Vale of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil, 1893-1897

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-11-20 04:28Z by Steven

Vale of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil, 1893-1897

University of California Press
December 1995
365 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780520203433

Robert M. Levine (1941-2003), Professor of History and Director of Latin American Studies
University of Miami

The massacre of Canudos In 1897 is a pivotal episode in Brazilian social history. Looking at the event through the eyes of the inhabitants, Levine challenges traditional interpretations and gives weight to the fact that most of the Canudenses were of mixed-raced descent and were thus perceived as opponents to progress and civilization.

In 1897 Brazilian military forces destroyed the millenarian settlement of Canudos, murdering as many as 35,000 pious rural folk who had taken refuge in the remote northeast backlands of Brazil. Fictionalized in Mario Vargas Llosa’s acclaimed novel, War at the End of the World, Canudos is a pivotal episode in Brazilian social history. When looked at through the eyes of the inhabitants of Canudos, however, this historical incident lends itself to a bold new interpretation which challenges the traditional polemics on the subject. While the Canudos movement has been consistently viewed either as a rebellion of crazed fanatics or as a model of proletarian resistance to oppression, Levine deftly demonstrates that it was, in fact, neither.

Vale of Tears probes the reasons for the Brazilian ambivalence toward its social history, giving much weight to the fact that most of the Canudenses were of mixed-race descent. They were perceived as opponents to progress and civilization and, by inference, to Brazil’s attempts to “whiten” itself. As a result there are major insights to be found here into Brazilians’ self-image over the past century.

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Review: Identity in Passing: RACE-ING and E-RACE-ING in American and African American History

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 01:19Z by Steven

Review: Identity in Passing: RACE-ING and E-RACE-ING in American and African American History

The Journal of African American History
Volume 101, No. 3, Summer 2016
pages 344-355
DOI: 10.5323/jafriamerhist.101.3.0344

Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History
Arizona State University, Tempe

Passing is a long-standing theme in American and African American history.1 Indeed, because identity has been an ever-present element in history, passing has been an ever-present element in history generally. Distinguishing between and among groups and categorizing individual members has again and again prompted questions about who is who, about what exactly distinguishes one from another, and about who belongs where. But passing is about more than contested and oft-disputed categories. When it reaches to lived-experience, passing is about self and society, about individual image and imagining, about self-image and self-imagining, about social image and social change. Passing is about the scope, source, substance, and control of individual identity.

Despite its centrality, identity appears in historical narratives typically as a given, or at least as taken for granted. Except for persons cast as “others,” group labels conveniently cover flawed lines of distinction. Our focus concentrates on identity only when it becomes contested, when uncertainty or ambiguity raise doubts; when identity becomes an issue of power, when such questions as “who…

Read or purchase the article here.

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We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 00:56Z by Steven

We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Oxford University Press
2014-12-01
224 Pages
32 illustrations
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780199978335

Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History
University of Pennsylvania

This colored Creole story offers a unique historical lens through which to understand the issues of migration, immigration, passing, identity, and color-forces that still shape American society today. We Are Who We Say We Are provides a detailed, nuanced account of shifting forms of racial identification within an extended familial network and constrained by law and social reality.

Author Mary Frances Berry, a well-known expert in the field, focuses on the complexity and malleability of racial meanings within the US over generations. Colored Creoles, similar to other immigrants and refugees, passed back and forth in the Atlantic world. Color was the cause and consequence for migration and identity, splitting the community between dark and light. Color could also split families. Louis Antoine Snaer, a free man of color and an officer in the Union Army who passed back and forth across the color line, had several brothers and sisters. Some chose to “pass” and some decided to remain “colored,” even though they too, could have passed. This rich global history, beginning in Europe–with episodes in Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana, and California–emphasizes the diversity of the Atlantic World experience.

Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter I: Becoming Colored Creole
  • Chapter II: Becoming Americans
  • Chapter III: Family Troubles
  • Chapter IV: Fighting for Democracy
  • Chapter V: Becoming “Negroes”
  • Chapter VI: Opportunity and Tragedy in Iberia Parish
  • Chapter VII: Mulattoes and Colored Creoles
  • Chapter VIII: Just Americans
  • Chapter IX: At Home or Away: We Are Who We Say We Are
  • Epilogue: Becoming “Black”
  • Notes
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Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2017-11-17 03:20Z by Steven

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

University of North Carolina Press
January 2018
432 pages
12 halftones, 4 figs., 3 charts, 4 tables, notes, index
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3443-2

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children of Uncertain Fortune reinterprets the evolution of British racial ideologies as a matter of negotiating family membership. Using wills, legal petitions, family correspondences, and inheritance lawsuits, Daniel Livesay is the first scholar to follow the hundreds of children born to white planters and Caribbean women of color who crossed the ocean for educational opportunities, professional apprenticeships, marriage prospects, or refuge from colonial prejudices.

