Argentina Rediscovers Its African Roots

Posted in Anthropology, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery on 2014-09-15 01:47Z by Steven

Argentina Rediscovers Its African Roots

The New York Times
2014-09-12

Michael T. Luongo

The chapel in the small lakeside resort community of Chascomús is at best underwhelming. Its whitewashed brick exterior is partly obstructed by a tangle of vines and bushes, and its dim, one-room interior is no more majestic than its facade. Wooden pews and an uneven dirt floor are scarcely illuminated by sunlight from a single window. The gray, cracked, dusty walls are adorned with crosses, photos, icons — things people leave to mark their pilgrimage. A low front altar is layered with thick candle wax, flowers and a pantheon of black saints, Madonnas and African deities like the sea goddess Yemanja of the Yoruba religion.

Despite its unkempt state, this chapel, the Capilla de los Negros, attracts a little over 11,000 tourists each year who come to see a church named for the freed slaves who built it in 1861.

The chapel is “where we can locate ourselves and point out the truth that we are here,” said Soledad Luis, an Afro-Argentine from the tourism office who led me through the space. She knows it well. It sits on a plot her great-grandfather helped secure, and her family still gathers there weekly for a meal.

Capilla de los Negros feels off the beaten path, but it is part of a list of slave sites in Argentina created in 2009 by Unesco. Its inclusion signals the growing consciousness of African heritage in Argentina, seemingly the most Europeanized country in South America.

Argentina at one time had a robust African presence because of the slaves who were brought there, but its black population was decimated by myriad factors including heavy casualties on the front lines in the War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay in the 1860s; a yellow fever epidemic that rich, white Argentines largely escaped; and interracial offspring who, after successive generations, shed their African culture along with their features. And European immigration swelled the white population — 2.27 million Italians came between 1861 and 1914.

The demographic shift has been sharp. In 1800, on the eve of revolution with Spain, blacks made up more than a third of the country, 69,000 of a total population of 187,000, according to George Reid Andrews’s 2004 book “Afro-Latin America.” In 2010, 150,000 identified themselves as Afro-Argentine, or a mere 0.365 percent of a population of 41 million people, according to the census, the first in the country’s history that counted race.

But the culture the slaves brought with them remained. And in recent years, Argentina has gone from underselling its African roots to rediscovering them, as academics, archaeologists, immigrants and a nascent civil rights movement have challenged the idea that African and Argentine are mutually exclusive terms…

Read the entire article here.

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Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-09-09 20:14Z by Steven

Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, China
2014-09-08

Lijia Zhang, Writer, Journalist, Social Commentator

Lijia Zhang recounts her struggle to instill pride and love of all things Chinese in her daughters

May, my 17-year-old elder daughter, told me the results of her school exams by phone. When there was a pause, she asked: “Are you disappointed?” I shouldn’t have been. Three As and a B were good results.

But the problem was that she got the B in Chinese. And she is half Chinese.

I see it partly as my fault in failing to speak Chinese consistently at home, at least for the time May and her younger sister, Kirsty, spend at my house. The truth is that she’s really interested in the language and, indeed, the Chinese part of her cultural heritage.

A few years back, I took the girls to Bangladesh for a holiday. As soon as we were out of my friend’s guarded complex, we were surrounded by curious locals.

“Where are you from?” they asked the girls. May, the spokeswoman of the two, replied without hesitation: “We are from England.”

After we had settled down in a rickshaw, I said to May: “You were born in Beijing. Save for four years in London, you grew up in China. How does it qualify you as ‘English’?” May blinked her big round eyes. “Well, if I tell people I am Chinese, they wouldn’t believe me.”

True, May doesn’t look very Chinese, with her fair skin and brown hair, especially the way she carries herself. Kirsty, who has a darker complexion and more delicate facial features, looks a little more oriental.

