Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy on 2015-04-16 19:29Z by Steven

Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Harvard University Press
February 2014
240 pages
4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674724914

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Law and Philosophy
New York University

W. E. B. Du Bois never felt so at home as when he was a student at the University of Berlin. But Du Bois was also American to his core, scarred but not crippled by the racial humiliations of his homeland. In Lines of Descent, Kwame Anthony Appiah traces the twin lineages of Du Bois’ American experience and German apprenticeship, showing how they shaped the great African-American scholar’s ideas of race and social identity.

At Harvard, Du Bois studied with such luminaries as William James and George Santayana, scholars whose contributions were largely intellectual. But arriving in Berlin in 1892, Du Bois came under the tutelage of academics who were also public men. The economist Adolf Wagner had been an advisor to Otto von Bismarck. Heinrich von Treitschke, the historian, served in the Reichstag, and the economist Gustav von Schmoller was a member of the Prussian state council. These scholars united the rigorous study of history with political activism and represented a model of real-world engagement that would strongly influence Du Bois in the years to come.

With its romantic notions of human brotherhood and self-realization, German culture held a potent allure for Du Bois. Germany, he said, was the first place white people had treated him as an equal. But the prevalence of anti-Semitism allowed Du Bois no illusions that the Kaiserreich was free of racism. His challenge, says Appiah, was to take the best of German intellectual life without its parochialism—to steal the fire without getting burned.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Awakening
  • 2. Culture and Cosmopolitanism
  • 3. The Concept of the Negro
  • 4. The Mystic Spell
  • 5. The One and the Many
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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The Trouble With Race

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, South Africa, United States on 2015-04-13 00:38Z by Steven

The Trouble With Race

Foreign Affairs
March/April 2015

Gideon Rose, Editor

Everybody knows that racial tensions have been at the center of American political debate in recent months, but the story of racial and ethnic division is actually a global one, with a long and tortured history. For the lead package in the March/April issue, therefore, we decided to do a deep dive into racial issues in comparative and historical perspective.

Kwame Anthony Appiah kicks it off with a sweeping review of the rise and fall of race as a concept, tracing how late-nineteenth-century scientists and intellectuals built up the idea that races were biologically determined and politically significant, only to have their late-twentieth-century counterparts tear it down. Unfortunately, he concludes, recognizing that racial categories are socially constructed rather than innate doesn’t make racial problems easier to solve.

Fredrick Harris and Robert Lieberman explore the paradox of a United States in which stark racial inequalities persist even as official and individual-level racism have dramatically declined: a country that might be postracist but is hardly postracial. They point to the influence of historical legacies that baked the racism of previous eras into the cake of contemporary institutions and practices, from housing to finance to criminal justice…

Read the entire article here.

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How Europeans evolved white skin

Posted in Articles, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-04-06 01:26Z by Steven

How Europeans evolved white skin

Science
2015-04-02
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2435

Ann Gibbons, Contributing Correspondent

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI—Most of us think of Europe as the ancestral home of white people. But a new study shows that pale skin, as well as other traits such as tallness and the ability to digest milk as adults, arrived in most of the continent relatively recently. The work, presented here last week at the 84th annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, offers dramatic evidence of recent evolution in Europe and shows that most modern Europeans don’t look much like those of 8000 years ago.

The origins of Europeans have come into sharp focus in the past year as researchers have sequenced the genomes of ancient populations, rather than only a few individuals. By comparing key parts of the DNA across the genomes of 83 ancient individuals from archaeological sites throughout Europe, the international team of researchers reported earlier this year that Europeans today are a mix of the blending of at least three ancient populations of hunter-gatherers and farmers who moved into Europe in separate migrations over the past 8000 years. The study revealed that a massive migration of Yamnaya herders from the steppes north of the Black Sea may have brought Indo-European languages to Europe about 4500 years ago.

Now, a new study from the same team drills down further into that remarkable data to search for genes that were under strong natural selection—including traits so favorable that they spread rapidly throughout Europe in the past 8000 years. By comparing the ancient European genomes with those of recent ones from the 1000 Genomes Project, population geneticist Iain Mathieson, a postdoc in the Harvard University lab of population geneticist David Reich, found five genes associated with changes in diet and skin pigmentation that underwent strong natural selection…

Read the entire article here.

