The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2016-04-30 20:50Z by Steven

The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan

University of Chicago Press
2016
264 pages
8 color plates, 49 halftones
6 x 9

Gísli Pálsson, Professor of Anthropology
University of Iceland

The island nation of Iceland is known for many things—majestic landscapes, volcanic eruptions, distinctive seafood—but racial diversity is not one of them. So the little-known story of Hans Jonathan, a free black man who lived and raised a family in early nineteenth-century Iceland, is improbable and compelling, the stuff of novels.

In The Man Who Stole Himself, Gisli Palsson lays out Jonathan’s story in stunning detail. Born into slavery in St. Croix in 1784, Jonathan was brought as a slave to Denmark, where he eventually enlisted in the navy and fought on behalf of the country in the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen. After the war, he declared himself a free man, believing that not only was he due freedom because of his patriotic service, but because while slavery remained legal in the colonies, it was outlawed in Denmark itself. Jonathan was the subject of one of the most notorious slavery cases in European history, which he lost. Then, he ran away—never to be heard from in Denmark again, his fate unknown for more than two hundred years. It’s now known that Jonathan fled to Iceland, where he became a merchant and peasant farmer, married, and raised two children. Today, he has become something of an Icelandic icon, claimed as a proud and daring ancestor both there and among his descendants in America.

The Man Who Stole Himself brilliantly intertwines Jonathan’s adventurous travels with a portrait of the Danish slave trade, legal arguments over slavery, and the state of nineteenth-century race relations in the Northern Atlantic world. Throughout the book, Palsson traces themes of imperial dreams, colonialism, human rights, and globalization, which all come together in the life of a single, remarkable man. Jonathan literally led a life like no other. His is the story of a man who had the temerity—the courage—to steal himself.

Contents

  • Prologue: A Man of Many Worlds
  • I. The Island of St. Croix
    • “A House Negro”
    • “The Mulatto Hans Jonathan”
    • “Said to Be the Secretary”
    • Among the Sugar Barons
  • II. Copenhagen
    • A Child near the Royal Palace
    • “He Wanted to Go to War”
    • The General’s Widow v. the Mulatto
    • The Verdict
  • III. Iceland
    • A Free Man
    • Mountain Guide
    • Factor, Farmer, Father
    • Farewell
  • IV. Descendants
    • The Jonathan Family
    • The Eirikssons of New England
    • Who Stole Whom?
    • The Lessons of History
  • Epilogue: Biographies
  • Timeline
  • Acknowledgments
  • Photo Catalog
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Made Black

Posted in Arts, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, United States on 2016-04-28 18:07Z by Steven

Made Black

Jersey City Theater Center
Merseles Studios
339 Newark Avenue, 2nd Floor
Jersey City, New Jersey
Saturday, 2016-05-07 20:00-23:00 EDT (Local Time)

JCTC New Play Reading presents Schwarz Gemacht (Made Black) a cutting-edge, controversial play exploring race and identity through one of the most overlooked subcultures of the 20th century – mixed-race black German citizens during the 1930’s. This uniquely provocative work by Alexander Thomas, is on research and true stories of the people caught between two worlds in one of the most racially conflicted eras in history. Schwarz Gemacht (Made Black) premiered in Berlin at the English Theater of Berlin last year, then at the 2015 New Black Fest at The Lark, receiving a rave Playbill review by Olivia Clement: “Set in 1938 in Berlin, the play is centered on an Afro-German actor and his encounter with an African-American musician and activist that leads to questions about identity and the treatment of people of color both in Germany and in the United States.”

For more information, click here.

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New Generation Thinkers: The Moor of Florence – A Medici Mystery

Posted in Audio, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2016-04-23 20:50Z by Steven

New Generation Thinkers: The Moor of Florence – A Medici Mystery

Free Thinking
BBC Radio 3
2015-11-09

2015 Festival, The Free Thinking Essay

For over 400 years it’s been claimed that the first Medici Duke of Florence was mixed race, his mother a slave of African descent. Catherine Fletcher of Swansea University asks if this extraordinary story about the 16th-century Italian political dynasty could be true. Or do the tales of Alessandro de’ Medici tell us more about the history of racism and anti-racism than about the man himself?

The New Generation Thinkers are the winners of an annual scheme run by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find academics at the start of their careers who can turn their research into fascinating broadcasts.

The Essay was recorded in front of an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead. If you want to hear Catherine Fletcher discussing her research you can download the Essay and conversation as an Arts and Ideas podcast.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Listen to the lecture (00:14:40) here.

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The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, Monographs on 2016-04-22 01:35Z by Steven

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Oxford University Press
2016-09-01
336 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780190612726

Catherine Fletcher, Historian, Author, AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2015

  • The first-ever biography of Alessandro de’ Medici, arguably the first black head of state
  • Draws on extensive archival research of first-hand sources
  • An accessible and dramatic retelling of Renaissance politics and rivalry

Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de’ Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world. Born out of wedlock to a dark-skinned maid and Lorenzo de’ Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When Alessandro’s noble father died of syphilis, the family looked to him. Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage. By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance.

Alessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence’s oligarchs, who called him a womanizer-which he undoubtedly was—and a tyrant. Yet this real-life counterpart to Machiavelli’s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age of 26 during a late-night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins. After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic. For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of Florence.

Catherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro’s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries-old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top. Drawing on new research and first-hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today.

Table of Contents

  • Family tree
  • Glossary of names
  • Timeline
  • Maps
  • A note on money
  • Prologue
  • Book One: The Bastard Son
  • Book Two: The Obedient Nephew
  • Book Three: The Prince Alone
  • Afterword: Alessandro’s Ethnicity
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Index
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Perception and the Mulatto Body in Inquisitorial Spain: A Neurohistory*

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2016-04-18 01:51Z by Steven

Perception and the Mulatto Body in Inquisitorial Spain: A Neurohistory*

Past and Present
First published online: 2016-04-16
DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtw001

Cristian Berco, Associate Professor of History
Bishop’s University, Quebec

On 1 July 1625, their hands issuing from Dominican cloaks as black as night, inquisitors in Madrid voted to arrest Luisa Nuñez on suspicion of practising love magic and divination using a stolen altar stone. It fell to the inquisitorial secretary Gaspar Isidro de Argüello to lead the arrest. Since witnesses had provided no physical description of the suspect, all Argüello had to go by was a name and address. Despite this lack of information, on Luisa’s opening the door Argüello rapidly assessed her and labelled her with a racializing term plucked out of the air: ‘mulatta’. However, this categorization was problematic. Luisa would never refer to herself in this way, either in testimony or in the formal life narrative she would recount before the inquisitors. According to her, she was the American-born daughter of a Spanish notary and a Mexican Indian woman, and was now a citizen of Madrid and wife to a Galician courier.

While the label ‘mulatta’ embodied ambiguous meanings typical of the era (it could refer to either skin colour or category of being), its application was important. Not only did the word conjure up a negative stereotype particularly detrimental to a suspected sorceress, but the label continued to define Luisa as a racialized being long after her death. Even the modern catalogue containing her trial specifically uses the term in its one-line summary. In a way, the increasing tendency of early modern Europeans to connect the phenotype of colonized and enslaved peoples with inherent negative characteristics not only victimized Luisa but also reflected the long-term emergence of race as an ontological category. However, because such identity categories define our world-view today, to the point where we deploy them automatically, we tend to think of the cognitive process behind racialization as…

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Toward building a conceptual framework on intermarriage

Posted in Articles, Canada, Europe, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2016-04-10 02:38Z by Steven

Toward building a conceptual framework on intermarriage

Ethnicities
Published online before print 2016-03-17
DOI: 10.1177/1468796816638402

Sayaka Osanami Törngren
Malmö University, Sweden; Sophia University, Japan

Nahikari Irastorza, Marie Curie Research Fellow
Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity, and Welfare
Malmö University, Sweden

Miri Song, Professor of Sociology
University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom

Increasing migration worldwide and the cultural diversity generated as a consequence of international migration has facilitated the unions of people from different countries, religions, races, and ethnicities. Such unions are often celebrated as a sign of integration; however, at the same time as they challenge people’s idea of us and them, intermarriages in fact still remain controversial, and even to some extent, taboo in many societies. Research and theorizing on intermarriage is conducted predominantly in the English-speaking North American and British contexts. This special issue includes empirical studies from not only the English-speaking countries such as the U.S., Canada, and the UK, but also from Japan, Sweden, Belgium, France, and Spain and demonstrate the increasingly diverse directions taken in the study of intermarriage in regards to the patterns, experiences, and social implications of intermarriages. Moreover, the articles address the assumed link between intermarriage and “integration.”

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Meet Yosif Stalin, The Soviet-Born Black American From Kremlin, Virginia

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-04-10 02:06Z by Steven

Meet Yosif Stalin, The Soviet-Born Black American From Kremlin, Virginia

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
2016-04-08

Carl Schrek

KREMLIN, Virginia — Yosif Stalin stood before his Kremlin home on a windswept afternoon this spring, his weathered hands gripping his walker. “I still own it,” he said of the white, two-story house off a lonely country road.

It’s no coincidence that this octogenarian was named after one of the 20th century’s bloodiest dictators, but it’s just half of his name. His full name is Yosif Stalin Kim Roane, and he was the first child of African-American parents ever born in the Soviet Union.

“Didn’t nobody pay that no mind,” Roane said of his notorious namesake in a recent interview with RFE/RL. “They mostly called me Joe.”

Roane, 84, is among the few living offspring of African-Americans who traveled to the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s to seek a better life in the nascent communist state.

