Call for Papers: Power, Intimacy and the State: Mixed Families in Europe and Beyond

Posted in Anthropology, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-02-20 02:17Z by Steven

Call for Papers: Power, Intimacy and the State: Mixed Families in Europe and Beyond

Power, Intimacy and the State: Mixed Families in Europe and Beyond Conference
University of Amsterdam
June 12-13, 2017
2017-01-20

Betty de Hart, Professor of Migration Law
Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG)
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

CALL FOR PAPERS (View PDF version here.)

Historically, mixed couples and people of mixed descent have been seen as a problem, in popular culture as well as in academic literature. ‘Ethnically’ and ‘racially’ mixed relationships were described as dominated by power imbalances and as devoid of love. This perspective was brought to bear upon relationships and marriages in colonial times and in times of slavery. Even today, within the context of global migration, mixed couples are often perceived in negative terms, e.g. in discourses on ‘mail order brides’ (marriages between white men and migrant women) or ‘beznez marriages’ (marriages between white women and migrant men).

There is no denying that mixed couples and relations are fraught with power inequalities as they developed in the context of historical and modern-day global inequalities, colonialism, post-colonialism, slavery and racialised hierarchies. However, issues concerning the entanglement of power and privilege with intimate relationships are much more complex than they are often envisioned to be. Since the 1980s, scholars of ‘mixture’ and ‘mixedness’, including critical race and critical mixed race studies, have been questioning this pathologisation of mixed couples and mixed descent. They have called for more nuanced approaches to the lived experiences of mixed couples and persons of mixed descent, that should help us strike a proper balance between an overly negative view on the one hand and an unwarranted romanticised view on the other, which regards mixed relationships and mixed heritage as a means for creating a boundary-less and race-less world.

Hence, this conference addresses questions such as: how we may gain a fuller understanding of the lived experiences of mixed couples, power, and intimacy, without pathologizing and dehumanizing them? This conference aims to approach these questions from international comparative perspectives. How can a balanced view be achieved in the European context, where mixed couples are mostly studied with respect to the contradictory imperative of cultural assimilation on the one hand and respect for cultural difference on the other? And what about other continents such as Africa or Asia?

The conference

The conference seeks to bring together people from different disciplines (ethnic and racial studies, critical (mixed) race studies, history, (post)colonial studies, film and media studies, literature, sociology, anthropology, geography, law, gender studies, sexuality and queer studies, migration studies, et cetera), and from different national backgrounds. We believe that an interdisciplinary and comparative approach is key to gaining the ‘thick’ understanding of mixed relationships that this conference aims at. We especially hope to give a boost to the study of mixture and mixed intimacies in the European context.

The conference is a joint initiative of the Amsterdam Centre of European Law and Governance (University of Amsterdam), and the Maastricht Centre for Gender and Diversity, in cooperation with LovingDay.NL. It will take place on 12 and 13 June 2017, when Loving Day is commemorated as the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Loving v. Virginia American Supreme Court decision, that held that interracial marriage prohibitions were unconstitutional.

Papers may relate to, but are not limited to, the following topics:

1. Mixed couples and persons of mixed heritage navigating power and inequality

In order to study power differentiations within mixed families adequately, obviously, not only race or ethnicity but also gender and class are relevant identity markers. How can an intersectional approach of race, gender and class illuminate power dynamics within mixed families? How do members of mixed families respond to them? Another issue is how youngsters and persons of mixed descent negotiate the different social dynamics and power relations that shape their experiences? How and by what means do they claim the power to define themselves?

2. Activism and NGOs of mixed families and people of mixed descent

Across the globe, mixed couples and people of mixed descent have become activists and established NGOs to facilitate the telling of their stories and to challenge the disempowerment caused by dominant negative, pathologizing understandings of mixed couples and mixture. Who are the persons and parties that speak in the name of mixed families, and what are the interests at stake? What alternative discourses do they put forward? How do stories and experiences of mixed families and persons of mixed heritage matter in public and political debates on multicultural/multiracial societies, and anti-racism? And how does discovering ‘hidden’ historical stories of mixed heritage function in these debates?

