Indian allies and white antagonists: toward an alternative mestizaje on Mexico’s Costa Chica

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Mexico, Native Americans/First Nation on 2016-06-24 14:23Z by Steven

Indian allies and white antagonists: toward an alternative mestizaje on Mexico’s Costa Chica

Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies
Published online: 2015-10-05
DOI: 10.1080/17442222.2015.1094873

Laura A. Lewis, Professor of Latin American Anthropology
University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

San Nicolás Tolentino, Guerrero, Mexico, is a ‘mixed’ black-Indian agricultural community on the coastal belt of Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, the Costa Chica. This article examines local expressions of race in San Nicolás in relation to Mexico’s national ideology of mestizaje (race mixing), which excludes blackness but is foundational to Mexican racial identities. San Nicolás’s black-Indians are strongly nationalistic while expressing a collective or regional identity different from those of peoples they identify as Indians and as whites. Such collective expression produces an alternative model of mestizaje, here explored through local agrarian history and several village festivals. It is argued that this alternative model favors Indians and distances whites, thereby challenging dominant forms of Mexican mestizaje.

Read or purchase the article here.

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States of Denial

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-06-24 01:23Z by Steven

States of Denial

Fordham Law News: From New York City To You
2016-06-04

When Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008, some pundits declared the United States to have finally reached a triumphal post-racial stage, an era of long-awaited racial harmony after the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Yet, almost a decade later, race remains a source of tension and injury.

The situation is not so different in Latin America, and the similarities are of great interest to Professor Tanya Hernández. In her book Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law and the New Civil Rights Response (Cambridge University Press), Hernández examines the racial landscape of Latin American countries and uncovers customary laws of racial regulation that, while perhaps not as codified as Jim Crow laws, are as obstructive to genuine racial equality.

With degrees from Brown and Yale Law School, Hernández has studied comparative race relations and antidiscrimination law for over 25 years. In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant to consult on racial equality projects in France and Trinidad.

In this excerpt of her book, Hernández introduces a legal critique of race regulations in Latin America and the role of the Latin American states in erecting and sustaining racial hierarchies…

There are approximately 150 million people of African descent in Latin America, representing about one-third of the total population. Yet, these are considered conservative demographic figures given the histories of undercounting the number of persons of African descent on Latin American national censuses and often completely omitting a racial/ethnic origin census question. At the same time, persons of African descent make up more than 40 percent of the poor in Latin America and have been consistently marginalized and denigrated as undesirable elements of the society since the abolition of slavery across the Americas. Yet, the view that “racism does not exist” is pervasive in Latin America despite the advent of social justice movements and social science researchers demonstrating the contrary. When the BBC surveyed Latin Americans in 2005 regarding the existence of racism, a significant number of respondents emphatically denied the existence of racism. Many, for instance, made statements such as “Latin Americans are not racist,” and “Latin-America is not a racist region, for the simple fact that the majority of the population is either indigenous, creole, or mixed.”

Thus the denial of racism is rooted in what many scholars have critiqued as the “myth of racial democracy”—the notion that the racial mixture (mestizaje/mestiçagem) in a population is emblematic of racial harmony and insulated from racial discord and inequality. Academic scholarship has in the last twenty years critiqued Latin American “mestizaje” theories of racial mixture as emblematic of racial harmony. Yet, Latin Americans still very much adhere to the notion that racial mixture and the absence of Jim Crow racial segregation are such a marked contrast to the United States racial history that the region views itself as what I term “racially innocent.”…

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

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No Telephone to Heaven

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Novels, United Kingdom, United States on 2016-06-23 23:51Z by Steven

No Telephone to Heaven

Plume
March 1996 (Originally published in 1987)
224 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780452275690

Michelle Cliff (1946-2016)

A brilliant Jamaican-American writer takes on the themes of colonialism, race, myth, and political awakening through the experiences of a light-skinned woman named Clare Savage. The story is one of discovery as Clare moves through a variety of settings – Jamaica, England, America – and encounters people who affect her search for place and self.

