You may not know it — but if you speak Spanish, you speak some Arabic too

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Europe, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-25 23:22Z by Steven

You may not know it — but if you speak Spanish, you speak some Arabic too

PRI’s The World
Public Radio International

Joy Diaz, Reporter

Rihab Massif, originally from Lebanon, was my daughter’s preschool teacher in Austin. As a little girl, Camila, my daughter, spoke mostly in Spanish. And Massif remembers a day when Camila was frustrated because she couldn’t remember a word in English.

“She was telling me about her camis,” Massif says.

Camisa is the word in Spanish for “shirt,” and Massif understood it perfectly because camis means the same thing in Arabic.

“And I was like ‘Oh! There are some words related to Arabic,’” she says.

To see just how many, Massif and I did an exercise. I’d say a word in Spanish, and she’d say it back in Arabic.


“We say ceit,” Massif says.


“We say guitar.”

Now that I am aware, it seems like I hear Arabic words everywhere…

…Linguist Victor Solis Parejo from the University of Barcelona in Spain says part of the language Spanish speakers use comes from a legacy of the Moorish influence. “Moors” was the name used to refer to the Arabic-speaking group from North Africa that invaded what would become Spain back in the eighth century. Their influence lasted about 700 years and is still visible today.

“Especially if you travel [in the] south of Spain­. For example in Merida, in the city where I was born, we have the Alcazaba Arabe, an Arabic fortification,” Parejo says. “So, you can see that in the cities nowadays, but you can also see that Islamic presence, that Arabic presence in the language.”…

Read the story here. Listen to the story here. Download the story here.

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She Is Cuba: A Genealogy of the Mulata Body

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Women on 2015-11-23 21:35Z by Steven

She Is Cuba: A Genealogy of the Mulata Body

Oxford University Press
240 Pages
53 images
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780199968169
Paperback ISBN: 9780199968176

Melissa Blanco Borelli, Senior Lecturer in Dance
Royal Holloway University of London

  • Weaves together historical method, auto-ethnographic, and performative writing
  • Sits at the precipice of scholarly and public interest in Cuban cultural history

She is Cuba: A Genealogy of the Mulata Body traces the history of the Cuban mulata and her association with hips, sensuality and popular dance. It examines how the mulata choreographs her racialised identity through her hips and enacts an embodied theory called hip(g)nosis. By focusing on her living and dancing body in order to flesh out the process of identity formation, this book makes a claim for how subaltern bodies negotiate a cultural identity that continues to mark their bodies on a daily basis. Combining literary and personal narratives with historical and theoretical accounts of Cuban popular dance history, religiosity and culture, this work investigates the power of embodied exchanges: bodies watching, looking, touching and dancing with one another. It sets up a genealogy of how the representations and venerations of the dancing mulata continue to circulate and participate in the volatile political and social economy of contemporary Cuba.

Table of Contents

  • Prologue, Entre Familia/Between Family
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Historicizing Hip(g)nosis
  • Interlude 1: Echando Cuentos/Telling Stories
  • Chapter 2: Hip(g)nosis at Work: Rumors, Social Dance and Cuba’s Academias de Baile
  • Interlude 2: A Marriage Proposal
  • Chapter 3: Hip(g)nosis as Pleasure: The Mulata in Film
  • Interlude 3: Lost Baggage
  • Chapter 4: Hip(g)nosis as Brand: Despelote, Tourism and Mulata Citizenship
  • Conclusion or Rear Endings
  • Index
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Call for papers: Mana Tangatarua: Mixed heritages and biculturalism in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Posted in Anthropology, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Oceania, Social Science, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2015-11-23 03:09Z by Steven

Call for papers: Mana Tangatarua: Mixed heritages and biculturalism in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Dr Zarine L. Rocha

Deadline: 29 February 2016

This volume seeks to explore the diversity of research on “mixed race”/mixed ethnic identity in Aotearoa/New Zealand. “Mixed race” identities have been the subject of growing scholarly interest over the past two decades, particularly in North America and Britain. In multicultural societies, increasing numbers of people of mixed ancestry are identifying themselves outside of traditional racial categories, challenging systems of racial classification and sociological understandings of “race”.