The presence of these elite children of color in Britain pushed popular opinion in the British Atlantic world toward narrower conceptions of race and kinship. Members of Parliament, colonial assemblymen, merchant kings, and cultural arbiters–the very people who decided Britain’s colonial policies, debated abolition, passed marital laws, and arbitrated inheritance disputes–rubbed shoulders with these mixed-race Caribbean migrants in parlors and sitting rooms. Upper-class Britons also resented colonial transplants and coveted their inheritances; family intimacy gave way to racial exclusion. By the early nineteenth century, relatives had become strangers.

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Colouring the Caribbean: Race and the art of Agostino Brunias

Posted in Arts, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-17 03:08Z by Steven

Colouring the Caribbean: Race and the art of Agostino Brunias

Manchester University Press
December 2017
272 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-5261-2045-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-5261-2047-2

Mia L. Bagneris, Jesse Poesch Junior Professor of Art History
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Colouring the Caribbean offers the first comprehensive study of Agostino Brunias’s intriguing pictures of colonial West Indians of colour – so called ‘Red’ and ‘Black’ Caribs, dark-skinned Africans and Afro-Creoles, and people of mixed race – made for colonial officials and plantocratic elites during the late-eighteenth century. Although Brunias’s paintings have often been understood as straightforward documents of visual ethnography that functioned as field guides for reading race, this book investigates how the images both reflected and refracted ideas about race commonly held by eighteenth-century Britons, helping to construct racial categories while simultaneously exposing their constructedness and underscoring their contradictions. The book offers provocative new insights about Brunias’s work gleaned from a broad survey of his paintings, many of which are reproduced here for the first time.

Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Brunias’s tarred brush, or painting Indians black: race-ing the Carib divide
  • 2. Merry and contented slaves and other island myths: representing Africans and Afro-Creoles in the Anglxexo-American world
  • 3. Brown-skinned booty, or colonising Diana: mixed-race Venuses and Vixens as the fruits of imperial enterprise
  • 4. Can you find the white woman in this picture? Agostino Brunias’s ‘ladies’ of ambiguous race
  • Coda – Pushing Brunias’s buttons, or re-branding the plantocracy’s painter: the afterlife of Brunias’s imagery
  • Index
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Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs on 2017-11-17 02:36Z by Steven

Mandarin Brazil: Race, Representation, and Memory

Stanford University Press
August 2018
256 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781503605046
Paper ISBN: 9781503606012

Ana Paulina Lee, Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies
Columbia University, New York, New York

In Mandarin Brazil, Ana Paulina Lee explores the centrality of Chinese exclusion to the Brazilian nation-building project, tracing the role of cultural representation in producing racialized national categories. Lee considers depictions of Chineseness in Brazilian popular music, literature, and visual culture, as well as archival documents and Brazilian and Qing dynasty diplomatic correspondence about opening trade and immigration routes between Brazil and China. In so doing, she reveals how Asian racialization helped to shape Brazil’s image as a racial democracy.

Mandarin Brazil begins during the second half of the nineteenth century, during the transitional period when enslaved labor became unfree labor—an era when black slavery shifted to “yellow labor” and racial anxieties surged. Lee asks how colonial paradigms of racial labor became a part of Brazil’s nation-building project, which prioritized “whitening,” a fundamentally white supremacist ideology that intertwined the colonial racial caste system with new immigration labor schemes. By considering why Chinese laborers were excluded from Brazilian nation-building efforts while Japanese migrants were welcomed, Lee interrogates how Chinese and Japanese imperial ambitions and Asian ethnic supremacy reinforced Brazil’s whitening project. Mandarin Brazil contributes to a new conversation in Latin American and Asian American cultural studies, one that considers Asian diasporic histories and racial formation across the Americas.

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Jennifer Roth-Gordon on her new book, Race and the Brazilian Body

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews on 2017-11-13 00:52Z by Steven

Jennifer Roth-Gordon on her new book, Race and the Brazilian Body

CaMP Anthropology
2017-09-04

Interview by: Ilana Gershon, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Indiana University, Bloomington

Jennifer Roth-Gordon, Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

If you were at a wedding, and the person at your table happened to be a scholar of African-American experiences of the Jim Crow South who wanted to know a bit about your book, what would you say?