Most of these voyagers were driven by political convictions or economic hardship amid the Great Depression and pernicious racism in the United States, including the segregationist Jim Crow laws of the American South.

That Roane was born in an empire run from the Kremlin and grew up in this tiny Virginia hamlet of the same name is a coincidence that inspired the title of a recent documentary, Kremlin To Kremlin, aimed at preserving the record of his family’s remarkable journey for future generations…

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Fear of Small Numbers: «Brown Babies» in Postwar Italy

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Women on 2016-04-01 03:06Z by Steven

Fear of Small Numbers: «Brown Babies» in Postwar Italy

Contemporanea
Volume XVIII, Number 4, October-December 2015
pages 537-568
DOI: 10.1409/81438

Silvana Patriarca, Professor of History
Fordham University: The Jesuit University of New York

By drawing in an interdisciplinary fashion on a variety of different sources (some of them archives only recently made available to the public), the essay examines the way children of Italian women and non-white Allied soldiers born in Italy during WWII and in its immediate aftermath were racialized and treated in the postwar years. It shows significant continuities between pre- and postwar ideas about race and «racial hybrids» in various segments of the Italian population and argues that these children were considered a «problem» in spite of their small numbers (rather as happened in Germany and Great Britain in the same years). Because of their origin in «illegitimate» relations, either consensual or forced, and because of the color of their skin, they often encountered hostility and contempt and were seen as not really belonging in the national community even though they were almost always Italian citizens in virtue of ius soli. The Italian case, however, has its own specificity, namely the extent to which prominent figures of the Catholic world, at times former supporters of fascism, were involved in trying to «solve» this socalled «problem». The vicissitudes of these children show the need to further investigate the history of racism in the Italian democratic Republic.

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Professor Silvana Patriarca’s Research on Race and Nation in Post World War II Italy

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-01 02:52Z by Steven

Professor Silvana Patriarca’s Research on Race and Nation in Post World War II Italy

History at Fordham University
Fordham University: The Jesuit University of New York
2016-03-31

Aurora Pfefferkorn


Dr. Silvana Patriarca

Professor Silvana Patriarca is a faculty member in the Fordham University History department and specializes in modern Italian history. She is currently exploring the interaction between ideas of nation and “race” and working on a book about the history of racism in post-World War II Italy. Her new book will focus on “mixed-race” children born in Italy during the Allied occupation. These children were born to Italian mothers and non-white Allied soldiers, and were highly racialized in the post-war period.

Dr. Patriarca had initially started her research with a different topic in mind, but became interested in the post-war period when she discovered a lack of scholarship about race and racism in Italy after 1945. She began to focus on the experiences of mix-raced Italian children when she came across a 1961 Italian anthropometric study of a group of mixed-race children born during and right after WWII. T​he children ​ had been measured in all sorts of invasive way ​to determine ​the physical, intellectual, and psychological traits ​that distinguished them, as if they were a group apart from a racial standpoint. “I ​found the book offensive and asked myself​ what do we know about the experiences of these children? I wondered what happened to them ​at that time and ​after [these studies were finished]?” Dr. Patriarca said. She saw these racial studies as​ linked to the large issue of Italian identity, the war experience, and the trauma of defeat. Fascist and racist​ ideas still circulated throughout Italy after World War II and permeated the scientific community especially. “Of course mentalities are slow to change,” Dr. Patriarca explained “It was troubling that many historians could still not see the intersection of nation and race in the postwar period and the lingering effects of fascism​ and racism on national identity.”…

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Preference and prejudice: Does intermarriage erode negative ethno-racial attitudes between groups in Spain?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Europe, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-03-30 15:24Z by Steven

Preference and prejudice: Does intermarriage erode negative ethno-racial attitudes between groups in Spain?

Ethnicities
Published online before print 2016-03-28
DOI: 10.1177/1468796816638404

Dan Rodríguez-García, Associate Professor
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Miguel Solana-Solana
Department of Geography
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Miranda J. Lubbers, Ramón y Cajal Researcher
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

This paper challenges the idea – rooted in classic assimilation theory – that intermarriage clearly erodes social and ethno-racial boundaries and negative attitudes between groups. Drawing on narratives from 58 immigrants of seven different origin countries residing in Catalonia, Spain, who are in romantic partnerships with Spanish-born people, we focus on preferences and prejudices related to mixing. We find that the members of exogamous couples both suffer social discrimination regarding the crossing of ethnocultural borders, particularly from their respective family members – a rejection that is based on negative stereotypes and preconceptions linked to the partner’s origin, phenotype or ethnocultural characteristics, such as religion, in intersection with gender. More significantly, we also find that ethno-racial prejudices (particularly when referring to marriage preferences for the respondents and their children) and discriminatory attitudes (towards one’s own and other immigrant minority groups) also exist among intermarried couples themselves. In sum, we question the role of mixed unions as a diluter of differences and an accelerator of integration.

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