3. State and institutional policies shaping power and inequalities

Power dynamics within mixed couples and families are closely intertwined with the power hierarchies of race/ethnicity, gender, and class within society at large. State laws and policies shape identities of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ and determine the definition of who or what is ‘mixed’. State and institutional policies have both struggled to discourage or prevent, and to encourage or even celebrate mixed relationships. If state and institutional policies decide the meaning of difference, how should we understand various meanings of ‘mixed couples’ and ‘mixed descent across Europe and beyond? What are the transnational linkages between continents, colony and metropole, global north and global south? How does the state shape and regulate mixed families and identities and which effects do they have on the internal power dynamics of mixed couples?

4. Performing mixed relationships in the arts, popular culture and news media

In the present and in the past, the arts, popular culture and news media have been enacting specific scripts for mixed relationships, which have confirmed and critiqued perspectives implied in social policies, and state politics. We will study in what ways the arts, popular culture and news media have constructed, mediated and challenged the dominant, problematizing approach to mixed couples and people of mixed descent, as well as unwarranted romantic idealizations of mixed couples as the key to a fair society. What concepts of mixed identity have been produced by these media and how were these perceived by the general public? What were the agencies of mixed individuals and families in dealing with the written texts and visual images about them? And how have these changed through time and across space?

5. Studying mixedness in Europe

Until today, Europe does not have a strong academic tradition in studying mixed couples and mixed descent, as opposed to, for instance, the US or the UK. How can the study of mixedness in Europe be given a boost, and move beyond the exclusive association of mixed couples with the ‘assimilation versus difference’ debate? How is European research linked to dominant, politicized categorizations of what and who is ‘mixed’? How is research in Europe linked to policy perceptions of the social meaning of mixed relationships and mixed heritage? Do European research traditions challenge the binaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’? And what about the heteronormativity of much of the studies on mixed couples and families? How can the development of an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach help us understand the relation between power, intimacy and the state in the European context? How can we take inspiration from the Anglo-American research traditions? And in what ways can we employ approaches from critical race and critical mixed race studies?

Abstracts of maximum 400 words to be submitted before March 1, 2017 at: mixedintimacies-fdr@uva.nl

Check our website for regular updates of conference information and practical matters http://acelg.uva.nl/mixedintimacies

The conference will be held at University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Conference organizers:

View in PDF here.

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Black German: An Afro-German Life in the Twentieth Century

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs on 2017-02-19 19:45Z by Steven

Black German: An Afro-German Life in the Twentieth Century

Liverpool University Press
2017-03-01
216 Pages
210 x 147 mm
29 B&W illustrations
Paperback ISBN: 9781781383117

Theodor Michael

Translated by:

Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies
University of Liverpool

This is the first English translation of an important document in the history of the black presence in Germany and Europe: the autobiography of Theodor Michael. Theodor Michael is the last surviving member of the first generation of ‘Afro-Germans’: Born in Germany in 1925 to a Cameroonian father and a German mother, he grew up in Berlin in the last days of the Weimar Republic. As a child and teenager he worked in circuses and films and experienced the tightening knot of racial discrimination under the Nazis in the years before the Second World War. He survived the war as a forced labourer, founding a family and making a career as a journalist and actor in post-war West Germany. Since the 1980s he has become an important spokesman for the black German consciousness movement, acting as a human link between the first black German community of the inter-war period, the pan-Africanism of the 1950s and 1960s, and new generations of Germans of African descent.

Theodor Michael’s life story is a classic account of coming to consciousness of a man who understands himself as both black and German; accordingly, it illuminates key aspects of modern German social history as well as of the post-war history of the African diaspora. The text has been translated by Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies at the University of Liverpool and an internationally acknowledged expert in black German studies. It is accompanied by a translator’s preface, explanatory notes, a chronology of historical events and a guide to further reading, so that the book will be accessible and useful both for general readers and for undergraduate students.

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Black and French: ‘Mariannes Noires’ film explores the intersections of identity

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, Videos on 2017-02-17 21:08Z by Steven

Black and French: ‘Mariannes Noires’ film explores the intersections of identity

AfroPunk
2017-02-16

T. McLendon

The African diaspora reaches to every corner of the earth and in the Western world Black identity is often formed within the context of white supremacy, white nationalism, and white majorities. For Black people learning, growing and living in France, the intersections of race, class, immigration, and nationality all color their upbringing and everyday lives and new film “Mariannes Noires” aims to dive headfirst into these experiences. Directors Mame-Fatou Niang and Kaytie Nielsen follow seven French woman of African and Caribbean origins of various professions and try to extract what binds them beyond their Blackness…

Read the entire article here.