Yet they both fundamentally identify themselves as British, even though they do sometimes describe themselves as “half Chinese and half British”…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Social Science on 2014-09-04 16:38Z by Steven

Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality

University of British Columbia Press
2014-10-15
288 pages
6 x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-7748-2772-0
Library E-Book: ISBN: 978-0-7748-2774-4

Minelle Mahtani, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Geography and the Program in Journalism
University of Toronto, Scarborough

Racially mixed people in the global north are often portrayed as the embodiment of an optimistic, post-racial future. In Mixed Race Amnesia, Minelle Mahtani makes the case that this romanticized view of multiraciality governs both public perceptions and personal accounts of the mixed-race experience. Drawing on a series of interviews, she explores how, in order to adopt the view that being mixed race is progressive, a strategic forgetting takes place–one that obliterates complex diasporic histories. She argues that a new anti-colonial approach to multiraciality is needed, one that emphasizes how colonialism shapes the experiences of mixed-race people today.

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Mothly Guest Author: Araújo, Emanoel

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2014-09-03 20:56Z by Steven

Mothly Guest Author: Araújo, Emanoel

GAM – Global Art and the Museum
Karlsruhe, Germany
March 2009

This month it is a great pleasure for us to present as our fifth guest author Emanoel Araújo, founder of the Museu AfroBrasil, who was interviewed by Hans Belting on the occasion of the first GAM Platform in São Paulo in 2008. In this interview Araújo not only discusses the role of contemporary art in today’s Brazil, but also provides us a deep insight into the creation of this unique institution throughout the world.

The Museu AfroBrasil in São Paulo. A New Museum Concept

The Museu AfroBrasil was created by municipal decree on November 20, 2003—Black Awareness Day—in a ceremony attended by state representatives and the Afro-Brazilian community of São Paulo. On this occasion, the Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alkmin, donated the Manoel da Nóbrega Pavilion, designed by the Architect Oscar Niemeyer, and located in the beautiful Ibirapuere Park, the city’s central park, to house the Museu AfroBrasil.

The museum opened on October 23, 2004 with Museu AfroBrasil: um Conceito em Perspectiva [Afro-Brazil Museum: a Concept in Perspective]. On November 20 of the same year, the exhibition Brasileiro, Brasileiros [Brazilian, Brazilians] was dedicated to the presence of the three races in Brazil. “Some people may not accept the idea of racial mixture that Brazil represents,” said Araújo, current director of the museum. The Museu AfroBrasil, as the visitor’s guide explains, “aims to tell an alternative Brazilian history. This means it has the complex task of deconstructing an image of the black population constructed from a historically inferior perspective, and of transforming it into a prestigious image founded on equality and belonging, so re-confirming a sense of respect for one of the founding populations of Brazil. [...] In the 20th century the artistic division created by [... ] academic art widened. On [the other hand] there were distinguished Black artists who, because they were outside the canon of [...] art, were considered merely talented craftsmen or, at most, ‘popular artists’– [...] By putting these artists side-by-side the Museum would like to highlight the historical and ultimately arbitrary nature of this separation, and emphasize the intrinsic value of the works by Black artists for which these distinctions lose all meaning.”

Interview with Hans Belting

Hans Belting (H.B.): What is the role of contemporary art in Brazil today?

Emanoel Araújo (E.A.): I think it was important to create the Bienal de São Paulo to pull Brazil out of her cultural isolation faced by the hegemony of other countries. It was also important for Brazilian art to invite the Swiss artist Max Bill, and his Unidade Tri–Partida [Tripartite Unity] to the biennial in 1951, as his presence consolidated the Concretism movement. Currently, globalization meets with a certain commitment of the galleries and art fairs throughout the world; however, contemporary art in Brazil is marked by a discourse that is not necessarily comprehensible abroad, where the regime of international curators pursues other interests. Usually, artists in Brazil looked beyond borders and identified with the ‘established’, or the ‘civilized’, without paying tribute to their roots and to the fact that they mixed with others to become Brazilian. This type of anthropophagia led to a certain mystique without which all artistic expression on this side of the Atlantic would look like second class art…

…H.B.: How would you describe the relationship between the museum that you have founded and the community museums of the United States?

