The Time of the Multiracial

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-09-03 17:25Z by Steven

The Time of the Multiracial

American Literary History
Volume 27, Number 3, Fall 2015
pages 549-556
DOI: 10.1093/alh/ajv026

Habiba Ibrahim, Associate Professor of English
University of Washington, Seattle

Habiba Ibrahim is the author of  Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism (2012). Her current book project, Oceanic Lifespans, examines how age and racial blackness have been mutually constituted.

These three recent studies all read how mixed racialism expresses and challenges the terms of US nationalism during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Collectively, they account for a period when the nation developed as a global force through a series of racializing projects, implemented through intra- and international war, imperialist expansion and conquest, and the consolidation of the color line at home. Tropes such as miscegenation, tragic mulatta, and genres of mixedness such as the “racial romance” (Sheffer 3) reveal a key aspect of the cultural imagination during the turbulent era that led up to and inaugurated the “American Century.” Figures of deviant intimacy—interracial sex, incest, same-sex filiation—and figures of gender, such as the mulatto/a, and the tragic muse revealed the cultural outcomes of the unfinished project of nation building. All of these studies take racial mixedness and its correlating categories as key analytical starting points for unmasking the neutrality or invisibility of state power. Thus, they bring to mind the urgency of the current moment: what analytics can interrupt the post-ness—postracialism, postfeminism, and postidentitarianism—of the present?

1. Neoliberalism, Postidentity

Twenty years ago, mixed racialism first appealed to literary scholars because it offered a critical space in which to explore the era’s political contradictions and transitions. During the heyday of the so-called multiracial movement, key developments in the cultural politics of identity were well under way. The culture wars were still raging with neoconservative moralists and left-of-center liberals vying for influence over social and political life. At the same time, neoconservatives  and neoliberals converged around the erosion of identitarian categories as social tools for making political and historical critiques. By the neoliberal era of the 1980s and 1990s identity was increasingly viewed as the stuff of separatist and single-issue groupthink, rather than as an instrument through which to analyze the operations and historicity of power. Perhaps this explains the remarkably accelerating cultural and scholarly interest in multiracial identity by the mid-1990s. After all, what did the appearance of the multiracial indicate? Under the umbrella term “multiracialism,” subjects with competing social, political, and cultural views formulated clashing accounts of how to situate race in US discourse. As a diagnostic tool, multiracialism bore the potential to cut through the present.

2. Gender, Sexuality, Family

Twenty years later, interdisciplinary scholarship in philosophy, performance studies, literary, and cultural studies increasingly take multiracialism as a starting point for thinking historically about social identities and cultural production. Current literary scholarship retrieves unfamiliar, forgotten history in order to diagnose the present, or to reconsider our present-day relationship to the historical. Some scholars have started with how multiracialism is treated within current US discourse—as the balm of postracial transcendence on the one side, as another separatist identity on the other—to ask how we’ve arrived at these particular interpretations. This line of inquiry denaturalizes present-day meanings attached to the multiracial and clearly departs from work that vehemently argues one position or the other.

What stands out about more recent studies—Kimberly Snyder Manganelli’s Transatlantic Spectacles of Race (2012), Jolie A. Sheffer’s The Romance of Race (2013), and Diana Rebekkah Paulin’s Imperfect Unions (2012)—is the way they represent a decisive turn toward staunchly comparativist, even transnational approach to multiracial literary studies. Comparativism indicates that the field is broadening its spatial and analytical scope to pursue fuller explorations of the historical and historiographical. Such a broadened scope repositions interest in the cultural politics of gender, sexuality, and family as deep engagements with the modern.

Like Suzanne Bost’s Mulattas and Mestizas (2003), Teresa Zackodnik’s The Mulatta and the Politics of Race (2004), and Eve Allegra Raimon’s The “Tragic Mulatta” Revisited (2004), Transatlantic Spectacles of Race, investigates early intersections between racial amalgamation and womanhood by exploring how the figurative feminization of racial mixedness has been instrumentalized to vie for various nationalist and counter-nationalist outcomes over the long nineteenth century. Manganelli’s unique contribution is to read the mixed-race “tragic mulatta” of the Americas alongside its heretofore-unacknowledged counterpart, the Jewish “tragic muse” of Victorian British literature, thereby positioning both blackness and Jewishness along the same…

Read or purchase the review of the three books here.

