Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India: Trials of an Interracial Family by Chandra Mallampalli (review) [Epstein]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, History, Law, Media Archive on 2014-09-30 20:42Z by Steven

Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India: Trials of an Interracial Family by Chandra Mallampalli (review) [Epstein]

Victorian Studies
Volume 56, Number 3, Spring 2014
pages 519-520
DOI: 10.1353/vic.2014.0064

James Epstein, Distinguished Professor of History
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Mallampalli, Chandra, Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India: Trials of an Interracial Family (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

The case of Abraham v. Abraham (1854–63) was extraordinary. It took nearly a decade to decide as it passed through the district civil court at Bellary in southern India, the appeals court at Madras, and finally the Privy Council’s Judicial Committee. The case repeatedly confounded legal categories based alternately on Hindu and English law and the fixed categories of Britain’s post-1857 colonial regime. In Race, Religion and Law in Colonial India, Chandra Mallampalli skillfully guides readers through the intricacies of the case, studying the social world inhabited by one family drawn into litigation and measuring the gap between their life-world and the protocols of the court. The period was one of imperial crisis and transition, as the British Crown assumed direct control over Indian territories following the 1857 Rebellion and authorities adopted a more cautious approach in governing Indian society. As the author writes, the more conservative turn of liberal governance “gave rise to an imperial multiculturalism, a policy of classifying colonial subjects according to race, religion, caste, or ethnicity,” while accentuating the difference between colonial subjects and colonizers (5).

Matthew Abraham was born into a Tamil-speaking family of “untouchables” (paraiyar community) who had converted to Catholicism. He subsequently converted to Protestantism and married Charlotte Fox, a Eurasian of Anglo-Portuguese descent. Matthew was part of the mobile group of camp followers who gravitated to the garrison town of Bellary. Access to the colonial culture centered on Bellary’s cantonment. The town’s thriving bazaar economy gave scope for Matthew’s enterprising talents and ambition; the locality’s social fluidity proved important to his self-fashioning. At the time of his marriage in 1820, he was working in the arsenal and selling military surplus items. Fairly soon he owned a distillery and most crucially was granted the East India Company contract to produce and supply liquor to the troops and local retailers—an irony, given his conversion to Evangelical Protestantism. The family prospered. Matthew assumed English customs and associated predominately with Europeans. He belonged to the class of doras, persons of local prominence, and was identified as an east Indian, a term usually reserved for those of mixed European and native blood. By a twist of fate, an oversight perhaps, the underlying complexities of this personal success story emerged in court records and now again in this fascinating book. Matthew died having left no will. His wife and his brother, Francis, who was involved in the family’s expanding business networks, fell out; they were unable to agree on a settlement or a legal heir, a necessary condition for their business dealings. From Matthew’s death in 1842 until Charlotte filed suit in 1854, the Abrahams “were a family in search of a law” (99). Once the case came to court, it produced a huge archive, with evidence taken from 271 witnesses and a series of conflicting verdicts.

In simplest terms, the case turned on whether Hindu or English law pertained. The Anglo-Indian system of civil or personal law mandated that Indians were governed according to their own laws whether Hindu or Muslim. As Mallampalli notes, a policy initially meant to promote religious tolerance also helped to create the fiction of coherent religious communities. The law seemed incapable of accommodating the intermingling of conditions and fluid identities that characterized the lives of the Abrahams. The legal agency of Charlotte and Francis depended on their ability to exploit the legal options open to them (in a sense, this is true of all legal proceedings). Hindu law worked to the advantage of male heirs. Charlotte and her legal councilors insisted that the family had been completely assimilated into the religion, customs, and lifestyle of Europeans and was therefore subject to English law with its emphasis on individual enterprise and ownership. Matthew’s brother was merely a business agent and subordinate family member. In contrast, Francis argued for continuity with Hindu tradition and his and Matthew’s undivided brotherhood, which would leave him as sole family heir. In this version, despite their Christian religion and European attitudes, the two brothers had been born into a class of persons who continued to observe the practice of Hindu…

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Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

Posted in Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-30 14:23Z by Steven

Exploring Identity: The Asian American Experience at Harvard

The Harvard Crimson: The University Daily since 1873
Harvard University

Maia R. Silber, Crimson Staff Writer

While last year’s “I, Too, Am Harvard” focused on identity and belongingness on a multiracial campus, Harvard’s AAPI students will also examine these concepts within the context of their own community.