Can the person sitting next to the Jim Crow scholar at our table be someone who witnessed the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville? I think I might open by saying to them that I study race relations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a context which is both very similar and very different from the ones that they are immersed in. My book is an investigation into how we can watch people draw on and perpetuate racial hierarchy in daily conversations and interactions, in a national context where noticing racial difference is (and has long been) taboo. These racial ideas – about the superiority of whiteness and the inferiority of blackness – are the same ideas that were legalized in the Jim Crow South and that white people marched to uphold just a few weeks ago, in defense of statues meant to keep nonwhite people “in their place.” I can point to very little that changes, over time or across national boundaries, in the civilized/uncivilized and upstanding/dangerous distinctions between what whiteness and nonwhiteness are thought to represent.

Brazil also suffers from incredibly high levels of structural racism that almost always exceed statistics from the present-day U.S. (from racial gaps in education levels, income, and where people live, to what scholars have called a black genocide of thousands of Afro-descended youth killed by police each year). Despite these national similarities, Brazil has long used incidents like Charlottesville (such as the Civil War, lynchings, the LA riots and Rodney King beating, Ferguson, and so on) to define themselves in contrast to the violent history and aggressive nature of race relations in the U.S. Though they are now more aware of racism than ever before, many Brazilians continue to take pride in their reputation for racial mixture and racial tolerance. While most would admit that Brazil is not (and has never been) a “racial democracy,” there is a strong belief that inequality in Brazil is socioeconomic, rather than racial.

My book seeks to explain the “comfortable racial contradiction” that surrounds Rio residents with signs of blackness and whiteness but discourages them from describing what they see in racial terms. It’s not a contradiction that is “comfortable” for all, but I argue that this contradiction is surprisingly easy to live within, even as it may be hard to unravel and explain – in the same way that we now have to contemplate what it means to live in a “colorblind” America that has people on both ends of the political spectrum loudly proclaiming that race matters. I study how racial ideology allows us to live in societies that promote themselves as tolerant and equal, even as we are daily surrounded by (and participating in) profoundly racially unequal and unjust circumstances. Laws and torches are not the only ways to maintain white supremacy, and swastika-flag bearers are not the only ones who keep systems of racial hierarchy in place…

Read the entire interview here.

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Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-11-12 23:03Z by Steven

Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness, and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro

University of North Carolina Press
December 2016
248 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520293793
Paperback ISBN: 9780520293809
Adobe PDF E-Book ISBN: 9780520967151
ePUB Format ISBN: 9780520967151

Jennifer Roth-Gordon, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Arizona

Based on spontaneous conversations of shantytown youth hanging out on the streets of their neighborhoods and interviews from the comfortable living rooms of the middle class, Jennifer Roth-Gordon shows how racial ideas permeate the daily lives of Rio de Janeiro’s residents across race and class lines. Race and the Brazilian Body weaves together the experiences of these two groups to explore what the author calls Brazil’s “comfortable racial contradiction,” where embedded structural racism that privileges whiteness exists alongside a deeply held pride in the country’s history of racial mixture and lack of overt racial conflict. This linguistic and ethnographic account describes how cariocas (people who live in Rio de Janeiro) “read” the body for racial signs. The amount of whiteness or blackness a body displays is determined not only through observations of phenotypical features—including skin color, hair texture, and facial features—but also through careful attention paid to cultural and linguistic practices, including the use of nonstandard speech commonly described as gíria (slang).

Vivid scenes from daily interactions illustrate how implicit social and racial imperatives encourage individuals to invest in and display whiteness (by demonstrating a “good appearance”), avoid blackness (a preference challenged by rappers and hip-hop fans), and “be cordial” (by not noticing racial differences). Roth-Gordon suggests that it is through this unspoken racial etiquette that Rio residents determine who belongs on the world famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon; who deserves to shop in privatized, carefully guarded, air conditioned shopping malls; and who merits the rights of citizenship.

Contents

  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  • 1. BRAZIL’S “COMFORTABLE RACIAL CONTRADICTION”
  • 2. “GOOD” APPEARANCES: RACE, LANGUAGE, AND CITIZENSHIP
  • 3. INVESTING IN WHITENESS: MIDDLE-CLASS PRACTICES OF LINGUISTIC DISCIPLINE
  • 4. FEARS OF RACIAL CONTACT: CRIME, VIOLENCE, AND THE STRUGGLE OVER URBAN SPACE
  • 5. AVOIDING BLACKNESS: THE FLIP SIDE OF BOA APARENCIA
  • 6. MAKING THE MANO: THE UNCOMFORTABLE VISIBILITY OF BLACKNESS IN POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS BRAZILIAN HIP-HOP
  • CONCLUSION: “SEEING” RACE
  • NOTES
  • REFERENCES
  • INDEX
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On the Color of Desire, Disrespect, and Sexual Exploitation in Brazil

