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.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , ,

Amherst Together asking for poems about identity, presenting 1-woman performance on notion of race

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-26 20:53Z by Steven

Amherst Together asking for poems about identity, presenting 1-woman performance on notion of race

MassLive
2015-03-24

Diane Lederman, Reporter
The Springfield Republican


Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni is bringing her one-woman show “One Drop of Love” to Amherst Middle School April 15 as part of the Amherst Together initiative. (Submitted)

AMHERST, [Massachusetts] – Since July, Carol Ross has been doing a lot of listening and a lot of information collecting.

But she said she is happy with the progress that Amherst Together is making.

She was hired by the town and the schools as the media and climate communications specialist to foster collaboration to help create a community in which people feel like they belong.

She met with the Select Board recently for a brief update and then Tuesday answered questions.

She expects that they will have finished collecting data on the community survey in April. The survey was developed with a public participation class in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department at the University of Massachusetts. She will get help from Amherst College in interpreting the data as well.

They need about 75 more to answer it from targeted neighborhoods. The survey is intended to find out what the community’s values are to get a sense of the kind of community people want to see. That will help lead to a larger conversation later.

And on April 15, they are bringing Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni to the Amherst Regional Middle School at 7 p.m. for a free one-woman performance called “One Drop of Love.”

Produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the show incorporates “filmed images, photographs and animation to tell the story of how the notion of race came to be in the United Sates and how it affected her relationship with her father,” according to a press release

As Ross said in a press release describing the show as well as in her interview, her work is not just about race…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

Nicole von Germeten, Associate Professor of History
Oregon State University

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: , ,

Accessing the Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations Oral History Collection through the Digital Humanities

Posted in Articles, Audio, Autobiography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-25 13:55Z by Steven

Accessing the Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations Oral History Collection through the Digital Humanities

Brooklyn Historical Society Blog
Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn, New York
2015-03-23

Julia Lipkins

I’m pleased to announce that the Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations (CBBG) oral history collection is now open for research! From 2011 to 2014, a team of oral historians sponsored by BHS conducted interviews with mixed-heritage people and families in Brooklyn. CBBG narrators and interviewers explored the themes of cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity and identity formation in the United States. The complete collection of over 100 oral history interviews is available for use in the Othmer Library and a portion of the contents are accessible online at the CBBG website.

An exciting feature of the CBBG website is a new digital humanities application known as OHMS, or the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer. OHMS, developed by oral history wunderkind Doug Boyd and his team at the University of Kentucky Libraries, tackles an inherent challenge in oral history archives, i.e. accessing the oral history via the recording manifestation vs. transcript manifestation. While the audio recording provides the richness and context of the narrator’s voice, the transcript offers researchers the capacity to conduct keyword searches throughout the interview. OHMS solves this dilemma by marrying the audio recording to the transcript, thereby making both manifestations of the interview searchable…

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

One Drop of Love at New York University

Posted in Arts, Autobiography, Census/Demographics, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-24 01:08Z by Steven

One Drop of Love at New York University

New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Place
New York, New York 10012
Friday, 2015-04-17, 20:00 EDT (Local Time)

One Drop of Love is a multimedia solo show written and performed by Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni. It asks audiences to consider: how does our belief in ‘race’ affect our most intimate relationships? The show travels near and far, in the past and present, to explore family, race, love and pain – and a path towards reconciliation. Audiences will go on a journey from the 1700s to the present, to cities all over the U.S, and to West and East Africa, where both the narrator and her father spent time in search of their racial roots.

Produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni.

One Drop of Love is the closing program for NYU Ally Week.

For more information click here. To purchase tickets, click here.

Tags: , , ,

Deconstructing Pseudo-Scientific Anthropology: Anténor Firmin and the Reconceptualization of African Humanity

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive on 2015-03-23 01:41Z by Steven

Deconstructing Pseudo-Scientific Anthropology: Anténor Firmin and the Reconceptualization of African Humanity

The Journal of Pan African Studies
Volume 7, Number 2, August 2014
pages 9-33

Gershom Williams, Adjunct Professor of African-American History and African-American Studies
Mesa Community College, Mesa, Arizona

“The science of inequality is emphatically a science of White people. It is they who have invented it, and set it going, who have maintained, cherished and propagated it, thanks to their observations and their deductions.” –Jean Finot, Race Prejudice (1907)

“A preponderance of (fossil) and genetic evidence has revealed, virtually beyond a doubt, that the same Europeans who created the idea of race and White supremacy are the genetic progeny of the very Africans they devalued.” –Salim Muwakkil, Chicago Tribune

Abstract

Euro-American ideas and assumptions regarding African innate inferiority and racial inequality are central to the pseudo-scientific ‘race myth’ of White supremacy. In their search to find an expedient explanation, rationalization and justification for the horrific holocaust of enslavement, Europeans and later White Americans developed the international thesis and concept of African biological and intellectual inferiority.