This volume aims to reorient the field of study to look specifically at New Zealand. New Zealand provides a particularly interesting context, with a diverse population, and an unusual state framework around race and ethnicity: mixedness and “mixed ethnic identity” have been officially recognised for more than 20 years. The proposed book will draw on research across disciplines, seeking to explore both the past and the present by looking at how race relates to ethnicity, and how official and social understandings of these terms have changed. It will focus on the interactions between race, ethnicity, national identity, indigeneity and culture, especially in terms of visibility and self-defined identity. The range of themes covered will include the complexity of the lived mixed race experience, the role of indigenous identity, migration, generational change and identity, and the complexities of a multicultural society within a bicultural national framework.

Book Overview

The proposed book will be edited by Dr Zarine L. Rocha (National University of Singapore) and Dr Melinda Webber (University of Auckland).

It will include an introduction written by the editors surveying the current condition of the field of scholarship in the country, putting this in an international context. This will be followed by up to 15 chapters of original research by a selection of senior, mid and early career researchers across a range of disciplines.

Please send your abstracts (150-200 words) and bio (50-100 words) by 29 February 2016, to: Dr Zarine L. Rocha (

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Q&A with Miriam Jiménez Román

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Interviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Women on 2015-11-22 22:02Z by Steven

Q&A with Miriam Jiménez Román

Los Afro-Latinos: A Blog Following the Afro-Latino Experience

Kim Haas

In February, Latina magazine listed “6 Afro-Latinas Who Are Changing the World.” Naturally, Miriam Jiménez Román was second on the list.

Her work as a writer, professor and head of the Afro-Latin@ Forum has educated the world about the Afro-Latin experience and made her an authority on the subject. Her latest work, The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States, has been hailed for critics for its diverse portrait of Black Latinos in America.

Jiménez sat down to speak with Los Afro-Latinos about the book, Afro-Latinos in the media and bridging the gap between African Americans and Latinos.

Los Afro-Latinos: Why did you publish The Afro-Latin@ Reader?

Miriam Jiménez Román: After the 2000 Census was released [the mainstream media], basically posed Latinos and African-Americans in a Black vs. Brown dynamic. And it gave the sense that the [United States] was evolving into this post racial state and we didn’t really have to talk about race anymore. Latinos didn’t have a concern about race because the Census says Latinos, the largest minority group, can be of any race and this is a demonstration of overcoming race in [the United States]. My co-editor [Juan Flores] and I and a number of other people were appalled by that kind of analysis.

First, we’re not in a post racial state. Race is still a very important part of how all of us – globally – live our lives. African-Americans and Latinos need to get together, create change that will benefit not just Latinos and African-Americans but all people of color…

Read the entire interview here.

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Check Both! Afro-Latin@s and the Census

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Census/Demographics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-22 18:53Z by Steven

Check Both! Afro-Latin@s and the Census

NACLA: Reporting on the Americas Since 1967

Miriam Jiménez Román

Earlier in 2010 a series of public service announcements circulated on the Internet in anticipation of the U.S. Census. The three short videos, produced and disseminated by the afrolatin@ forum, a New York–based educational nonprofit, urged Latin@s to identify both racially and ethnically, to “Check Both” on the census form. Targeting Black Latin@s, the campaign sought to challenge the prevailing notion of Latin@s as uniquely exempt from standard racial categories. By claiming both national origins and Black identity, Afro-Latin@s assert the continuing significance of race, both within Latin@ communities and in the broader society. At the very least, being counted on the census as Black and Latin@ brings attention to a social group that has long been invisible and subject to ongoing social and political marginalization…

…Latin@s may well be the only social group in the world who so emphatically insist on their ethnoracial mixture. But even as mestizo, or mixed identity—expressed variably as raza, “rainbow people,” or “mutts”—is a commonplace collective designation, Latin@s are also understood to be “of any race.” This apparent contradiction can be traced to the convergence of two seemingly distinct racial formations. On the one hand, the national ideologies of our countries of origin emphasize racial mixture and equate it with racial democracy—even as whiteness continues to be privileged, and indigenous and African ancestry are viewed as something to be overcome or ignored. On the other hand, in the United States Latin@s have been allocated an ambiguous racial middle ground that invisibilizes those too dark to conform to the mestizo ideal, while simultaneously distancing them from other communities of color, particularly African Americans…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Mejorar la Raza’: An Example of Racism in Latino Culture