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Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Posted in Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United States on 2017-02-13 02:35Z by Steven

Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Princeton University Press
March 2017
224 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
7 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780691172422
eBook ISBN: 9781400884636

James Q. Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law
Yale Law School

Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler’s American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.

As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws—the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened, but too harsh.

Indelibly linking American race laws to the shaping of Nazi policies in Germany, Hitler’s American Model upends understandings of America’s influence on racist practices in the wider world.

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First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive on 2017-02-11 20:21Z by Steven

First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety
2017-02-08

Leo Barraclough, Senior International Correspondent


Courtesy of Tantrum Films/Pinewood Pictures

Variety has been given exclusive access to the first-look image from Amma Asante’sWhere Hands Touch,” which stars Amandla Stenberg (“The Hunger Games”) and George MacKay (“Captain Fantastic”) in a story of forbidden love in Nazi Germany.

Fifteen-year-old Leyna (Stenberg), daughter of a white German mother and a black father, meets Lutz (MacKay), the son of a prominent SS officer, and a member of the Hitler Youth. “They fall helplessly in love, putting their lives at risk as all around them the persecution of Jews and those deemed ‘non-pure’ slowly unfolds,” according to a statement. “Does their love stand a chance amidst violence and hatred?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Auschwitz to Rwanda: The link between science, colonialism and genocide

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2017-02-01 22:16Z by Steven

Auschwitz to Rwanda: The link between science, colonialism and genocide

Mail & Guardian Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
2017-02-01

Heike Becker


Sixty years later, the recurrent connections of science and genocide still demonstrate the dark underbelly of Western modernity in Africa, Europe, and the world. (Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly)

Significant links connect racial science in colonial southern Africa with the holocaust of the European Jews.

When the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz death camp on January 27 1945, among the prisoners left behind were a number of young twins. The surviving children and many more who had died were the subject of disturbing human experiments by Josef Mengele, a physician known as the “Angel of Death”.

About 3 000 twins were selected from an estimated 1.3-million people who arrived at Auschwitz for Mengele’s deadly “scientific” experiments. Only about 200 of them survived.

Mengele is significant for understanding the complicity of science with the mass atrocities of the 20th century. The elegant young doctor defied the stereotypical image of the Nazi brute. He was no crazy drunken beast with a whip. This was an ambitious researcher of human genetics, holding doctorates in anthropology and medicine.

Mengele worked in Auschwitz from May 1943. The death camp presented him with a “perfect” laboratory. It provided an unlimited supply of human specimens to study genetics, and he wouldn’t get into trouble if they died following lethal injections and other gruesome experiments.

Nazis and colonial ‘racial science’

The institute’s first director in 1927 was the well-known physical anthropologist Eugen Fischer. Fischer was a prolific researcher who had earned his scientific merits in genetics and racial science in the then German colony of German South West Africa (today’s Namibia).

His 1908 field study, published in 1913, focused on the effects of racial mixing (“miscegenation”), applying the genetic theory of Gregor Mendel. Fischer examined 310 children of the “Basters” of Rehoboth, a community of “mixed-race” people living to the South of Windhoek in Namibia.

The Rehobother offspring of Nama women and white men were observed and subjected to physical measurements. Based on these “scientific” methods, Fischer classified the mixed-race population.

His verdict that African blood imparted impurity resulted in the prohibition of mixed-race marriages in all German colonies by 1912. In Namibia interracial marriage was already prohibited in 1905.

German colonialism ended after World War I. This, however, was not the end of racial science. Incubated in the colonial laboratories of southern Africa, it was brought back and applied in “civilised” central Europe. Fischer first followed up his “bastard studies” in the 1920s and early 1930s with the “Rhineland bastards”, children born to German mothers and fathers from the French African colonies. Few black Germans perished during the Nazi era. But, many were forcibly sterilised.

The story of the KWI-A demonstrates how several significant dimensions connect 20th century racial science, colonialism and genocide…

Read the entire article here.

