In Puerto Rico, a push to revive indigenous culture

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-22 19:18Z by Steven

In Puerto Rico, a push to revive indigenous culture

The Associated Press
2015-04-20

Anica Coto

SAN LORENZO, Puerto Rico (AP) — In Puerto Rico’s misty, bamboo-studded mountains, elementary school students are studying a nearly extinct language, beating on drums and growing native crops like cassava and sweet potato as they learn about the indigenous people who lived on the island before Christopher Columbus.

The children in four towns in the island’s southeast corner play a ceremonial ball game that was called batey by the native Tainos, who were all but wiped out during colonial times. The boys and girls also learn words from the local Arawak language, which was in part rebuilt with help from linguists, and still exists in varying forms among other native groups in the hemisphere.

Now, a group of academics and educators hope to expand the Taino education program to other public schools around the U.S. territory in an effort to teach children this little known part of the territory’s history.

“If you don’t know your roots, you don’t know yourself,” said anthropologist Carlalynne Yarey Melendez, director of the Taino cultural organization that runs the educational program. “There are so many communities and schools that want the classes, but I can’t keep up with the demand.”

Puerto Ricans’ interest in the territory’s indigenous past has grown in recent years, with 42,000 of the 3.7 million people then living on the island identifying themselves as at least partially Taino in the 2010 Census.

But even though that’s just a little more than 1 percent, Puerto Rico’s legislature is considering a proposal to declare Melendez’s Naguake organization to be the island’s first indigenous-based community. The designation would allow it to receive federal funds under a program that aids native groups, and expand the program to other towns…

Read the entire article here.

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Brazilian soap operas slowly cast black middle class

Posted in Articles, Arts, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Social Science on 2015-04-12 02:12Z by Steven

Brazilian soap operas slowly cast black middle class

Al Jazeera America
2015-04-11

Matt Sandy

Morgann Jezequel


Actor Sílvio Guindane poses on the set of the telenovela Vitória at Record studios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October, 2014. Rafael Fabres / Getty Images Assignment for Al Jazeera America

Black actors move beyond roles as maids, thieves and drug dealers, but insiders say more diverse film/TV writers needed

RIO DE JANEIRO – Dressed in a fitted white designer shirt, Sílvio Guindane stood beneath a chandelier on a grand wrought iron staircase and smiled confidently. Below, a set of ornate drinking glasses sat next to a collection of spirit bottles. Above, framed monochrome prints and color landscapes adorned the walls.

It is an archetypal image of upper middle class Brazil. And for good reason as this is the set of “Vitória,” one of the country’s ubiquitous novelas, the phenomenally popular soap operas that for more than 50 years have thrived on the country’s major television networks — often by portraying lavish lifestyles beyond the means of most viewers.

There is just one thing that is unusual: Guindane, 31, who plays a successful engineer, is black…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Blood Brothers: Confraternities and Social Mobility for Afro-Mexicans

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Religion on 2015-04-12 01:30Z by Steven

Black Blood Brothers: Confraternities and Social Mobility for Afro-Mexicans

University Press of Florida
2006-05-30
304 pages
6 x 9
Hardback ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-2942-9

Nicole von Germeten, Associate Professor of History
Oregon State University

Celebrating the African contribution to Mexican culture, this book shows how religious brotherhoods in New Spain both preserved a distinctive African identity and helped facilitate Afro-Mexican integration into colonial society. Called confraternities, these groups provided social connections, charity, and status for Africans and their descendants for over two centuries.

Often organized by African women and dedicated to popular European and African saints, the confraternities enjoyed prestige in the Baroque religious milieu of 17th-century New Spain. One group, founded by Africans called Zapes, preserved their ethnic identity for decades even after they were enslaved and brought to the Americas. Despite ongoing legal divisions and racial hierarchies, by the end of the colonial era many descendants from African slaves had achieved a degree of status that enabled them to move up the social ladder in Hispanic society. Von Germeten reveals details of the organization and practices of more than 60 Afro-Mexican brotherhoods and examines changes in the social, family, and religious lives of their members. She presents the stories of individual Africans and their descendants—including many African women and the famous Baroque artist Juan Correa—almost entirely from evidence they themselves generated. Moving the historical focus away from negative stereotypes that have persisted for almost 500 years, this study is the first in English to deal with Afro-Mexican religious organizations.