In this exploratory essay, I am endeavoring to present a critical review of the anti-racist, vindicationist tradition of African American and Haitian intellectuals who challenged, rejected and refuted the ‘scientific racism’ of Euro-American ethnologists, Egyptologists, anthropologists, historians, philosophers, and physicians.

In another essay that we discuss in the contents of this manuscript, anti-racist theorists Stepan and Gilman argue that those stigmatized and stereotyped by the ideology of ‘scientific racism’ published prolific counter narratives that remain obscured and unrecognized by the historians of mainstream science.

What did the men and women of African descent in the diaspora, categorized by the biological, medical and anthropological sciences as racially inferior have to say about the matter? How did they respond to the charges and claims made about them in the name of science? In seeking to provide credible answers to the latter questions, we are re-visiting the powerful and illuminating publications by Black American and Haitian writers of the pre-Antènor Firmin era which are viable proof of the vindicationist tradition inherent among diasporan Black intellectuals. This school or community of literate intellectuals boldly offers a passionate and consistent rhetoric of resistance to economic and psychological enslavement and the mis-education of their people.

This essay remembers and pays homage to those public intellectuals of the early and late nineteenth century who dared to disagree with popular opinion and proceeded to debate the dangerous discourse of race and the fallacy of White supremacy. Central to our narrative are the names and voices of David Walker, Lydia Maria Child, Frederick Douglass, Martin R. Delaney and George Washington Williams. All of the aforementioned writers preceded the publication of Haitian scholar and statesmen Joseph Antènor Firmin’s The Equality of the Human Races in 1885. Haitian anthropologist, Egyptologist, Pan-Africanist and politician J. Antènor Firmin did not rise out of an intellectual vacuum to conduct study and research for his massive and masterful manuscript.

As I attempt to demonstrate in this paper, there is a long standing pre and post Firmin intellectual tradition in the United States and Haiti during the early nineteenth and continuing throughout the twentieth century. Like many of the intellectuals already mentioned, Antènor Firmin (a descendant of the Haitian intellectual Maroons) obviously did not possess an inferiority complex. He was not intellectually intimidated by the dominant thinking and behavior of the advocates of racial ranking and hierarchy.

A bold and brilliant thinker, he re-envisioned and re-conceptualized the image and pre-colonial cultural heritage of African descended people. Lastly, my essential purpose in presenting this paper is to convey to the reader(s) that prior to the invention and propagation of the ‘race myth’, the concept and belief in Black inferiority was non-existent.

As classicist historian Frank M. Snowden Jr. writes in his iconic text, Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks, “…Nothing comparable to the virulent color prejudice of modern times existed in the ancient world. This is the view of most scholars who have examined the evidence and who have come to conclusions such as these: The ancients did not fall into the error of biological racism; Black skin color was not a sign of inferiority…” (Snowden 1983: 63) By confronting and deconstructing the multitude of racial myths and stereotypes fashioned by Euro-Americans centuries ago, Antènor Firmin and others who believed in liberty, equality and fraternity could dismantle and destroy the foundational pillars of scientific racism. It is indeed instructive to remember what anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits stated a half century ago. “…The myth of the Negro (African) past is one of the principal supports of race prejudice in this
country…”

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“General Heads,” Great Minds, and the Genesis of Scientific Racism

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2015-03-23 01:02Z by Steven

“General Heads,” Great Minds, and the Genesis of Scientific Racism

Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies
Volume 15, Number 2, Spring 2015
pages 112-118

Robin Runia, Assistant Professor of English
Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana

It is commonly presum’d that the Heat of the Climate wherein they live, is the reason, why so many Inhabitants of the Scorching Regions of Africa are Black; and there is this familiar Observation to Countenance this Conjecture, That we plainly see that Mowers, Reapers, and other Countrey-people, who spend the most part of the Hot Summer dayes expos’d to the Sun, have the skin of their Hands and Faces, which are the parts immediately Expos’d to the Sun and Air, made of a Darker Colour than before, and consequently tending to Blackness; And Contrarywise we observe that the Danes and some other people that Inhabit Cold Climates, and even the English who feel not so Rigorous a Cold, have usually Whiter faces than the Spaniards, Portugalls and other European Inhabitants of Hotter Climates. But this Argument I take to be far more Specious than Convincing. (153–54)