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Unmaking Race and Ethnicity: A Reader

Posted in Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Barack Obama, Books, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, Mexico, Religion, Slavery, Social Justice, Social Science, Teaching Resources, United States on 2017-01-30 01:51Z by Steven

Unmaking Race and Ethnicity: A Reader

Oxford University Press
2016-07-20
512 Pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780190202712

Edited by:

Michael O. Emerson, Provost and Professor of Sociology
North Park University
also Senior Fellow at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Jenifer L. Bratter, Associate Professor of Sociology; Director of the Program for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Culture at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Sergio Chávez, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Race and ethnicity is a contentious topic that presents complex problems with no easy solutions. (Un)Making Race and Ethnicity: A Reader, edited by Michael O. Emerson, Jenifer L. Bratter, and Sergio Chávez, helps instructors and students connect with primary texts in ways that are informative and interesting, leading to engaging discussions and interactions. With more than thirty collective years of teaching experience and research in race and ethnicity, the editors have chosen selections that will encourage students to think about possible solutions to solving the problem of racial inequality in our society. Featuring global readings throughout, (Un)Making Race and Ethnicity covers both race and ethnicity, demonstrating how they are different and how they are related. It includes a section dedicated to unmaking racial and ethnic orders and explains challenging concepts, terms, and references to enhance student learning.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • UNIT I. Core Concepts and Foundations
    • What Is Race? What Is Ethnicity? What Is the Difference?
      • Introduction, Irina Chukhray and Jenifer Bratter
      • 1. Constructing Ethnicity: Creating and Recreating Ethnic Identity and Culture, Joane Nagel
      • 2. The Racialization of Kurdish Identity in Turkey, Murat Ergin
      • 3. Who Counts as “Them?”: Racism and Virtue in the United States and France, Michèle Lamont
      • 4. Mexican Immigrant Replenishment and the Continuing Significance of Ethnicity and Race, Tomás R. Jiménez
    • Why Race Matters
      • Introduction, Laura Essenburg and Jenifer Bratter
      • 5. Excerpt from Racial Formation in the United States From the 1960s to the 1990s, Michael Omi and Howard Winant
      • 6. Structural and Cultural Forces that Contribute to Racial Inequality, William Julius Wilson
      • 7. From Traditional to Liberal Racism: Living Racism in the Everyday, Margaret M. Zamudio and Francisco Rios
      • 8. Policing and Racialization of Rural Migrant Workers in Chinese Cities, Dong Han
      • 9. Why Group Membership Matters: A Critical Typology, Suzy Killmister
    • What Is Racism? Does Talking about Race and Ethnicity Make Things Worse?
      • Introduction, Laura Essenburg and Jenifer Bratter
      • 10. What Is Racial Domination?, Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer
      • 11. Discursive Colorlines at Work: How Epithets and Stereotypes are Racially Unequal, David G. Embrick and Kasey Henricks
      • 12. When Ideology Clashes with Reality: Racial Discrimination and Black Identity in Contemporary Cuba, Danielle P. Clealand
      • 13. Raceblindness in Mexico: Implications for Teacher Education in the United States, Christina A. Sue
  • UNIT II. Roots: Making Race and Ethnicity
    • Origins of Race and Ethnicity
      • Introduction, Adriana Garcia and Michael Emerson
      • 14. Antecedents of the Racial Worldview, Audrey Smedley and Brian Smedley
      • 15. Building the Racist Foundation: Colonialism, Genocide, and Slavery, Joe R. Feagin
      • 16. The Racialization of the Globe: An Interactive Interpretation, Frank Dikötter
    • Migrations
      • Introduction, Sandra Alvear