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2017-11-12 17:35Z by Steven

On the Color of Desire, Disrespect, and Sexual Exploitation in Brazil

For Harriet
2015-07-23

Veronica Maria Brown-Comegys

The day I arrived in Rio de Janeiro a muscle-bound German stranger followed me from the reception desk into the hotel elevator. After the door closed, he began shouting in halting English, “You are American. I want to be with you tonight, why not?” “Why not?” I side-stepped to the elevator panel and wildly pounded the buttons. The door opened and I raced to my room.

White Brazilian and European male visitors gravitate to the eroticism of the woman of African descent. Yet they do not express their admiration in romantic sonnets and songs. Instead, white Brazilian men say in Portuguese, “As negras tem fogo no rabo.” The translation is, “Black women have fire in their ass,” according to my white friend, Carlos Marques, a fifty-six-year-old activist and historian. The activist, of Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul, said, “Rabo is a VERY bad expression, extremely graphic. It is machismo and racism.” Cesar Renato, 19, a black aspiring rapper, in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, added, “They say worse things than that.”

Carlos Santos, 30, of Goias, a black decorator and house painter said, “It is true that the white man says the black woman has an appetite for sex, and is hotter than the white woman. I agree that black women are hotter. This is obvious. But, oh no, to say they have fire under their skirt, this is too much. This is hyper-sexualization of the black woman.”

The crude expression is directed at all black women. Yet it is the black woman who has tan, gold, caramel and light-to-nearly medium colored skin, who is preferred. Marques said, “Light-colored girls are a species of sexual fantasy for many men, Brazilian and foreign. They are something like a sexual fetish.”.

Dr. Norma Cavalcanti, a white psychologist, said “In Brazil a woman has only two rights; the right to be a mother, and the right to be a ‘boneca gloriosa’ (glorious doll).” Willing or not, I had all the necessary attributes to play this role: light brown skin, heavy-lidded, big brown eyes, full lips, and most importantly a five foot seven-inch body, which was far from thin and shapeless. Far from being a brown Playboy centerfold, but not to be ignored…

…During the 2014 World Cup Season male and female journalists were distained “international gringos who come to Brazil with the wrong idea.” Carol Apaloo, an African-American school teacher, whose family relocated from Los Angeles in the late 1970s said, “The Germans are the worst.” She discussed the lewd way they were dancing with the black Brazilian girls at Carnival. One journalist said that the foreigners are only part of the problem. Their behavior matched customary treatment black women receive from white Brazilian men.

Marly Ferreira, 57, a black Brazilian writer and Professor of Biology said, “The image still exists of the black woman as sexy, good in bed, to be used as an object. This image is a benefit to tourism. There are many schemes to make the color black agreeable, to be used by everybody.” More than two decades ago, white historian, sociologist and anthropologist Gilberto Freyre said, “The mulata is treated like a product. Our mulata is not different from other women, but she is being exploited as a sex symbol, and the majority are being turned into prostitutes.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘The Inscrutable Alexander Fitten’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-11-08 03:12Z by Steven

‘The Inscrutable Alexander Fitten’

The Atlanta Journal Constitution
2017-11-03

Marc Fitten

An excerpt from ‘We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America.’ By Marc Fitten

My full legal name is Marc Jeffrie Fitten, but I have always disliked it. It’s like the skin tag hanging from my neck that I keep promising myself I will do something about.

Since I was 6, I have never been comfortable with hearing it spoken or saying it out loud. I have never identified with it. Ever since I was a child, everything in my DNA rejected this name. Probably because I instinctively knew it was a fake.

My real name is lost to my family and me. Lost for many reasons, but especially because along the way an ancestor realized his name gave away an ethnicity that was more trouble than it was worth. So he changed it. Twice. A shoemaker and a migrant who traveled around the Caribbean taking odd jobs, my half-Chinese great grandfather managed to hide his identity from the people around him and from his descendants for 100 years…


Marc Fitten looks at a recently discovered photo of his great grandfather, who Marc learned was part Chinese after his 2-year-old nephew was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, an illness prone to Asians. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

…The twist is intriguing as well. While mixed-race African-Americans were passing as white in the United States, in the Caribbean, a Chinese Jamaican wanted to hide his name and ethnicity and for his children to pass as colored.

My great-grandfather — forever after known as Mr. Fitten — even had the good sense to die early, and so he took his secrets with him…

Read the entire article here.

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