E.A.: I do not care for the community museums of the United States, and I am not even sure whether they exist. However, I should add that we are worlds apart from their racial problems. Our ethnic composition is rooted in Portuguese colonialism, and we are Catholic. The Portuguese, a people born out of many races, where ethnic mixing comes with enforced rule, are very different from the Calvinist protestant formation of the United States. Our colors, and there are many, were perversely created to allow for a system of racial democracy, where the white established a pact in the definition of race according to color. Brazil was not only a slave- driven society, but also the last country in the Americas to free its slaves on whose labor wealth was based. This labor was used to grow sugarcane, tobacco, coffee and to mine for gold and precious stones, and today Brazil has still not come to terms with the question of this slave-driven society. In the nineteenth century, when slavery was flourishing, some blacks were more important than they are today. There were Negro poets, journalists, jurists, physicians, editors, writers and engineers. Negroes were forgotten after slavery was abolished in 1888, with the military coup of the republic carried out by the land-owning elites, the oligarchies of Brazil. The exodus to the periphery of major towns and cities, and the lack of any formal education for the people made, and continues to make a very big difference between Brazil and the United States…

Read the entire interview here.

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Chronicling Mississippi’s ‘Church Mothers,’ and Getting to Know a Grandmother

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Mississippi, Religion, United States, Women on 2014-08-31 18:18Z by Steven

Chronicling Mississippi’s ‘Church Mothers,’ and Getting to Know a Grandmother

The New York Times
2014-08-29

Samuel G. Freedman, Professor of Journalism
Columbia University, New York

SUMNER, Miss. — Toward noon on a torrid Monday in the Mississippi Delta, Alysia Burton Steele drove down Highway 49, looking for the crossroads near the Old Antioch Baptist Church. There, at the corner of a road called Friendship, she turned into the African-American section of Sumner, a dwindling hamlet of about 300 that suffices as a county seat.

A photographer by training and a professor by title, Ms. Steele was headed for the homes of two older neighbors, Lela Bearden, 88, and Herma Mims Floyd. She was bringing the women legacies to inspect, legacies in the form of portraits and testimonies she had taken of them over the last few years.

Ms. Bearden and Ms. Floyd were part of a larger assemblage of 50 African-American women whom Ms. Steele had chosen to chronicle in text and image for a book-in-progress she has titled “Jewels in the Delta.”

Whether by formal investiture or informal acclamation, nearly all the women in the book held the title of “church mother,” a term of respect and homage in black Christianity. As lifelong residents of the Delta — the landscape of the blues bards Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson and the terrain of the civil rights crusaders Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer — the women had lived through segregation and struggle and liberation.

“I knew there were hard times,” said Ms. Steele, 44. “But I did not understand it. Just to hear the things they went through. That blacks couldn’t try on shoes in stores. That you couldn’t go to school if there was cotton to pick. The stories made me cry. They put a face on history for me. I felt like I got my private history lesson.”

In her work, Ms. Steele has attested to the worth of lives that Jim Crow meant to render worthless. At times, she has had to convince the church mothers themselves that their stories were significant enough to be part of a book…

…For Ms. Steele, such biography served a covertly personal purpose. The past for which she was searching in the Delta was that of her own grandmother, Althenia Burton.

As the daughter of a black father and white mother, who divorced when she was 3, Ms. Steele was raised by her paternal grandparents. While young Alysia cherished her grandmother, her Gram, she also bitterly resisted her. When her grandmother insisted on bringing Alysia to church, the girl poked holes in her tights in the futile attempt at an excuse to miss it. Even as Ms. Burton cultivated her granddaughter’s ambition for college, she dismissed her passion for photography with the pronouncement “Pick a real major.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Mother’s Love: Stories of Struggle, Sacrifice, Love and Wisdom

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Mississippi, Passing, Religion, United States, Women on 2014-08-31 17:55Z by Steven

A Mother’s Love: Stories of Struggle, Sacrifice, Love and Wisdom

The Root
2014-05-11

Breanna Edwards

Journalist Alysia Steele’s explores the “jewels in the Mississippi Delta” who held it down for their families through decades of strife and racial struggle.

It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and many of us may feel the keen absence of the women who meant the most to us.

How many times have you wished you could turn back the hands of time and have one more conversation with one of the most influential women of your life? Maybe have notes of memorable anecdotes they shared?