      • 17. Excerpt from Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945, George J. Sánchez
      • 18. Migration to Europe since 1945: Its History and Its Lessons, Randall Hansen
      • 19. When Identities Become Modern: Japanese Emigration to Brazil and the Global Contextualization of Identity, Takeyuki (Gaku) Tsuda
    • Ideologies
      • Introduction, Junia Howell
      • 20. Excerpt from Racism: A Short History, George M. Fredrickson
      • 21. Understanding Latin American Beliefs about Racial Inequality, Edward Telles and Stanley Bailey
      • 22. Buried Alive: The Concept of Race in Science, Troy Duster
  • Unit III. Today: Remaking Race and Ethnicity
    • Aren’t We All Just Human? How Race and Ethnicity Help Us Answer the Question
      • Introduction, Adriana Garcia
      • 23. Young Children Learning Racial and Ethnic Matters, Debra Van Ausdale and Joe R. Feagin
      • 24. When White Is Just Alright: How Immigrants Redefine Achievement and Reconfigure the Ethnoracial Hierarchy, Tomás R. Jiménez and Adam L. Horowitz
      • 25. From Bi-Racial to Tri-Racial: Towards a New System of Racial Stratification in the USA, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
      • 26. Indigenism, Mestizaje, and National Identity in Mexico during the 1940s and the 1950s, Anne Doremus
    • The Company You Keep: How Ethnicity and Race Frame Social Relationships
      • Introduction, William Rothwell
      • 27. Who We’ll Live With: Neighborhood Racial Composition Preferences of Whites, Blacks and Latinos, Valerie A. Lewis, Michael O. Emerson, and Stephen L. Klineberg
      • 28. The Costs of Diversity in Religious Organizations: An In-Depth Case Study, Brad Christerson and Michael O. Emerson
    • The Uneven Playing Field: How Race and Ethnicity Impact Life Chances
      • Introduction, Ellen Whitehead and Jenifer Bratter
      • 29. Wealth in the Extended Family: An American Dilemma, Ngina S. Chiteji
      • 30. The Complexities and Processes of Racial Housing Discrimination, Vincent J. Roscigno, Diana L. Karafin, and Griff Tester
      • 31. Racial Segregation and the Black/White Achievement Gap, 1992 to 2009, Dennis J. Condron, Daniel Tope, Christina R. Steidl, and Kendralin J. Freeman
      • 32. Differential Vulnerabilities: Environmental and Economic Inequality and Government Response to Unnatural Disasters, Robert D. Bullard
      • 33. Racialized Mass Incarceration: Poverty, Prejudice, and Punishment, Lawrence D. Bobo and Victor Thompson
  • Unit IV. Unmaking Race and Ethnicity
    • Thinking Strategically
      • Introduction, Junia Howell and Michael Emerson
      • 34. The Return of Assimilation? Changing Perspectives on Immigration and Its Sequels in France, Germany, and the United States, Rogers Brubaker
      • 35. Toward a Truly Multiracial Democracy: Thinking and Acting Outside the White Frame, Joe R. Feagin
      • 36. Destabilizing the American Racial Order, Jennifer Hochschild, Vesla Weaver, and Traci Burch
    • Altering Individuals and Relationships
      • Introduction, Horace Duffy and Jenifer Bratter
      • 37. A More Perfect Union, Barack Obama
      • 38. What Can Be Done?, Debra Van Ausdale and Joe R. Feagin
      • 39. The Multiple Dimensions of Racial Mixture in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: From Whitening to Brazilian Negritude, Graziella Moraes da Silva and Elisa P. Reis
    • Altering Structures
      • Introduction, Kevin T. Smiley and Jenifer Bratter
      • 40. The Case for Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates
      • 41. “Undocumented and Citizen Students Unite”: Building a Cross-Status Coalition Through Shared Ideology, Laura E. Enriquez
      • 42. Racial Solutions for a New Society, Michael Emerson and George Yancey
      • 43. DREAM Act College: UCLA Professors Create National Diversity University, Online School for Undocumented Immigrants, Alyssa Creamer
  • Glossary
  • Credits
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Ruth Negga: ‘Stories about race and identity pique my interest… I have always felt like a fish out of water’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-01-06 00:24Z by Steven