The structure of No Telephone to Heaven combines naturalism and lyricism, and traverses space and time, dream and reality, myth and history, reflecting the fragmentation of the protagonist, who nonetheless seeks wholeness and connection. In this deeply poetic novel there exist several levels: the world Clare encounters, and a world of which she only gradually becomes aware – a world of extreme poverty, the real Jamaica, not the Jamaica of the middle class, not the Jamaica of the tourist. And Jamaica – almost a character in the book – is described in terms of extraordinary beauty, coexisting with deep human tragedy.

The violence that rises out of extreme oppression, the divided loyalties of a colonized person, sexual dividedness, and the dividedness of a person neither white nor black – all of these are truths that Clare must face. Overarching all the themes in this exceptionally fine novel is the need to become whole, and the decisions and the courage demanded to achieve that wholeness.

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Journey into Speech-A Writer between Two Worlds: An Interview with Michelle Cliff

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-06-23 23:33Z by Steven

Journey into Speech-A Writer between Two Worlds: An Interview with Michelle Cliff

African American Review
Volume 28, Number 2, Black Women’s Culture Issue (Summer, 1994)
pages 273-281
DOI: 10.2307/3041999

Opal Palmer Adisa, Professor of Creative Writing
California College of the Arts

Among the subjects Jamaican born writer Michelle Cliff explores in her writings are ancestry, the impact of colonization on the Caribbean, the relationships among and interconnection of African people in the diaspora, racism, and the often erroneous way in which the history of black people is recorded. In her latest novel, Free Enterprise (1993), Cliff attempt: to rewrite the story of Mary Ellen Pleasant, the African American woman who supplied money with which John Brown bought arms for the raid at Harper’s Ferry. Her other two novels, No Telephone to Heaven (1987) and Abeng (1984), are semi-autobiographical and explore the life of Clare Savage, fair-skinned girl raised between Jamaica and North America, who must reconcile her mixed heritage in a changing society. Other works by Cliff include Bodies of Water (1990), The Land of Look Behind (1985), and Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise (1980).

The following text is based on two separate interviews: one done in person in Albany, California, in December 1989, and the other conducted over the telephone in September 1993.

Adlsa: When did you find your voice, when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Cliff: I always wanted to write. Actually there was a terrible incident. I don’t know if I should tell you, but I will. When I was at Saint Andrews I was keeping a diary. I had been very influenced by The Diary of Anne Frank, and as a result of seeing the movie and reading her diary, I got a diary of my own. I wasn’t living with my mother and father at this time; I was living with my aunt in Kingston [Jamaica] and going to Saint Andrews. This aunt also had a house in Saint Ann, where we used to stay on the weekends. Anyway, my parents broke into my bedroom in Kingston when we were not at the house. They went into my room, broke open my drawer, took out and broke the lock on my diary, and read it. Then they arrived at the other house. My father and mother had my diary in their hands and sat down and read it out loud in front of me, my aunt, and everybody else. My sister was there. There were very intimate details; there were a lot of things about leaving school and not going to class and playing hookey, but there was also the experience of the first time I menstruated, and I remember just being shattered. My father read it, and my mother was in total collaboration. (Pause.) Anyway I remember just crying and being sad and whatnot. I spoke to my sister about it once, and she remembered, even though she was seven at the time. And she said, “Don’t you remember screaming and saying, ‘Don’t I have any rights?'”…

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Confounding Anti-racism: Mixture, Racial Democracy, and Post-racial Politics in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-06-22 17:48Z by Steven

Confounding Anti-racism: Mixture, Racial Democracy, and Post-racial Politics in Brazil

Critical Sociology
July 2016, Volume 42, Numbers 4-5
pages 495-513
DOI: 10.1177/0896920513508663

Alexandre Emboaba Da Costa, Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Policy Studies
University of Alberta, Canada