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Mestizaje and Globalization: Transformations of Identity and Power

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-04-06 00:28Z by Steven

Mestizaje and Globalization: Transformations of Identity and Power

University of Arizona Press
2014
264 pages
10 photos, 3 illlustrations, 5 tables
6.00 x 9.00
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8165-3090-8

Stefanie Wickstrom, Senior Lecturer of Political Science
Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington

Philip D. Young (1936-2013), Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
University of Oregon

The Spanish word mestizaje does not easily translate into English. Its meaning and significance have been debated for centuries since colonization by European powers began. Its simplest definition is “mixing.” As long as the term has been employed, norms and ideas about racial and cultural relations in the Americas have been imagined, imposed, questioned, rejected, and given new meaning.

Mestizaje and Globalization presents perspectives on the underlying transformation of identity and power associated with the term during times of great change in the Americas. The volume offers a comprehensive and empirically diverse collection of insights concerning mestizaje’s complex relationship with indigeneity, the politics of ethnic identity, transnational social movements, the aesthetic of cultural production, development policies, and capitalist globalization, with particular attention to cases in Latin America and the United States.

Beyond the narrow and often inadequate meaning of mestizaje as biological and racial mixing, the concept deserves an innovative theoretical consideration due to its multidimensional, multifaceted character and its resilience as an ideological construct. The contributors argue that historical analyses of mestizaje do not sufficiently understand contemporary ways that racism, ethnic discrimination, and social injustice intermingle with current discourse and practice of cultural recognition and multiculturalism in the Americas.

Mestizaje and Globalization contributes to an emerging multidisciplinary effort to explore how identities are imposed, negotiated, and reconstructed. The chapter authors clearly set forth the issues and obstacles that indigenous peoples and subjugated minorities face, as well as the strategies they have employed to gain empowerment in the face of globalization.

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Dismantling the Racial Paradise

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-31 18:42Z by Steven

Dismantling the Racial Paradise

Stanford University Press Blog
March 2015

Tiffany Joseph, Assistant Professor of Sociology; Affiliated Faculty of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

How migration to and from the U.S. is transforming notions of race in Brazil.

I still remember my first trip to Brazil—I was amazed by the diversity of physical features I saw among the population, a continuous range of skin tones between what Americans think of as “white” and “black.” Everyone seemed to get along well; residential segregation levels were low and interracial couples, families and friend groups appeared to be the norm. It would have been easy to believe that Brazil was a racial paradise compared to the United States. However, as I learned Portuguese and spent more time in the country, I came to realize that Brazil was a country of racial contradictions.

Despite having seemingly more “cordial” interpersonal relations, Brazil has struggled with rampant social inequality, especially between lighter and darker Brazilians. While Brazilians espoused the beauty of its multiracial population, I was perplexed every time I passed stands full of Brazilian magazines and saw a sea of fair-skinned faces with blonde hair and blue eyes upheld as the ideal image of beauty. As a black American, I began to notice commonalities between the pervasiveness of structural racism in Brazil and the U.S. while being keenly aware of the different racial ideologies that characterized each nation’s history.

Brazil was once considered the global model for burying racial hatchets and fostering social inclusiveness, while the U.S. has garnered a reputation for being an overtly racist country. As the two largest countries in the Americas, both indelibly impacted by long histories of structural racism, Brazil and the U.S. have been the focus of countless comparative studies on race. And though the number of people traveling and migrating between each country has increased significantly in the last few decades, there are few accounts of how these migrations facilitated movement of race between these countries…

Read the entire article here.