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive on 2015-11-18 02:57Z by Steven

‘Mejorar la Raza’: An Example of Racism in Latino Culture

Latino Voices
Huffington Post

Maria Alejandra Casale-Hardin
University of California, Hastings, Law Class of 2018

Samuel Lange Zambrano portraying a 9-year-old Venezuelan boy obsessed with straightening his hair in the 2013 film Pelo Malo.

‘Mejorar la raza’ is a common phrase used in Latin American countries, which means ‘improve the race.’ It implies that you should marry or have children with a whiter person so you’ll have better-looking kids. The phrase is used by people of any race without much thought. A year ago, a Facebook post by a Latina living in Europe started a heated argument about the history of whitewashing in Latin America. She said ‘mejorar la raza’ to justify the massive rape of Indigenous women by European colonizers. A few hours later, the girl erased the post and dismissed it as a joke. I like to hope she felt embarrassed after being called a racist on social media.

As a child, I heard my aunt asking my cousin to break up with the girl he was dating because he should ‘mejorar la raza’. Her biggest concern seemed to be the girl’s Afro-Latino heritage, “You don’t want to bring ugly kids into the world. What if you have a girl and she comes out with pelo malo?” My aunt thought she was talking some sense into her son. After all, “pelo malo” literally translates to ‘bad hair’ but it really means ‘afro-textured hair.’ She didn’t think she was being racist or mean-spirited, she thought it was her duty to point out how hard her imaginary granddaughter’s life will be if she inherited her mom’s curls…

Read the entire article here.

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European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Religion on 2015-11-16 04:00Z by Steven

European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe

University of Minnesota Press
304 pages
6 b&w photos
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper ISBN 978-0-8166-7016-1
Cloth ISBN 978-0-8166-7015-4

Fatima El-Tayeb, Professor of African-American Literature and Culture
University of California, San Diego

European Others offers an interrogation into the position of racialized communities in the European Union, arguing that the tension between a growing nonwhite, non-Christian population and insistent essentialist definitions of Europeanness produces new forms of identity and activism. Moving beyond disciplinary and national limits, Fatima El-Tayeb explores structures of resistance, tracing a Europeanization from below in which migrant and minority communities challenge the ideology of racelessness that places them firmly outside the community of citizens.

Using a notable variety of sources, from drag performances to feminist Muslim activism and Euro hip-hop, El-Tayeb draws on the largely ignored archive of vernacular culture central to resistance by minority youths to the exclusionary nationalism that casts them as threatening outcasts. At the same time, she reveals the continued effect of Europe’s suppressed colonial history on the representation of Muslim minorities as the illiberal Other of progressive Europe.

Presenting a sharp analysis of the challenges facing a united Europe seen by many as a model for twenty-first-century postnational societies, El-Tayeb combines theoretical influences from both sides of the Atlantic to lay bare how Europeans of color are integral to the continent’s past, present, and, inevitably, its future.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Theorizing Urban Minority Communities in Postnational Europe
  • 1. “Stranger in My Own Country”: European Identities, Migration, and Diasporic Soundscapes
  • 2. Dimensions of Diaspora: Women of Color Feminism, Black Europe, and Queer Memory Discourses
  • 3. Secular Submissions: Muslim Europeans, Female Bodies, and Performative Politics
  • 4. “Because It Is Our Stepfatherland”: Queering European Public Spaces
  • Conclusion: “An Infinite and Undefinable Movement”
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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I’m white in Barcelona but in Los Angeles I’m Hispanic?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Audio, Europe, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-11-16 02:42Z by Steven

I’m white in Barcelona but in Los Angeles I’m Hispanic?

Public Radio International

Jaime Gonzalez, BBC World Service Journalist
Los Angeles, California

“You’re not white, where are you from?”

