged the British Crown by keeping local women; to the making of transatlantic networks in the eve of Ghanaian independence…

Read the entire reveiw here.

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Blackass: A Novel

Posted in Africa, Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing on 2016-04-03 20:21Z by Steven

Blackass: A Novel

Graywolf Press
2016-03-01
272 pages
5.5 x 8.25
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-55597-733-7

A. Igoni Barrett

Furo Wariboko, a young Nigerian, awakes the morning before a job interview to find that he’s been transformed into a white man. In this condition he plunges into the bustle of Lagos to make his fortune. With his red hair, green eyes, and pale skin, it seems he’s been completely changed. Well, almost. There is the matter of his family, his accent, his name. Oh, and his black ass. Furo must quickly learn to navigate a world made unfamiliar, and deal with those who would use him for their own purposes. Taken in by a young woman called Syreeta and pursued by a writer named Igoni, Furo lands his first-ever job, adopts a new name, and soon finds himself evolving in unanticipated ways.

A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass is a fierce comic satire that touches on everything from race to social media while at the same time questioning the values society places on us, simply by virtue of the way we look. As he did in Love Is Power, or Something Like That, Barrett brilliantly depicts life in contemporary Nigeria, and details the double-dealing and code-switching that is implicit in everyday business. But it’s Furo’s search for an identity—one deeper than skin—that leads to the final unraveling of his own carefully constructed story.

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