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Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times

Posted in Arts, Biography, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, United States on 2015-03-30 00:11Z by Steven

Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times

Canisius College, Buffalo, New York
2015-03-04

Buffalo, NY – Canisius College will exhibit “Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times” from Tuesday, March 24 – Sunday, April 12. The exhibit will be on display in Alumni Hall, located between the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library and Old Main. It is free and open to the public.

Founded by the Initiative of Black People in Germany, “Homeland Deutschland” is a collective self-portrait that gives voice to the complex and varied histories of Afro-German women and men from the past three centuries of German history. The exhibit features not only the biographies of prominent black figures but also those of unknown “ordinary” people who found themselves characterized by stereotypical racist perceptions and struggled to be acknowledged and respected in German society. The individuals represented in the exhibit come from diverse paths of German society and from distinguished backgrounds.

The “Homestory Deutschland” exhibit originated in Berlin, Germany. In February, the exhibit was acquired by Canisius College from where it will tour the United States…

For more information, click here.

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Lives of Afro-German men and women are focus of Canisius College exhibit

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Europe, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-29 19:14Z by Steven

Lives of Afro-German men and women are focus of Canisius College exhibit

The Buffalo News
Buffalo, New York
2015-03-12

An exhibit that provides a look at the lives of Afro-German men and women living in Germany during the past three centuries will open March 24 in Alumni Hall, between the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library and Old Main at Canisius College.

Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and Present Times” features prominent Germans of mixed African and German ancestry as well as ordinary people struggling against racial stereotypes.

The exhibit, which originated in Berlin, continues through April 12. Canisius acquired the exhibit in February and will send it on tour in the U.S. It is free and open to the public.

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‘Kiss me, I’m Irish’ took on a new meaning when DNA proved that I was

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-03-17 14:57Z by Steven

‘Kiss me, I’m Irish’ took on a new meaning when DNA proved that I was

The Guardian
2015-03-17

Michael W. Twitty

New tests confirmed what my family had long known: our ancestors were children of their Irish-American slaveholders

Like many African Americans, I was excited by the possibility of using DNA tests to learn about my cultural roots before they were severed by centuries of slavery, obfuscation and the destruction of records. Today, I’m proud to say that multiple tests have confirmed my roots among ethnic groups living Ghana, Sierra Leone and other countries in West and Central Africa.

But the tests also confirmed the legacy of slavery in quite another way: my family, like most black American families, has not one but several white ancestors – men who took advantage of their access to young enslaved women and, in the process, increased the number of human beings they called property.

“Kiss Me, I’m Irish” took on a whole new meaning for me, when I discovered that I was…

Read the entire article here.

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Mary Seacole – International Woman

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2015-03-08 20:09Z by Steven

Mary Seacole – International Woman

The Huffington Post, United Kingdom
2015-03-04

Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing
University of West London

Later this year a memorial statue to Mary Seacole will be unveiled in the gardens of St Thomas’ hospital, overlooking the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament. Sir Hugh Taylor, Chairman of Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Mary Seacole was a pathfinder for the generations of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who have served the NHS over the years and she remains a positive role model for the current generation. The Trust is proud to be hosting the statue, not least because it speaks to the diversity of our local population, our patients and the staff who work here.”

It was 160 years ago that Mary first set foot in the Crimea to feed and nurse British soldiers and she stayed there for the remaining 18 months of the conflict. Sir William Howard Russell, The Times newspaper’s Crimean War correspondent praised her efforts. In 1857 he wrote “I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.” He would have been sad to see that Mary was virtually forgotten for a century following her death in London on 14 May 1881. This was despite an obituary appearing in the pages of The Times!…

Read the entire article here.

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The Next Great Migration

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-06 02:01Z by Steven

The Next Great Migration

The New York Times
2015-03-01

Thomas Chatterton Williams

PARIS — AT dinner last summer with my brother-in-law, a grandson of Jews who fled Algeria for France, the conversation turned to the rash of anti-Semitic incidents plaguing the country. At such times, the question inevitably arises in the minds of many Jews: “Where could we go?” He mentioned Tel Aviv, London and New York, but the location mattered less than the reassurance that departure remained an option. He’s not alone in this thinking: 7,000 French Jews emigrated in 2014.