This is how I was greeted a few months ago by a young Black man I interviewed in Los Angeles for a story I was working on.

Having lived in the United States for more than six years, the question did not surprise me, as it was not the first time I had to answer it.

I was born and raised in Barcelona, ​​in northeast Spain, and although I had never given much thought to this matter, I always thought I was white. With dark Mediterranean features, but white.

How else could I define myself if someone asked me about my race?

In 2009, I moved to Miami and soon I became aware of the deep racial divide that still exists in this country.

In America, the definition of what being white means is much more limited than in Spain…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the story here. Download the story here.

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Revisiting Palmares: Maroon Communities in Brazil (Celeste Henery)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2015-11-12 16:37Z by Steven

Revisiting Palmares: Maroon Communities in Brazil (Celeste Henery)

African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

Celeste Henery, Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas, Austin

This is a guest post by Celeste Henery, a Research Associate at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. She completed a PhD in Anthropology at UT in 2010. Her research and writing focuses on issues of gendered blackness, mental wellness, and diaspora. She has conducted anthropological research in Brazil and in the United States. In addition to working on her book manuscript, she is applying her anthropological and race scholarship as a social historian for post-conviction habeas corpus proceedings. Dr. Henery is currently continuing her research on gender and race with a geographic focus on Texas and the U.S. South.

AAIHS Blogger Greg Childs’ recent post, “Visible Fugitives,” initiates a welcomed conversation about black geographies. As Childs suggests, quilombos, or maroon communities in Brazil, have played integral roles in the social constructions of such notions as the urban and rural, as well as conceptions of black subjectivity and resistance in Brazil. In the years following the fall of Palmares, quilombos persisted. In 1988, when Brazil’s current Constitution was drafted, quilombos attained state recognition and guarantees to their land. The 1988 Constitution and subsequent legislation created a bureaucratic process for quilombos to acquire land titles. According to statistics from the Fundação Cultural Palmares and the INCRA (the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform), the two state agencies responsible for the recognition and land titling of quilombos, there are over 2,500 recognized communities—1,528 in the titling process and 196 possess titles.

However, much like their ancestors, many quilombolas, or quilombo descendants continue to struggle to stay connected to their lands and sustain themselves in spite of titles. Issues of geography and land are intricately woven into their livelihood and they raise pertinent questions about quilombos and the interplay of black geography and black racial politics in Brazil. For those interested in diaspora, quilombos also provide another critical subject of discussion about the familiar notions of home, dispersal, and sustainability–all factors that are pertinent to disparate black realities.

This post draws on my fieldwork in several quilombola communities in the state of Goiás, Brazil. These communities had registered, if not already had received their title by the time I began conducting research in 2005. These were all rural communities. One was more remote than the others–at a distance from infrastructure such as stores, hospitals, and social services. As a result, their geography presented distinct and ongoing challenges…

Read the entire article here.

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More Than Just Party Music: New Book ‘Remixing Reggaetón’ Mines the Complicated Racial Politics of the Genre

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-12 02:51Z by Steven

More Than Just Party Music: New Book ‘Remixing Reggaetón’ Mines the Complicated Racial Politics of the Genre


Walter Thompson-Hernández
Los Angeles, California

For centuries, the complexities of racism in Latin America have been overshadowed by the false perception that high rates of racial mixture have created a racially democratic Latin American society. In her new book, Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico, scholar Petra Rivera-Rideau challenges this idea through the prism of a genre of urban music that gained momentum in impoverished neighborhoods on the island and ultimately became a global pop phenomenon.Read the entire article here.

Positing that reggaetón challenges the racial democracy myth, Remixing Reggaetón focuses on leading Puerto Rican artists like Tego Calderon and Ivy Queen, who are shifting traditional views on gender, sexuality, and race through provocative, unapologetic performances. Using a historical and contemporary analysis, Rivera-Rideau situates the music against the backdrop of Puerto Rico’s legacy of anti-black racism, looking at how reggaetón both jump-starts the party and raises critical awareness.

We caught up with Rivera-Rideau to learn more about the motivations for her project, and how a sound popping off in the club is providing us with a language to talk about Afro-Latinidad

Read the entire interview here.

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