This was one of Alysia Steele’s biggest regrets concerning her paternal grandmother, Althenia A. Burton, who died 20 years ago. Since then, the memory of her grandmother has stayed with Steele, never fading, and ultimately culminating in the conception of her current project, a book proposal, “Jewels in the Delta,” that has gained interest from publishers.

“I have a huge sense of regret that as a trained journalist I never had the foresight to get her story and I’ll never hear her voice again, and I can’t even tell you how much that hurts me,” Steele tells The Root.

Steele has interviewed about 47 women and is conducting the last of what will be a total of 50 interviews in the coming days. The project has taken her approximately 11 months to complete and countless hours of recording, transcribing, coaxing and traveling. It’s been hard work, to be sure, but to Steele the end goal has been more than worth it.

“How many of us stop and talk to our grandparents to get to their stories? To really ask them the questions that are hard?” she adds…

…In an excerpt from Steele’s book proposal, Virginia Hower, 93, shared how she “felt dirty” because of her ability to pass for white in a segregated society.

It was horror. You felt bad because you couldn’t be with your grandmother or your grandfather. You just accepted it. I couldn’t be with them because they were darker. Sometimes you felt bad because you could ride in a clean coach and just to think that your grandmother couldn’t kiss you as you stepped off the train. But they accepted it, so why not enjoy the clean train? And then when I got down on the streets, we all kiss and carry on. Those was happy moments. And then you got to thinkin’ how foolish this life is, how foolish. Then you got to thinkin’ about it and say take advantage of it and a lot of people down here in Clarksdale, they went to Chicago in ’41 and never revealed they were colored.

So many fascinating stories from unassuming women who had nothing but love for their respective husbands and children and who never really spoke about the troubles and trials they had endured…

Read the entire article here.

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Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Social Science on 2014-08-28 20:37Z by Steven

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico [Villarreal Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1989-1991
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.920094

Andrés Villarreal, Professor of Sociology
University of Maryland, College Park

Land of the cosmic race: race mixture, racism, and blackness in Mexico, by Christina A. Sue, New York, Oxford University Press, 2013, xi + 234 pp., £15.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-19-992550-6

A powerful official ideology promoted by the Mexican Government since the early twentieth century glorifies the mestizo, defined as the descendant of both indigenous and Spanish peoples, as a symbol of national identity. This same ideology holds racism to be inexistent in contemporary Mexico, and negates the contribution of individuals of African descent to Mexican history and to the racial make-up of the nation. Despite the importation of many thousands of slaves during the colonial period, blacks have been essentially erased from the national consciousness. Christina Sue’s outstanding ethnographic study uncovers how Mexican men and women work to reconcile this official national ideology which they vehemently espouse, with their own lived experiences in which individuals with a darker skin tone are routinely discriminated in everyday life, and in which African ancestry is clearly evident in some regions of the country.

Research on racial attitudes in Indo-Latin American countries such as Mexico has focused mostly on the mestizo–indigenous dichotomy. However, Sue convincingly argues that distinctions along a colour continuum within the mestizo population have an important effect on individuals’ life chances. Framing discussions in terms of colour rather than race allows many Mexicans to make comparisons without violating the national ideology according to which racial classifications are no longer relevant.

In contrast to the official ideology of non-racism, Sue finds evidence of tremendous racial prejudice among her subjects in the coastal city of Veracruz. Veracruzanos with a lighter skin tone enjoy preferential treatment socially and in work settings. Employers often code their preference for workers with lighter skin tones by soliciting candidates with ‘good presentation’, a term whose meaning is fully known by job applicants. Racial prejudice is also evident within family units. Family members use a variety of gatekeeping techniques to prevent the entry of dark-skinned individuals into their families through marriage. A woman interviewed by Sue reports that her mother-in-law refuses to speak to her because she is darker than her husband (94). Veracruzanos also agonize over children inheriting the phenotype of a darker parent. Reflecting the disappointment that his daughter inherited his darker skin tone, one father notes: ‘I wouldn’t have cared if she was ugly like me, but I wanted her to have green eyes … like her mother or be light like her mother. But she came out ugly like me’ (74). As in other parts of Latin America, Sue finds that Veracruzanos systematically equate whiteness with beauty and higher social standing. Darker family members are routinely insulted and devalued, while lighter members receive more resources and attention…

Read the entire review here.