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Double-Consciousness and the Rhetoric of Barack Obama: The Price and Promise of Citizenship

Posted in Barack Obama, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2015-09-03 17:13Z by Steven

Double-Consciousness and the Rhetoric of Barack Obama: The Price and Promise of Citizenship

University of South Carolina Press
June 2015
224 pages
6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61117-531-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61117-532-5

Robert E. Terrill, Associate Professor
Department of Communication & Culture
Indiana University, Bloomington

An examination of President Obama’s oratory as a reflection of the African American experience

Robert E. Terrill argues that, to invent a robust manner of addressing one another as citizens, Americans must learn to draw on the delicate indignities of racial exclusion that have stained citizenship since its inception. In Double-Consciousness and the Rhetoric of Barack Obama, Terrill demonstrates how President Barack Obama’s public address models such a discourse.

Terrill contends that Obama’s most effective oratory invites his audiences to experience a form of “double-consciousness,” famously described by W. E. B. Du Bois as a feeling of “two-ness” resulting from the African American experience of “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” It is described as an effect of cruel alienation that can also bring a gift of “second-sight” in the form of perspectives on practices of citizenship not available to those in positions of privilege. When addressing fellow citizens, Obama is asking each to share in the “peculiar sensation” that Du Bois described. The racial history of U.S. citizenship is a resource for inventing contemporary ways of speaking about race.

Through close analyses of selected speeches from Obama’s 2008 campaign and first presidential term, this book argues that Obama does not present double-consciousness merely as a point of view but as an idiom with which we might speak to one another. Of course, as Du Bois’s work reminds us, double-consciousness results from imposition and encumbrance, so that Obama’s oratory presents a mode of address that emphasizes the burdens of citizenship together with the benefits, the price as well as the promise.

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Vanishing Eden: White Construction of Memory, Meaning, and Identity in a Racially Changing City

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2015-09-03 01:08Z by Steven

Vanishing Eden: White Construction of Memory, Meaning, and Identity in a Racially Changing City

Temple University Press
November 2015
198 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-1-43991-119-8
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-43991-118-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-43991-120-4

Michael T. Maly, Associate Professor of Sociology; Director of the Policy Research Collaborative
Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois

Heather M. Dalmage, Professor of Sociology; Director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation
Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois

For many whites, desegregation initially felt like an attack on their community. But how has the process of racial change affected whites’ understanding of community and race? In Vanishing Eden, Michael Maly and Heather Dalmage provide an intriguing analysis of the experiences and memories of whites who lived in Chicago neighborhoods experiencing racial change during the 1950s through the 1980s. They pay particular attention to examining how young people made sense of what was occurring, and how this experience impacted their lives.

Using a blend of urban studies and whiteness studies, the authors examine how racial solidarity and whiteness were created and maintained—often in subtle and unreflective ways. Vanishing Eden also considers how race is central to the ways social institutions such as housing, education, and employment function. Surveying the shifting social, economic, and racial contexts, the authors explore how race and class at local and national levels shaped the organizing strategies of those whites who chose to stay as racial borders began to change.

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Barack Obama and the Third Wave: the syntaxes of whiteness and articulating difference in the post-identity era

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-09-03 00:56Z by Steven

Barack Obama and the Third Wave: the syntaxes of whiteness and articulating difference in the post-identity era

Politics, Groups, and Identities
Volume 2, Issue 4, 2014
pages 573-588
DOI: 10.1080/21565503.2014.969739