Over the past year, as I watched with outrage at the dizzying spate of unpunished extrajudicial police killings of black men and women across America, I’ve wondered why more black Americans don’t think similarly. Why shouldn’t more of us weigh expatriation, even if only temporary, as a viable means of securing those lofty yet elusive ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Blacks leaving America in search of equality is not new. The practice dates from at least antebellum Louisiana, when free mulattoes in New Orleans sent their children to France to live in accordance with their means and not their color. It continued after World War II, when a number of black G.I.s, artists and jazzmen shared Richard Wright’s sentiment that there is “more freedom in one square block of Paris than there is in the entire United States of America.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Zélie Asava: mixed-race identities and representation in Irish, U.S. and French cinemas

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-01 03:50Z by Steven

Zélie Asava: mixed-race identities and representation in Irish, U.S. and French cinemas

African Women in Cinema Blog
2015-02-28

Beti Ellerson, Director
Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema

Interview with Zélie Asava by Beti Ellerson, February 2015.

Zélie Asava of Irish-Kenyan parentage with English citizenship, is a lecturer in film and media theory and national cinemas at Dundalk IT and University College Dublin. She explores mixed-raced identities and its representation in Irish, U.S. and French cinemas.

Zélie could you talk a bit about yourself?

I was born in Dublin to Irish and Kenyan parents. Having lived in London previously, they decided to raise me there. As an adult I moved back to Ireland, to go home and develop my career in academia. While, Dublin is a fascinating city with a great cultural scene, I found the experience much more troubling than anticipated due to the growth in racism during the economic boom of the late ‘90s/early 2000s (see my piece for The Evening Herald newspaper).

As an undergraduate, I became involved in student anti-racism movements at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, and worked with community groups. During my MA at the University of Sussex and PhD at University College Dublin I studied the representations of black and mixed-race characters in French and American cinema, while pursuing work as an actress and journalist. In my professional life I have also worked in politics and equal opportunities consultancy, and lived in Canada and France, before becoming a lecturer.

How has your identity influenced your interest in racial representations?

This personal and academic experience prompted me to explore what it meant to be black and Irish from a theoretical and social perspective. I studied the history of black and mixed-race people in Ireland and their representation onscreen, and began to develop research papers on the subject which finally became the book, The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black and Mixed-Race Identities on Irish Film and Television (Peter Lang, 2013).

Due to the cinematic context of my research, the mixed characters I analyse are mostly of African/European heritage, mostly female and mostly heterosexual (following dominant representations). By uncovering, deconstructing and critiquing these representations my work contributes to opening up spaces for new filmmakers, new screen visualizations of raced characters and new understandings of race and racism…

Read the entire interview here.

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In France, a Baby Switch and a Test of a Mother’s Love

Posted in Articles, Europe, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2015-02-24 22:48Z by Steven

In France, a Baby Switch and a Test of a Mother’s Love

The New York Times
2015-02-24

Maïa de la Baume

GRASSE, France — When Sophie Serrano finally held her daughter, Manon, in her arms after the newborn, suffering from jaundice, had been placed under artificial light, she was taken aback by the baby’s thick tufts of hair.

“I hadn’t noticed it before and it surprised me,” Ms. Serrano said in an interview at her home here in southern France, not far from the Côte d’Azur.

Ms. Serrano, now 39, was baffled again a year later, when she noticed that her baby’s hair had grown frizzy and that her skin color was darker than hers or her partner’s.

But her love for the child trumped any doubts. Even as her relationship unraveled, in part, she said, over her partner’s suspicions, she painstakingly looked after the baby until a paternity test more than 10 years later showed that neither she nor her partner were Manon’s biological parents. Ms. Serrano later found out that a nurse had accidentally switched babies and given them to the wrong mothers…

…Ms. Serrano’s love for Manon, she said, grew stronger after she learned that the girl was not her biological daughter. She also said that, after meeting the girl she had given birth to, she felt no particular connection with her.

“It is not the blood that makes a family,” Ms. Serrano said. “What makes a family is what we build together, what we tell each other. And I have created a wonderful bond with my nonbiological daughter.”…

Read the entire article here.

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