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A Conversation with Dr. Yaba Blay: Saturday 30th August

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Forthcoming Media, Live Events on 2014-08-28 19:40Z by Steven

A Conversation with Dr. Yaba Blay: Saturday 30th August

Africa Women’s Development Fund
Plot Number 78, AWDF House
Ambassadorial Enclave
East Legon, Accra, Ghana

2014-08-28

You’re invited to a conversation with Dr. Yaba Blay on Saturday 30th August from 5pm-7pm at the AWDF resource centre in East Legon, Accra.

Dr. Blay is a professor, producer, and publisher. As a researcher and ethnographer, she uses personal and social narratives to disrupt fundamental assumptions about cultures and identities. As a cultural worker and producer, she uses images to inform consciousness, incite dialogue, and inspire others into action and transformation.

This conversation with Dr. Blay will focus on her work including a discussion on (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race which explores potential disadvantages related with having light skin, particularly among people of African descent – racial ambiguity and contested racial authenticity. As well as a focus on ‘Pretty.Period’,  a transmedia project created as a visual missive in reaction to the oh-so-popular, yet oh-so-offensive “compliment” – “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” A few copies of (1 )ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race will be available for sale.

For more information, click here.

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The biopolitics of mixing: Thai multiracialities and haunted ascendancies [England Review]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2014-08-28 19:00Z by Steven

The biopolitics of mixing: Thai multiracialities and haunted ascendancies [England Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1923-1926
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.925129

Sara England, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, California

The biopolitics of mixing: Thai multiracialities and haunted ascendancies, by Jinthana Haritaworn, Surrey, UK, Ashgate, 2012, vii + 187 pp., £49.50 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-7546-7680-5

The Biopolitics of Mixing falls within a large and growing literature that questions the claim that many nations in the world are now post-racial. This claim is often backed up by the observation that there are a growing number of multiracial subjects who are accepted and celebrated as beautiful, desirable and maybe even genetically superior members of society. It is further bolstered by the claim that race itself has been discredited as a category that has any biological meaning, that through mixing racial categories are blending and creatively transgressed and that multiracial subjects are the products of the ultimate sign of racial tolerance: love, marriage and family-making. Through interviews with peoples of Thai multiracial heritage and analysis of public narratives of multiraciality in England and Germany, Haritaworn argues that this new discourse that celebrates multiracial subjects may appear to be more progressive, having done away with prior narratives of the degenerate hybrid and the marginal man; however, there are also ways that this celebratory discourse ignores what she calls the ghosts of eugenics, the Thai prostitute and other less positive images of multiraciality. She also argues that the celebration of multiraciality marginalizes other subjects who do not fit the narrative of the happy multiracial subject and the love story that produced them, and that it celebrates certain kinds of mixing and multiculturalism over others. In the end, despite its seemingly progressive nature, new discourses of multiraciality still draw on conceptions of biopolitics and biological citizenship that continue to silence certain subjects and reinforce heteronormative, liberal, white subjectivity.

In chapter 2, Haritiworn enters into the debate about the ‘what are you’ question. She notes that, like researchers before her, she designed her interviews with this question in mind. However, she came to the conclusion that the question itself is problematic, both as encountered in the daily lives of multiracial people and as posed by researchers because in both cases it assumes in advance that the multiracial body is ‘naturally’ or ‘obviously’ ambiguous and in need of ‘dissection’ and explanation. Through her interviews she shows that often the ambiguity is created in the encounter itself as the subject is misrecognized as some other ‘monoracial’ category and only through the interrogation is the multiraciality revealed and its ‘signs’ searched for in the body of the interrogated. She further argues that though her interviewees did not see these questions as particularly offensive, they did come to assume an almost ritualistic character in which the interviewee knew in advance how the interrogation was going to proceed and what assumptions underlie it. Some therefore compliantly responded to what the interrogator wanted to hear, others delighted in shocking them, while others played along with their racial assumptions and misrecognitions. While none of these strategies serve to dismantle the racial assumptions behind the interrogation, they could sometimes turn the power of ‘surveillance’ back onto the interrogator whose racial assumptions were revealed.