Melanye T. Price, Assistant Professor
Africana Studies and Political Science Departments
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Emerging critiques of Third Wave Feminism and its employment of grammars of whiteness provide a framework for analyzing racial discourses emerging in the same social context. Like Third Wave Feminists, Barack Obama’s political ascendancy happens in a post-identity (post-racial, post-feminist) moment where members of ascriptive categories having achieved significant civil rights gains begin to assert their rights to live unconstrained by racialized and gendered histories and norms. Using the syntaxes of whiteness outlined previously by Rebecca Clark Mane, I critically analyze Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech. I argue that Obama does the following: he provides a racial analysis that is disconnected from historical context, suggests that prevailing isms are primarily relegated to the past, conflates oppositional racial experiences, and relies too heavily on his own personal narrative to justify claims. These discursive practices have damaging effects for our broader understanding of contemporary racial politics. Moreover, reliance on Obama’s perspective on American race relations makes it more difficult to argue and demonstrate that material inequalities are produced by structural injustice that continues to over-determine the lives of certain groups. Additionally, advocates and activists who continue to make identity-based claims are viewed as either holding on too tightly to the past or failing to understand the present.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The PBS NewsHour Launches Year Long Conversation on Race, Diversity and Intolerance

Posted in Articles, Forthcoming Media, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-09-03 00:42Z by Steven

The PBS NewsHour Launches Year Long Conversation on Race, Diversity and Intolerance

PBS NewsHour
2015-08-31

Media Relations Contacts:

Nick Massella, Director of Audience Engagement and Communications
James Blue, Senior Content and Special Projects Producer

WASHINGTON, DC (August 31, 2015) – Michael Brown. Freddie Gray. Eric Garner. These are just three names that have dominated news coverage in the past year. Different stories and different circumstances, provoking similar conversations about race on a national and international level. They underscore the reality that America’s deepest wound is far from healed.

Meanwhile, debates about immigration and citizenship have left many feeling alienated and angry on all sides of the issues. A recent New York Times / CBS News poll shows that the majority of Americans think race relations are bad.

With all of that in mind, the PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff has launched a yearlong series focusing on diversity, divisions and various efforts and ideas to bridge and heal these issues. This series includes a deep look at the enduring and painful issues we will call Race Matters. On broadcast and online, NewsHour will host conversations on finding solutions to the painful divides that continue to plague our communities.

Returning to the NewsHour to take a leading role in this project is special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault. The series will take viewers throughout the United States to the Americans having tough conversations on these important issues and will feature experts on race relations and their proposals for how to address race-fueled issues. This is a periodic series that will air on the program frequently throughout the year…

Read the entire press release here.

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Victoria Bynum to speak on the “Free State of Jones” at the Lauren Rogers Museum

Posted in Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Mississippi, United States on 2015-09-03 00:28Z by Steven

Victoria Bynum to speak on the “Free State of Jones” at the Lauren Rogers Museum

“Civil War Era Drawings from the Becker Collection” (2015-09-06 through 2015-11-15)
Lauren Rogers Museum of Art
565 N. Fifth Avenue
Laurel, Mississippi 39440
2015-09-10, 17:30 CDT (Local Time)

Vikki Bynum, Emeritus Professor of History
Texas State University, San Marcos

I’m pleased to announce that on September 10, 2015, I’ll be speaking on The Free State of Jones at the Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, Mississippi. The talk begins at 5:30 p.m.; open to the public, admission is free. Donations are accepted.

My talk is part of the museum’s exciting new exhibition, Civil War Era Drawings from the Becker Collection (see description below), which will run from September 6 through November 15, 2015. Hope to see you there!…

For more information, click here.

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Four-country newspaper framing of Barack Obama’s multiracial identity in the 2008 US presidential election

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-09-02 22:02Z by Steven

Four-country newspaper framing of Barack Obama’s multiracial identity in the 2008 US presidential election

Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies
Volume 35, Issue 3, 2014
pages 23-38
DOI: 10.1080/02560054.2014.955867

Kioko Ireri, Assistant Professor of Journalism & Mass Communication
United States International University-Africa, Nairobi, Kenya