In this article, I analyze the particularity of post-racial ideology in Brazil. I examine recent deployments of mixture and racial democracy as re-articulations of historically hegemonic versions of these ideologies that minimize the problem of racism, deny its systemic nature, and deem ethno-racial policies as threats to achieving nonracial belonging and citizenship. Drawing on scholarship on race and racism from the United States, Brazil, and elsewhere in Latin America, I delineate a relational framework for analyzing the post-racial and apply this framework to three examples of post-racial ideology. Through these examples, I illustrate the problematic logics shaping aggressive investments in the post-racial as future promise to the detriment of addressing the unequal effects racial difference presents for inclusion/exclusion today. The article asserts the necessity of mounting transnational and interdisciplinary theoretical, epistemological, and practical strategies to challenge the ways post-racial ideologies rearticulate racial hierarchies, maintain racial subordination, and delimit social change.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Michelle Cliff, Who Wrote of Colonialism and Racism, Dies at 69

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-06-20 20:33Z by Steven

Michelle Cliff, Who Wrote of Colonialism and Racism, Dies at 69

The New York Times
2016-06-18

William Grimes


Michelle Cliff sometime in the 1980s. In 1975, she met the poet Adrienne Rich, who became her partner and died in 2012.

Michelle Cliff, a Jamaican-American writer whose novels, stories and nonfiction essays drew on her multicultural identity to probe the psychic disruptions and historical distortions wrought by colonialism and racism, died on June 12 at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif. She was 69.

The cause was liver failure, according to the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust. Ms. Cliff and Ms. Rich, the poet, were longtime partners.

Ms. Cliff’s entire creative life was a quest to give voice to suppressed histories, starting with her own. Her first essay, “Notes on Speechlessness,” written for a women’s writing group in 1978, can be read as the keynote for her subsequent work, which navigated the complexities of her life situation — she was a light-skinned black lesbian raised partly in Jamaica and partly in New York, and educated in Britain — against the broader background of the Caribbean experience…

…In her first novel, “Abeng” (1984), she introduced Clare Savage, a light-skinned 12-year-old Jamaican girl who befriends the dark-skinned Zoe, whose family squats on Clare’s grandmother’s farm. It is an idyllic relationship that cannot survive the harsh realities of race and class.

“Emotionally, the book is an autobiography,” Ms. Cliff told the reference work Contemporary Authors in 1986. “I was a girl similar to Clare and have spent most of my life and most of my work exploring my identity as a light-skinned Jamaican, the privilege and the damage that comes from that identity.”

Clare returns to Jamaica as an adult in the novel “No Telephone to Heaven” (1987), which, in a series of flashbacks, tells of her life in New York and London and her struggles to come to terms with who she is…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Brazil, Mixture Or Massacre? Essays in the Genocide of a Black People

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-06-19 23:41Z by Steven

Brazil, Mixture Or Massacre? Essays in the Genocide of a Black People

The Majority Press
1989
214 pages
5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
Paperback ISBN: 978-0912469263

Abdias do Nascimento (1914-2014)

Translated by Elisa Larkin Nascimento

Nascimento explodes the myth of a “racial democracy” in Brazil. The author is a major figure in Afro-Brazilian arts, politics and scholarship. He founded the Black Experimental Theatre in Rio de Janeiro in 1944 and was an elected member of the Brazilian Congress from 1982 to 1986.

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Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery on 2016-06-19 23:41Z by Steven

Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic

University of Pennsylvania Press
August 2016
304 pages
6 x 9
6 illus.
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8122-4840-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8122-9306-7

Jennifer L. Palmer, Assistant Professor of History
University of Georgia

Following the stories of families who built their lives and fortunes across the Atlantic Ocean, Intimate Bonds explores how households anchored the French empire and shaped the meanings of race, slavery, and gender in the early modern period. As race-based slavery became entrenched in French laws, all household members in the French Atlantic world —regardless of their status, gender, or race—negotiated increasingly stratified legal understandings of race and gender.

Through her focus on household relationships, Jennifer L. Palmer reveals how intimacy not only led to the seemingly immutable hierarchies of the plantation system but also caused these hierarchies to collapse even before the age of Atlantic revolutions. Placing families at the center of the French Atlantic world, Palmer uses the concept of intimacy to illustrate how race, gender, and the law intersected to form a new worldview. Through analysis of personal, mercantile, and legal relationships, Intimate Bonds demonstrates that even in an era of intensifying racial stratification, slave owners and slaves, whites and people of color, men and women all adapted creatively to growing barriers, thus challenging the emerging paradigm of the nuclear family. This engagingly written history reveals that personal choices and family strategies shaped larger cultural and legal shifts in the meanings of race, slavery, family, patriarchy, and colonialism itself.