Unlike their varied strategies of resistance to the ‘what are you’ question, Haritaworn’s interviewees were more consistent in their celebration of the ‘beautiful Eurasian’, a discourse that she argues appears to turn the tables on the bioracial logic of eugenics in which mixes were assumed to produce degenerations of the ‘pure’ racial stocks, but that upon inspection actually shares some of its logic. For example, interviewees talked of themselves as superior breeds that are more beautiful and healthy than monoracial individuals, a belief grounded in the long-standing racial logic that equates phenotype with other ‘non-racial’ characteristics. But even within this celebration of mixing as producing bodies with ‘the best of both worlds’, some mixes were seen as more beautiful or seamless, than others, particularly Asian plus white which produces a browned white body or a diluted Thai body, in contrast to those who are a ‘dually minoritized mix’ whose bodies were seen as a more problematic clashing of disparate racialized body parts (Arab nose with Thai eyes, etc.). Haritaworn further shows that this ‘ghost of eugenics’ in the celebration of the biological superiority of the multiracial body is not simply a discourse among multiracial peoples themselves but is also present in the public sphere and given the legitimization of scientific ‘truth’ through research that seeks to locate race at the genetic level and has made the argument that multiracial peoples exhibit more ‘heterozygosity’ and are therefore physically and mentally superior to those who do not mix. She demonstrates this in chapter 4 through an analysis of the British documentary Is it Better to be Mixed Race? which aired on Channel 4 in 2009. The documentary follows Araathi Prasad, a British South Asian scientist, as she interviews largely white male scientists and happy heterosexual multiracial families with their beautiful children. Haritaworn argues that ‘While superficially reversing the old racial purity doctrine on national reproduction, the new bioracial knowledge repeats its heteronormativity and preserves and diversifies its ableism’ (89). In contrast to the racial logic of eugenics, ‘Interraciality is foregrounded as the transgressive, cutting-edge practice of the future’; however, like eugenics ‘heterosexuality remains its unspoken, taken for granted backdrop’ (90). Thus, rather than dismantling the idea of race as a biological fiction, this new line of research reifies it into the body at the genetic level and reproduces ideas of superior and inferior ‘biological citizens.’…

Read the entire review here.

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American Pop Culture Hides, Reveals Multiracial Asian-Americans

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Audio, Communications/Media Studies, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-26 01:45Z by Steven

American Pop Culture Hides, Reveals Multiracial Asian-Americans

Voice of America
2014-08-03

Jim Stevenson

The discussion of race in the United States has always been complex and often difficult. Yet in an overwhelmingly large percentage of families, it is not difficult to find some evidence of a multiracial influence.

LeiLani Nishime is assistant professor of communications at the University of Washington and author of Undercover Asian. She examines how multiracial Asian Americans are often overlooked even when presented in highly visible popular media such as movies, television shows, magazine articles and artwork. Nishime contrasts the phenomenon with examples when audiences can view multiracial Asians as multiracial. She told VOA’s Jim Stevenson her fascinating study began with simple discussions in the classroom.

NISHIME: I had students in class who wanted to hear about mixed race and so I taught one class on it; they liked it so much I turned it into a two-week unit, and they liked that so much I turned it into a class, and after that I thought, “well, maybe there is enough there to write a book about.” I mostly draw from pop culture and from visual culture specifically, so advertising, television, film, that sort of thing. That’s partly just because of my own background and training, I was trained in literary studies and I did most of my dissertation work on film. I’m also interested in popular cultural icons because I feel like they have something to say about our culture more generally.

STEVENSON: Tiger Woods is definitely one of the most recognized athletes around the world, and of course, with some of the things that happened in Tiger’s career in the past few years made him even more well-known, I guess. Tiger is an interesting case: his father is African American, his mother is Thai.

NISHIME: There are times where he identifies as African-American, some as Asian-American – he had made up this term, “Cablinasian,” for a while, that he calls himself. I think though, for most of his career, he actually tries not to identify racially at all. His publicity can paint him as something new, something outside of our usual racial categories.

Read the interview here. Download the interview here.

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