Though Barack Obama was the first African American presidential nominee for a major party in the history of the US presidential election, his multiracial identity put him under intense scrutiny during the 2008 election – more than any other previous black aspirants for the White House. Using quantitative content analysis of election stories in the newspapers of four countries (New York Times – US; Times – Britain; China Daily – China and Daily Nation – Kenya), this comparative study examines the prevalence of four racial frames associated with Obama’s multilayered racial identity: ‘African American’, ‘black’, ‘Kenyan roots’ and ‘white roots’. In addition, the study investigates the four newspapers’ valence coverage of the four racial frames in relation to Obama’s candidacy. The findings indicate that ‘Kenyan roots’ was the racial frame which occurred most frequently, followed by the ‘black’ frame. Overall, Obama received more positive coverage than negative across the racial frames depicted in the four newspapers.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Redefining Racial Categories: The Dynamics of Identity Among Brazilian-Americans

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-09-02 21:49Z by Steven

Redefining Racial Categories: The Dynamics of Identity Among Brazilian-Americans

Immigrants & Minorities: Historical Studies in Ethnicity, Migration and Diaspora
Volume 33, Issue 1, 2015
pages 45-65
DOI: 10.1080/02619288.2014.909732

Catarina Fritz
Department of Sociology and Corrections
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Research based on a sample of Brazilian youth living in Massachusetts reveals a variety of responses to racialisation of their phenotypes. Caught between the fluid patterns of colour categories found in Brazilian society and the more rigid racial stratification that characterises the USA, Brazilian-Americans have followed a variety of strategies to adapt to this situation. By exploring the reactions of these young adults of different appearance along the colour continuum to the constraints of the dominant society, questions concerning the future dynamics of race relations in the USA are raised against a background of the continuing post-racialism debate.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Adolescent Racial Identity: Self-Identification of Multiple and “Other” Race/Ethnicities

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Teaching Resources, United States on 2015-09-02 21:30Z by Steven

Adolescent Racial Identity: Self-Identification of Multiple and “Other” Race/Ethnicities

Urban Education
Published online before print: 2015-03-18
DOI: 10.1177/0042085915574527

Bryn Harris, Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Colorado, Denver

Russell D. Ravert, Associate Professor
Department of Human Development & Family Studies
University of Missouri, Columbia

Amanda L. Sullivan, Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

This mixed methods study focused on adolescents who rejected conventional singular racial/ethnic categorization by selecting multiple race/ethnicities or writing descriptions of “Other” racial/ethnic identities in response to a survey item asking them to identify their race/ethnicity. Written responses reflected eight distinct categories ranging from elaborative descriptions of conventional race categories to responses refusing the construct of race/ethnicity. Students’ endorsement of multiple or “Other” ethnicities, and the resultant categories, differed by gender, grade, school type, and school compositions. Findings support scholars’ concern that common conceptualizations of race may not capture the complexity of self-identified racial categories among youth.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Locating queer-mixed experiences: Narratives of geography and migration

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2015-09-02 20:29Z by Steven

Locating queer-mixed experiences: Narratives of geography and migration

Qualitative Social Work
Volume 14, Number 5 (September 2015)
pages 651-669
DOI: 10.1177/1473325014561250

Kimberly D. Hudson
School of Social Work
University of Washington

Gita R. Mehrotra, Assistant Professor of Social Work
Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Social work scholarship concerned with mixed-race and queer identities is growing and ever-changing, yet often treats race and sexuality as separate experiences independent from context and environment. In addition, in studies of mixed-race people, the legacy of the Black-White/US-based multiracial paradigm and the history of such research using race as the only or primary analytic has left a dearth of studies that seek to understand mixed-race experiences within geographical, transnational and intersectional contexts. In this paper, we extend previous work focused on situational and contextual multiracial identities through an interview-based study of a sample of 12 queer and mixed-race individuals. We employ a narrative analysis to explore how emergent themes of geography and migration are salient to self-making processes of participants. Findings include: (1) diverse geographic and migration histories among participants; (2) interviewees’ use of discursive strategies that draw upon experiences of geography and migration within the narrative structure; and (3) the critical role of geography and migration in expanding and changing participants’ identity discourses and in shaping individuals’ identity and sense of community. Ultimately, this work serves as a call for on-going attention to how geography and migration, as well as intersectional and transnational perspectives, add depth and texture to studies of queer-mixed people while also offering specificity to social work’s broader commitment to context and environment.

Read or purchase the article here.

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