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Considering Brazil’s Racial Heritage

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-06-19 17:30Z by Steven

Considering Brazil’s Racial Heritage

Hyperallergic
2014-12-15

Laura C. Mallonee

The 18th-century Brazilian sculptor Aleijadinho was the mixed-race son of a black slave and one of his country’s most legendary artists. In the gold-rich state of Minas Gerais, where millions lost their lives in the mines, tourists still pay to visit the immaculate baroque churches he embellished. Though leprosy took his fingers, rumor has it he continued chiseling away with tools tied to the stumps of his hands.

Aleijadinho’s enigmatic life married two contrasting subjects that have preoccupied Adriana Varejão for the past 20 years: the oft-forgotten history of Brazil’s mestizo identity, and the dramatic baroque art of the colonial period. These underpin series like Tongues and Incisions (1997–2003) and more recently Polvo (2013–2014), both which are currently featured in Adriana Varejão at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston — the artist’s first U.S. solo museum show.

Varejão spoke with us recently from her studio in Rio de Janeiro about her childhood in Brasilia, why she is drawn to painting meat, and how she feels about being a “Latin American artist.”

Laura C. Mallonee: Your family lived in Brasilia when you were very young, because your father was a pilot in the air force. That would have been less than a decade after the city was completed in 1960. What was it like?

Adriana Varejão: Just emptiness. No history. Very red, because the earth is red, and there was a lot of earth around because there was not much vegetation. They’d just built everything. This crazy president had decided to build a capital in the middle of nowhere. They called many people from all over Brazil to build Brasilia, so there was a huge amount of immigrants. Black people, Indian people, very mixed race. Very, very poor people. And they built these satellite cities where these people used to live. They were miserable cities. My mother used to work with child malnutrition in a hospital in one of them. I remember the kids with those huge bellies…

LCM: How do you view yourself racially?

AV: I am as Portuguese as I am Indian as I am black. I believe in building a mestizo identity, which means to have everything together with balance. When people come to Brazil, they forget their ancestral identity. They tend to. So Brazilians become Brazilians very quick. People don’t say here, “I’m Afro-this and this.” Or, “I’m Portuguese this and this.” No, they say, “I’m Brazilian.” This is a good point about us…

Read the entire interview here.

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Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-06-19 02:02Z by Steven

Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil

Princeton University Press
2016
328 pages
6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 9780691169385
eBook ISBN: 978140088107

Tianna S. Paschel, Assistant Professor of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

After decades of denying racism and underplaying cultural diversity, Latin American states began adopting transformative ethno-racial legislation in the late 1980s. In addition to symbolic recognition of indigenous peoples and black populations, governments in the region created a more pluralistic model of citizenship and made significant reforms in the areas of land, health, education, and development policy. Becoming Black Political Subjects explores this shift from color blindness to ethno-racial legislation in two of the most important cases in the region: Colombia and Brazil.

Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, Tianna Paschel shows how, over a short period, black movements and their claims went from being marginalized to become institutionalized into the law, state bureaucracies, and mainstream politics. The strategic actions of a small group of black activists—working in the context of domestic unrest and the international community’s growing interest in ethno-racial issues—successfully brought about change. Paschel also examines the consequences of these reforms, including the institutionalization of certain ideas of blackness, the reconfiguration of black movement organizations, and the unmaking of black rights in the face of reactionary movements.

Becoming Black Political Subjects offers important insights into the changing landscape of race and Latin American politics and provokes readers to adopt a more transnational and flexible understanding of social movements.

Table of Contents

  • List of Organizations
  • 1. Political Field Alignments
  • 2. Making Mestizajes
  • 3. Black Movements in Colorblind Fields
  • 4. The Multicultural Alignment
  • 5. The Racial Equality Alignment
  • 6. Navigating the Ethno-Racial State
  • 7. Unmaking Black Political Subjects
  • 8. Rethinking Race, Rethinking Movements
  • Methodological Appendix
  • Notes
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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