It is a Saturday night, and it is raining—two factors counting against attendance at the talk co-hosted by Harvard’s Asian American Brotherhood and Black Men’s Forum. But a surprising number of people have filtered through the double doors of Boylston Hall, filling the plush red chairs only vaguely oriented around an old-fashioned projector. Stragglers lean against the shade-less windows, their elbows forming perpendicular angles with the droplets pounding on the other side.

Really, it’s no surprise that neither weather nor the opportunity cost of missed social engagements has deterred the audience; the talk centers on the buzz-worthy issue of affirmative action. Both campus groups have invited an alumnus who’s an expert on the issue for two short presentations, to be followed by a Q&A.

Gregory D. Kristof ’15, the education and politics director of AAB, a campus organization whose mission statement cites dedication to brotherhood, service, and activism, introduces AAB’s alumnus. Kristof focuses on the third part of AAB’s mission—the group’s discussions of discrimination and race-relations.

“We can only make so much progress if we only discuss these issues among AAB—among Asian Americans,” he says.

As discussions about race and inclusiveness have moved to the forefront of campus life with the “I, Too, Am Harvard” campaign, many Asian American student organizations have launched their own dialogues about issues pertinent to their community. But the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at Harvard—representing around 24 percent of the school’s population—encompasses individuals of dozens of different national, ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic, and religious identities. It includes students born here and students born in Asia, biracial students and multiracial students. How can a unified political force emerge from such a diverse and multifaceted population? Is this even a goal to aspire to?…

…Many students remain unsure as to how to define their own identities. “Sometimes I think of myself as Asian, but sometimes I don’t,” said Jacob. “When I see an Asian collaboration happening, do I automatically think that we should be included? Not necessarily.”

“Asian American” identities are further complicated by biracial and multiracial heritages. Harvard’s Half Asian People’s Association holds an annual discussion called “So What Are You Anyway?”

“When we get together, people always ask, ‘Do you feel more Asian or more white?’” says outgoing HAPA president Allison W. Giebisch ’16, who is of half-Austrian and half-Chinese descent. “When I go to China, people don’t think I’m Chinese. In the U.S., people don’t think I’m American.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Hapa-palooza 2014 celebrates three giants of mixed-heritage

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Media Archive on 2014-09-29 19:28Z by Steven

Hapa-palooza 2014 celebrates three giants of mixed-heritage

Vancouver Observer
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Jordan Yerman

An artist, a scientist, and a poet: Hapa-palooza honours Kip Fulbeck, Ann Makosinski, and Fred Wah.

What am I? I’m what’s on your spoon when you pull it out of the melting pot!!” So writes a subject in California-based artist Kip Fulbeck’s photo series “part asian, 100% Hapa“.

“The Hapa Project” just opened at the Nikkei National Museum, which also hosted Hapa-palooza’s inaugural Hip Hapa Hooray awards. The evening honoured three key figures in North America’s mixed-heritage community, who come from different generations and exceed in different disciplines.

Hapa-palooza co-founders Zarah Martz, Anna Ling Kaye, and Jeff Chiba Stearns presented awards to Fulbeck, inventor Ann Makosinski and poet Fred Wah

Read the entire article here.

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Defining racism in S. Korea

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-09-29 00:49Z by Steven

Defining racism in S. Korea


The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

“We apologise, but due to Ebola virus we are not accepting Africans at the moment.”

This is what a bar in Itaewon, a popular area for expats and tourists in Seoul, publicly posted in front of its property last month.

The statement triggered thousands of angry comments online, both from expats and locals ― especially after the public learned of reports that the bar admitted a white person from South Africa, while banning almost all dark-skinned individuals, regardless of their nationalities.

The incident is likely to get attention from Mutuma Ruteere, the UN special rapporteur on racism. Ruteere is scheduled to visit Seoul later this month to monitor the situation of racial discrimination and xenophobia in Korea and will file a report to the UN Human Rights Council next year.

The incident is one of the growing number of racism cases in the country ― Asia’s fourth-biggest economy, a key manufacturing powerhouse in the region, as well as the producer of hallyu.

While the nation’s immigrant population continues to rise, Korean racism ― both structural and internalized ― is becoming a growing concern to the international community.