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Race on the Move: Brazilian Migrants and the Global Reconstruction of Race

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-31 17:26Z by Steven

Race on the Move: Brazilian Migrants and the Global Reconstruction of Race

Stanford University Press
February 2015
240 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780804792202
Paper ISBN: 9780804794350
Digital ISBN: 9780804794398

Tiffany D. Joseph, Assistant Professor of Sociology; Affiliated Faculty of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York

Race on the Move takes readers on a journey from Brazil to the United States and back again to consider how migration between the two countries is changing Brazilians’ understanding of race relations. Brazil once earned a global reputation as a racial paradise, and the United States is infamous for its overt social exclusion of nonwhites. Yet, given the growing Latino and multiracial populations in the United States, the use of quotas to address racial inequality in Brazil, and the flows of people between each country, contemporary race relations in each place are starting to resemble each other.

Tiffany Joseph interviewed residents of Governador Valadares, Brazil’s largest immigrant-sending city to the U.S., to ask how their immigrant experiences have transformed local racial understandings. Joseph identifies and examines a phenomenon—the transnational racial optic—through which migrants develop and ascribe social meaning to race in one country, incorporating conceptions of race from another. Analyzing the bi-directional exchange of racial ideals through the experiences of migrants, Race on the Move offers an innovative framework for understanding how race can be remade in immigrant-sending communities.

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Rivas awarded NEH Summer Stipends award to work on book

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-30 14:52Z by Steven

Rivas awarded NEH Summer Stipends award to work on book

News From Marshall University
Huntington, West Virginia
2015-03-25

Dave Wellman, Director of Communications
Telephone: (304) 696-7153

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.Dr. Zelideth Maria Rivas, an assistant professor of Japanese in Marshall University’s Department of Modern Languages, has been awarded a “very competitive” National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipends award, according to Dr. R.B. Bookwalter, dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts.

Rivas is the only recipient of the Summer Stipend award in West Virginia. The award will help her work toward completion of a book she has titled “Caught In-Between: Competing Nationalisms of Japanese in Brazil.”

“Dr. Rivas is an energetic and imaginative teacher and scholar,” Bookwalter said. “We are very fortunate to have her here at Marshall and we are extremely pleased that the NEH has recognized and supported her project.”

Rivas said, “I am honored that this award will support the completion of my book through travel to Japan and time to revise existing chapters. More importantly, I am excited for the recognition this brings to the Department of Modern Languages, the College of Liberal Arts and Marshall University.”

Here is her abstract for the project:

“From the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Hamamatsu, Japan, a large diasporic population of Japanese Brazilians is ever present in media, politics and the economy as symbols of kinship and citizenship with singular national identities. And yet, these identities move beyond dualistic constructions of Japanese or Brazilian. As an NEH Summer Stipend Fellow, I will investigate these claims in my book, Caught In-Between: Competing Nationalisms of Japanese in Brazil while completing the final research needed in Japan during the summer of 2015.

Read the entire press release here.

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Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2015-03-29 20:01Z by Steven

Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865

Liverpool University Press
May 2015
848 pages
234 x 156mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781781381847
Paperback ISBN: 9781781381854

Marlene L. Daut, Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies
Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) was an event of monumental world-historical significance, and here, in the first systematic literary history of those events, Haiti’s war of independence is examined through the eyes of its actual and imagined participants, observers, survivors, and cultural descendants. The ‘transatlantic print culture of the Haitian Revolution’ that this literary history shows was created by novelists, poets, dramatists, memoirists, biographers, historians, journalists, and eye-witness observers, revealing enlightenment racial ‘science’ as the primary vehicle through which the Haitian Revolution was interpreted, historicized, memorialized, and fictionalized by nineteenth-century Haitians, Europeans, and U.S. Americans alike.

Through its author’s contention that the Haitian revolutionary wars were incessantly racialized by four constantly recurring racial tropes—the ‘monstrous hybrid’, the ‘tropical temptress’, the ‘tragic mulatto/a’, and the ‘mulatto legend of history’, Tropics of Haiti shows the ways in which the nineteenth-century tendency to understand Haiti’s revolution in primarily racial terms has affected present day demonizations of Haiti and Haitians. In the end, this new archive of Haitian revolutionary writing, much of which has until now remained unknown to the contemporary reading public, invites us to examine how nineteenth-century attempts to paint Haitian independence as the result of a racial revolution coincides with present-day desires to render insignificant and ‘unthinkable’ the second independent republic of the New World.