There is another Opinion concerning the Complexion of Negroes, that . . . the Blackness of Negroes [is] an effect of Noah’s Curse ratify’d by God’s, upon Cham; But though I think that even a Naturalist may without disparagement believe all the Miracles attested by the Holy Scriptures, yet in this case to flye to a Supernatural Cause, will, I fear, look like Shifting off the Difficulty, instead of Resolving it; for we enquire not the First and Universal, but the Proper, Immediate, and Physical Cause of the Jetty Colour of Negroes; And not only we do not find expressed in the Scripture, that the Curse meant by Noah to Cham, was the Blackness of his Posterity, but we do find plainly enough there that the Curse was quite another thing, namely that he should be a Servant of Servants, that is by an Ebraism, a very Abject Servant to his Brethren. . . . Nor is it evident that Blackness is a Curse, for Navigators tell us of Black Nations, who think so much otherwise of their own condition, that they paint the Devil White. Nor is Blackness inconsistent with Beauty, which even to our European Eyes consists not so much in Colour, as an Advantageous Stature, a Comely Symmetry of the parts of the Body, and Good Features in the Face. So that I see not why Blackness should be thought such a Curse to the Negroes, unless perhaps it be, that being wont to go Naked in those Hot Climates, the Colour of their Skin does probably, according to the Doctrine above deliver’d, make the Sunbeams more Scorching to them, than they would prove to a people of a White Complexion. (159–60)

Greater probability there is, That the Principal Cause (for I would not exclude all concurrent ones) of the Blackness of Negroes is some Peculiar and Seminal Impression. (161)

—Robert Boyle, Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours (1664)

The above extracts present Robert Boyle’s delineation of racialized difference, as produced and evaluated by the Royal Society; this delineation, production, and evaluation is the lifeblood of Cristina Malcolmson’s Studies of Skin Color in the Royal Society. Exploring the development of the modern notion of race within the context of colonialism, Malcolmson argues that “the attention to skin color in the Royal Society allowed racialization to develop and eventually flourish within the practices of the new science” (7). Specifically, attention to the imbrication of this process within institutional and economic commitments to British imperial dominance helps to fill in the gaps between an attention to skin color, consideration of its causes, and the dehumanization and subjugation of non-European individuals. Malcolmson’s focus on the Royal Society’s activities and publications and on Margaret Cavendish’s and Jonathan Swift’s reactions to them provides an important and nuanced contribution to the recent scholarship in this area as well as a call for additional work to be done.

The value of this volume lies in Malcolmson’s thorough presentation of compelling evidence and insightful close readings that expose the Royal Society’s complicity in the spread of racialized discourse and racist thought. In addition, Malcomson’s original contributions to scholarship on the historical construction of race include her critique of polygenesis as inherently racist and her methodical…

Tags: ,

Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:43Z by Steven

Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

The Detroit Free Press
2015-03-22

Cassandra Spratling

Tiya Miles got it honest.

Straight from her grandmother’s garden. That knack for telling stories that pull at your heartstrings.

“I’m one of those people who had a storytelling grandma,” says Miles. “We’d be in the garden or snapping peas on the porch and my grandma would be telling stories, about life in Mississippi, about how the family lost their farm to a white man, about how they came up North on a train. Those stories riveted me and they shaped me.

“If my grandmother had had my life, she would have won three MacArthur Fellowships,” Miles says of her grandmother, the late Alice King.

But it was Miles, 45, who was granted a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2011, and it was that award that gave her the shot of confidence she needed to up her game and write her first novel, which will be released next month.

Friends and coworkers at the University of Michigan are hosting a book launch party for “the Cherokee Rose” (John F. Blair, $26.95) Tuesday…

…Not that she doesn’t greatly appreciate the fellowship that annually doles out a ton of money to selected people in a variety of areas so that they can pursue their areas of interest, unencumbered by money woes.

Without it, she doubts she would have completed “the Cherokee Rose,” a novel that uses three modern day women to take readers on a haunting, sometimes horrific, but redemptive journey to a little-known past on a Southern plantation where Native-American and African-American lives were intertwined. In the process, the women make unexpected connections to one another and others…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:31Z by Steven

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

John F. Blair
2015-04-07
264 pages
6×9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-89587-635-5

Tiya Miles, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women’s History
University of Michigan

Written by an award-winning historian and recipient of a recent MacArthur “Genius Grant,” The Cherokee Rose explores territory reminiscent of the bestselling and beloved works of Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Louise Erdrich. Now, Tiya Miles’s luminous but highly accessible novel examines a little-known aspect of America’s past—slaveholding by Southern Creeks and Cherokees—and its legacy in the lives of three young women who are drawn to the Georgia plantation where scenes of extreme cruelty and equally extraordinary compassion once played out.

Based on the author’s in-depth and award-winning research into archival sources at the Chief Vann House Historic Site in Chatsworth, Georgia, and the Moravian mission sponsored there in the early 1800s, Miles has blended this fascinating history with a contemporary cast of engaging and memorable characters, including Jinx, the free-spirited historian exploring her tribe’s complicated racial history; Ruth, whose mother sought refuge from a troubled marriage in her beloved garden and the cosmetic empire she built from its bounty; Cheyenne, the Southern black debutante seeking to connect with a meaningful personal history; and, hovering above them all, the spirit of long-gone Mary Ann Battis, a young woman suspected of burning a mission to the ground and then disappearing from tribal records. Together, the women’s discoveries about the secrets of the Cherokee plantation trace their attempts to connect with the strong spirits of the past and reconcile the conflicts in their own lives.

Tags: , ,