Complex nature of racism in Korea

Korean racism, however, must be understood differently from its Western cousin, experts say.

It is a complex product of the country’s colonial history, postwar American influence and military presence, rapid economic development as well as patriotism that takes a special pride in its “ethnic homogeneity,” according to professor Kim Hyun-mee from Yonsei University…

Korean racism also contains internalized white supremacy, Kim added. “After the Korean War, Korea became a country with US military presence. At the same time, it was exposed to American popular culture, including Hollywood films, and was influenced by their representation of visible minorities,” Kim said.

“We need to note that interracial marriage was legally banned in (parts of) the US until 1967. The very first children who were sent overseas for foreign adoption in 1954 from Korea were mixed-race children born to African-American soldiers and Korean women.”

Internalized white supremacy can be seen even in today’s TV shows in Korea, according to a local NGO Women Migrants Human Rights Center of Korea.

When a Korean person is married to a (white) citizen of Western country, his or her family is referred as a “global family” with a positive connotation by hosts on TV programs, while families consisting of a Korean man married to a woman from a Southeast Asian country is called a “multicultural family,” a term that is rather stigmatizing and discriminatory among Koreans, the NGO wrote in a report to be submitted to UN Rapporteur Ruteere.

Racially insensitive programming on Korea’s national broadcasting networks have also emerged as a problem. In February, national broadcaster KBS aired three Korean comedians, dressed as “Africans” by wearing a curly wig and painting their faces black, in a segment in its comedy show “Gag Concert.” The programme received a criticism from expats here, saying that it was racist and extremely inappropriate…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Alien Citizen’ delivers a raw, moving sociological odyssey

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-29 00:34Z by Steven

‘Alien Citizen’ delivers a raw, moving sociological odyssey

The Williams Record: The Independent Student Newspaper at WIlliams College since 1887
Williamstown, Massachusetts

William Walker, Staff Writer

If there’s anything that students at the College love to think about, it’s identity. Indeed, the big questions about who we are, what we want to do and what we can (or in some cases should) become are some of the most fundamental, dynamic issues we grapple with, shaping the ways we think and interact. Which is why, at least for this Williams student, Elizabeth Liang’s one-woman show “Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey,” performed last Thursday at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, strikes such a profound and memorable chord.

After all, the show deals with just that problem. Telling the largely auto-biographical story of Liang, “Alien Citizen” describes a girlhood spent travelling between Central America, North Africa, the Middle East and New England, a journey ever-complicated by Liang’s own biracial status. And, like any journey, there are certainly plenty of obstacles to overcome – obstacles, in this case, which include the threats of racism, classism, sexism and, obviously, alienation. Indeed, perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the journey Liang goes on is its profound sense of loneliness – as a self-described “Third Culture Kid,” Liang feels like a foreigner even in the places where she’s stayed the longest…

Read the entire review here.

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Advanced Topics in Asian American Studies; The Multiracial Experience in the US (AAST498Y)

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Course Offerings, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-28 20:17Z by Steven

Advanced Topics in Asian American Studies; The Multiracial Experience in the US (AAST498Y)

University of Maryland
Fall 2014

Lawrence Davis

Course will focus on multiracial (“mixed race”) identity and how the experiences of multiracial people contribute to our broader understanding of racial identity and formation. Course draws on literature and research produced by and about multiracial people. In addition, students will access the topic through comment boards, live chat sessions, podcasts, and multimedia. Readings and other course materials have been selected to challenge and grow students’ understandings of race and mixed race. Also offered as AMST418W.

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Black Fathers, Present and Accountable

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-24 16:38Z by Steven

Black Fathers, Present and Accountable

Lens Blog: Photography, Video and Visual Journalism
The New York Times

Maurice Berger, Research Professor and Chief Curator
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

An anxious little girl hugs her father as a shark swims overhead in an aquarium. A man feeds his baby as he keeps a mindful eye on his three other rambunctious children. A single father reveals the tattoo on his forearm that depicts him as his son’s guardian angel. A young man poses proudly with the teacher he sees as a father figure.

While these photographs depict everyday situations, they are in one sense unusual: Their subjects are black and counter mainstream media that typically depict African-American fatherhood as a wasteland of dysfunction and irresponsibility. These images appear in a groundbreaking new book, “Father Figure: Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood” (Ceiba), by Zun Lee, a photographer and physician based in Toronto. A reception and book signing to mark its release will take place Friday night at the Bronx Documentary Center.