CONTENTS

  • PRELUDE: On “Haitian Exceptionalism”
  • INTRODUCTION: From Enlightenment Literacy to Mulatto/a Vengeance
  • PART ONE: THE MONSTROUS HYBRIDITY OF MULATTO/A VENGEANCE
    • 1. Baron de Vastey, Colonial Discourse, and the Global “Scientific” Sphere
    • 2. Monstrous Testimony and Baron de Vastey in 19th-Century Historical Writing About Haiti
    • 3. Victor Hugo and the Rhetorical Possibilities of Monstrous Hybridity in Revolutionary Fiction
  • PART TWO: TRANSGRESSING THE TROPE OF THE TROPICAL TEMPTRESS
    • 4. Moreau de Saint-Méry’s Daughter and La Mulâtre comme il y a beaucoup de blanches (1803)
    • 5. “Born to Command:” Leonora Sansay and the Paradoxes of Female Resistance in Zelica; the Creole
    • 6. Theresa to the Rescue!: African American Women’s Resistance and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution
  • PART THREE: THE TROPE OF THE TRAGIC MULATTO/A AND THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION
    • 7. “Sons of White Fathers”: The Tragic Mulatto/a and the Haitian Revolution in Victor Séjour’s “Le Mulâtre”
    • 8. Between the Family and the Nation: Toussaint L’Ouverture and The Interracial Family Romance of the Haitian Revolution
    • 9. Romance and the Republic: Eméric Bergeaud’s Ideal History of the Haitian Revolution
  • PART FOUR: REQUIEM FOR THE “MULATTO LEGEND OF HISTORY”
    • 10. The Color of History: The Transatlantic Abolitionist Movement and William Wells Brown’s “Never-to-be-forgiven-course-of the-mulattoes”
    • 11. Victor Schoelcher, “L’Imagination Jaune,” and the Francophone Geneaology of the “Mulatto Legend of History”
    • 12. “Let us Be Humane after the Victory: Pierre Faubert’s New Humanism
  • CODA : Today’s Haitian Exceptionalism
  • Works Cited
  • Index
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The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada by Joanne Rappaport (review) [von Germeten]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2015-03-25 14:59Z by Steven

The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada by Joanne Rappaport (review) [von Germeten]

The Americas
Volume 72, Number 1, January 2015
pages 159-160

Nicole von Germeten, Associate Professor of History
Oregon State University

Rappaport, Joanne, The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014).

Joanne Rappaport argues that even in the seventeenth-century classic satire known as El Carnero, set in what is now Colombia, the main character avoids identification as a mestiza, demonstrating the disappearing elusiveness of this term. The fact that readers cannot be sure if Inés de Hinojosa’s mother was or was not an indigenous woman brings directly to life the point Rappaport explores throughout her book. Subjects of the Spanish crown living in the sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and even eighteenth-century New Kingdom of Granada avoided categorization as mestizo when it suited them, although they sometimes took on the label if it seemed expedient at a particular moment. Rappaport effectively proves that identification as mestizo, mulatto, or even the more basic categories of Spanish, Indian, and black, does not equate to a stable, genetic, or genealogical “race” in the modern sense of the word. These categories are beyond fluid or malleable, the common explanation for why one individual might receive several different “racial” identifications during their lifespan.

Rappaport suggests instead that, at least in the New Kingdom of Granada, terms such as mestizo and mulatto do not necessarily represent an easily definable or cohesive group of individuals. In other words, regardless of what a person might call him or herself, or “pass” as within the Spanish world, we cannot hope to ascertain their “real race” from such a limited term, within this particular historical context. The designation of mestizo especially represents nothing other than an allusion, because this category did not carry a specific legal status or set of privileges within Spanish law. Therefore, students and scholars who wish to understand personal identity and society in the Spanish American viceroyalties must set aside our modern obsession with race as a simple unchanging way to categorize human beings. In fact, calidad, a broad range of attributes including stage of life, gender, occupation, personal wealth, spousal choice, place of residence, domestic setting, literacy, speech patterns, and style of dress, may have held more weight than what we call “race.”