Ruth Negga: ‘Stories about race and identity pique my interest… I have always felt like a fish out of water’

The Belfast Telegraph
2016-12-31

Patricia Danaher


Starring role: Ruth Negga’s career is going from strength to strength

Nominated for a Golden Globe, tipped for an Oscar and on the cover of Vogue, Ruth Negga is the woman of the moment. Here, the actress tells Patricia Danaher how growing up mixed race in the Republic helped her inhabit the role that’s made her a star

It seems somewhat fitting that, as the cover star of US Vogue’s January edition, Ruth Negga wears an Alexander Wang blouse covered in red roses. After all, back home in Ireland it’s for her role as Rosie in Love/Hate that Ruth is perhaps best known.

That part, as the star-crossed lover of the show’s original protagonist Darren (played by Robert Sheehan) was, of course, just one of the many times the Limerick woman has graced TV screens in recent years. The chameleon-like actress has also featured in such diverse productions as Neil Jordan’s Breakfast on Pluto, edgy Channel 4 show Misfits, and big-budget US series Agents of Shield and Preacher.

In the UK, she works almost continuously on video games, in theatre and on TV – winning critical acclaim for her portrayal of Ophelia at the National Theatre and of Shirley Bassey in a BBC biopic about the singer. Despite these numerous prominent roles, however, 35-year-old Ruth has managed to stay mostly under the radar in her long career.

Until now, that is. Nominated earlier this month for a Golden Globe and hotly tipped for an Oscar, she’s gone from jobbing actor to Vogue cover girl in the blink of an eye. In Hollywood, those who have just discovered Ruth through her role in new movie Loving are calling her “an overnight success, 10 years in the making”…

Read the entire article here.

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Miss France ‘whitened’ for Paris Match

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-12-26 20:38Z by Steven

Miss France ‘whitened’ for Paris Match

The Times of London
2016-12-23

Charles Bremner, Europe Editor

A row over racism has tainted this year’s Miss France contest after the winner was pictured in a magazine with apparently lightened features and her hair straightened.

Alicia Aylies, an 18-year-old student who earlier won the Miss French Guiana contest, was chosen as Miss France last weekend, prompting criticism from far-right commentators on social media that she hails from the south American French département

Read the entire article here.

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On Optimism and Despair

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations on 2016-12-22 02:28Z by Steven

On Optimism and Despair

The New York Review of Books
2016-12-22

Zadie Smith

A talk given in Berlin on November 10 on receiving the 2016 Welt Literature Prize.

First I would like to acknowledge the absurdity of my position. Accepting a literary prize is perhaps always a little absurd, but in times like these not only the recipient but also the giver feels some sheepishness about the enterprise. But here we are. President Trump rises in the west, a united Europe drops below the horizon on the other side of the ocean—but here we still are, giving a literary prize, receiving one. So many more important things were rendered absurd by the events of November 8 that I hesitate to include my own writing in the list, and only mention it now because the most frequent question I’m asked about my work these days seems to me to have some bearing on the situation at hand.

The question is: “In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” It is a question usually posed in a tone of sly eagerness—you will recognize this tone if you’ve ever heard a child ask permission to do something she has in fact already done…

…I realize as I write this that I have strayed some way from the happiness that should rightly attend accepting a literary prize. I am very happy to accept this great honor—please don’t mistake me. I am more than happy—I am amazed. When I started to write I never imagined that anyone outside of my neighborhood would read these books, never mind outside of England, never mind “on the continent,” as my father liked to call it. I remember how stunned I was to embark on my very first European book tour, to Germany, with my father, who had last been here in 1945, as a young soldier in the reconstruction. It was a trip filled, for him, with nostalgia: he had loved a German girl, back in 1945, and one of his great regrets, he admitted to me on that trip, was not marrying her and instead coming home, to England, and marrying first one woman and then another, my mother.

We made a funny pair on that tour, I’m sure: a young black girl and her elderly white father, clutching our guidebooks and seeking those spots in Berlin that my father had visited almost fifty years earlier. It is from him that I have inherited both my optimism and my despair, for he had been among the liberators at Belsen and therefore seen the worst this world has to offer, but had, from there, gone forward, with a sufficiently open heart and mind, striding into one failed marriage and then another, marrying both times across various lines of class, color, and temperament, and yet still found in life reasons to be cheerful, reasons even for joy.

He was, I realize now, one of the least ideological people I ever met: everything that happened to him he took as a particular case, unable or unwilling to generalize from it. He lost his livelihood but did not lose faith in his country. The education system failed him but he still revered it and placed all his hopes for his children in it. His relations with women were mostly disastrous but he did not hate women. In his mind he did not marry a black girl, he married “Yvonne,” and he did not have an experimental set of mixed-race children, he had me and my brother Ben and my brother Luke.

How rare such people are! I am not so naive even now as to believe we have enough of them at any one time in history to form a decent and tolerant society. But neither will I ever deny their existence or the possibility of lives like his. He was a member of the white working class, a man often afflicted by despair who still managed to retain a core optimism. Perhaps in a different time under different cultural influences living in a different society he would have become one of the rabid old angry white men of whom the present left is so afeared. As it was, born in 1925 and dying in 2006, he saw his children benefit from the civilized postwar protections of free education and free health care, and felt he had many reasons to be grateful…

Read the entire talk here.

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