In 2011, Mr. Lee began photographing black men and their children from New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Toronto, Newark and other cities. He relied on friends and social media to find his subjects. Intent on creating a nuanced and affirmative view of these families, Mr. Lee spent weeks at a time getting to know them.

“Out of the hundreds of fathers I came across, the ones I ended up photographing were right for this project for very simple reasons,” Mr. Lee, 45, wrote in his book. “Not only did we develop a trust that allowed me into the inner sanctum of their private lives, but something about these fathers’ interaction with their kids resonated in ways that redeemed my own story.”

Mr. Lee’s personal history informs the project in complex and surprising ways. When he was in his 30s, his Korean mother confessed to him that his biological father was a black man with whom she had a brief affair. This knowledge, combined with the physical and verbal abuse he endured from the Korean father who raised him, stoked anger and confusion. Mr. Lee wondered why his biological father abandoned his mother, why he had made no effort to reconnect with his son, and whether his childhood would have been better had he been raised by both of his biological parents…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Hapa-palooza’ Celebrates Canada’s Mixed-Heritage Residents

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Media Archive on 2014-09-23 15:06Z by Steven

‘Hapa-palooza’ Celebrates Canada’s Mixed-Heritage Residents

NBC News

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Vancouver is gearing up for the Hapa-palooza Festival, the world’s largest celebration of mixed heritage and hybrid identity, to be held at locations throughout the city this month. The word “hapa” usually means a person who is part Asian or Pacific Islander, but festival organizers are taking a much more expansive view to include “mixed heritage and hybrid cultural identity.”

“Growing up there was little to no awareness about the experiences of being mixed,” says festival co-founder Zarah Martz. “Canada prides itself on being a multicultural country, and Hapa-palooza explores the blending of various cultures and backgrounds.”

Read the entire article here.

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Elizabeth Liang finds home: Performance at Williams College ’62 Center

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-22 17:36Z by Steven

Elizabeth Liang finds home: Performance at Williams College ’62 Center

The Berkshire Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Madeline Vuong, Special to Berkshires Week & Shires of Vermont

WILLIAMSTOWN — “Where are you from?”

It’s an easy question on the surface, but a more complicated matter if you’re Elizabeth Liang, a child of mixed-race parentage, who grew up in six different countries — Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Morocco, Egypt and the United States.

“‘Where are you from?’ was a question I got with almost boring regularity,” Liang said.

But as soon as she tried to answer, many people’s eyes glazed over, she said, and they assumed she and they had nothing in common. She learned not to talk about her life experiences.

“I listened instead,” she said.

She didn’t want to sound as though she were bragging, or as though she thought she was more worldly than her peers, she said, because that would isolate her more.

But after a childhood of staying quiet and trying to blend in, Liang decided she needed to talk openly about the experience of growing up internationally, especially as a mixed-race woman. Drawing on her training as a professional actor, she created a solo show, “Alien Citizen,” which she will perform tonight at the ‘62 Center at Williams College.

“[My show is] very personal, from a kid and teen’s perspective of living in these countries,” Liang said: “What it’s like to bike to school in a Cairo suburb, what Christmas in Guatemala is like, what it feels like to get stuck in a sandstorm on the sidewalks of Casablanca. And because I’m a kid and teenager through most of the show, there’s all the first love and crushes, and caring-about-being-cool stuff, too…

Read the entire article here.

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Number of multiracial students on rapid rise

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Media Archive on 2014-09-22 17:16Z by Steven

Number of multiracial students on rapid rise

The Korean Times

Kim Se-jeong

The number of elementary, middle and high school students from multiracial families soared to a record high of 67,806 as of April, the Ministry of Education said Sunday.

That accounted for 1.07 percent of the 6.33 million total and is the first time the group has surpassed the 1 percent mark, according to the ministry.

It was also a sharp increase from last year’s 55,780 ― the total is projected to reach 100,000 in three years.

Most of the children had Korean fathers and foreign born mothers and the majority of the latter came from China followed by Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Mongolia. In the case of Vietnam, the number of children almost doubled last year’s total of 6,310…

Read the entire article here.

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