Rappoport supports these arguments with ethnographic explorations of several suggestive case studies, in a far more effective and readable style than would be provided by the tiresome citation of innumerable confusing examples, or even worse statistical analysis. At the end of the book, the reader actually remembers the individuals under discussion and feels a sense of knowing them as well as possible and understanding how their life experiences elucidate why mestizos represent a “disappearing” category. Rappaport’s analytical narratives include individuals sometimes classed as mestizos, but otherwise known as a duped doncella, a politically engaged cacique, an adulterous widow, a frustrated, blustering upwardly mobile Bogotá alderman, a man who just wants to stay with his family and friends in an indigenous village, and even the stereotypical abusive, rabble-rousing mulatto. Rappaport also takes a look at the physical descriptions contained in casa de la contratación travel documents, the early modern version of passport photos, expressed in standardized verbiage describing hair texture, skin tone, and most importantly, beards. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the most common color used to describe Spanish skin was brown [moreno].

This book corrects simplistic ideas about the timelessness of racial categorization, even including previous efforts to historicize the alleged “hardening” of race designations in the eighteenth century. Rappaport makes an excellent point that historians of other parts of Spanish America should not assume the sistema de castas applied beyond New Spain, although it is even doubtful that it works as an analytical framework there. Even if Bourbon reformers attempted to “harden” racial lines or put a “caste system” into effect, scholars who spend their time in archives already know the need to question the effectiveness of these efforts. This book offers an important contribution to the historiography of Spanish rule in the Americas, and might even challenge and complicate undergraduate thinking on race. Understanding the history of the Spanish viceroyalties demands mental flexibility, and this book does an essential job of exposing where, through lazy thinking, we still hold onto rigid, anachronistic interpretations…

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The Culture of Curls: What Hair Really Means in Mixed Race Societies

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, South Africa on 2015-03-16 02:13Z by Steven

The Culture of Curls: What Hair Really Means in Mixed Race Societies

The Yale Globalist
2013-12-24

Isidora Stankovic
Timothy Dwight College
Yale University

Look through any fashion magazine and you might notice something puzzling. Almost without exception, models of every race have the same sleek, straightened hair. The message from these media sources seems clear: these painstakingly smooth hairstyles are simply better. Women around the world have taken this message to heart and adopted straightened hair as a beauty ideal, but for some women, hair texture means something more. In societies with large mixed race populations, hair extends beyond beauty and becomes a factor that reveals ethnic heritage and even socioeconomic background. According to Professor Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University, “hair is a fashion statement as well as a statement of ethnicity.” Curls and kinky hair are loaded with stigma in many countries, in part because they represent the effects of historical interactions between different ethnic groups.

The legacy of European colonialism echoes strongly in Cuba, and has been influential in shaping race relations, social structure, and the identities of mixed-race individuals. Professor González Echevarría explains that Spaniards brought a relatively small number of African slaves to Cuba in the 16th century to replace the annihilated labor force. In the 19th century, the number of African slaves on the island grew as the country invested in the sugar industry. Interactions with white Europeans and black slaves created a significant mixed-race population, and the growth of this group has made it increasingly difficult to identify people as either black or white and produced a change in categorization of individuals. Thus, hair has become an important tool for labeling and social stratification. According to González Echevarría, “There are many gradations of mulatto in Cuba, and some are gauged by how kinky their hair is.” He adds that Cubans can be prejudiced against kinky hair, noting that to have kinky hair is to “tener pelo malo,” or “to have bad hair.” They may call the hair of black individuals “pasa,” and women of European origin even refer to their hair as “pasa” when they are having a bad hair day, often saying “tengo la pasa alborotada” (“I have messy/wild hair”)…

Read the entire article here.

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