Negras in Brazil: Re-envisioning Black Women, Citizenship, and the Politics of Identity

Posted in Anthropology, Book/Video Reviews, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, Women on 2016-06-03 18:38Z by Steven

Negras in Brazil: Re-envisioning Black Women, Citizenship, and the Politics of Identity

Rutgers University Press
December 2006
252 pages
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8135-3957-7
Web PDF ISBN: 978-0-8135-4132-7

Kia Lilly Caldwell, Associate Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

For most of the twentieth century, Brazil was widely regarded as a “racial democracy“—a country untainted by the scourge of racism and prejudice. In recent decades, however, this image has been severely critiqued, with a growing number of studies highlighting persistent and deep-seated patterns of racial discrimination and inequality. Yet, recent work on race and racism has rarely considered gender as part of its analysis.

In Negras in Brazil, Kia Lilly Caldwell examines the life experiences of Afro-Brazilian women whose stories have until now been largely untold. This pathbreaking study analyzes the links between race and gender and broader processes of social, economic, and political exclusion. Drawing on ethnographic research with social movement organizations and thirty-five life history interviews, Caldwell explores the everyday struggles Afro-Brazilian women face in their efforts to achieve equal rights and full citizenship. She also shows how the black women’s movement, which has emerged in recent decades, has sought to challenge racial and gender discrimination in Brazil. While proposing a broader view of citizenship that includes domains such as popular culture and the body, Negras in Brazil highlights the continuing relevance of identity politics for members of racially marginalized communities. Providing new insights into black women’s social activism and a gendered perspective on Brazilian racial dynamics, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Latin American Studies, African diaspora studies, women’s studies, politics, and cultural anthropology.

Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • Introduction
  • PART ONE: Re-envisioning the Brazilian Nation
    • 1. “A Foot in the Kitchen”: Brazilian Discourses on Race, Hybridity, and National identity
    • 2. Women in and out of Place: Engendering Brazil’s Racial Democracy
  • PART TWO: The Body and Subjectivity
    • 3. “Look at Her Hair”: The Body Politics of Black Womanhood
    • 4. Becoming a Mulher Negra
  • PART THREE: Activism and Resistance
    • 5. “What Citizenship is This?”: Narratives of Marginality and Struggle
    • 6. The Black Women’s Movement: Politicizing and Reconstructing Collective Identities
  • Epilogue: Resenvisioning Racial Essentialism and Identity Politics
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
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LA poets document the city in ‘Coiled Serpent’ anthology

Posted in Articles, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-05-29 20:18Z by Steven

LA poets document the city in ‘Coiled Serpent’ anthology

Los Angeles Daily News
2016-03-25

Richard Guzman, Arts and Entertainment Reporter
Long Beach Press Telegram

As students take part in a guitar workshop inside his Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in Sylmar, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez grabs a copy of the latest book published by his nonprofit organization.

He walks outside to a small table and sets down his blue Winnie the Pooh coffee cup, exposing a faded forearm tattoo of a long-haired indigenous woman as he flips through the pages of “Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles.”

“I love the beauty of it. The poems really stand out, and I think it’s really reflective of the city. The city is beautiful in so many weird ways,” says the poet and novelist, who is perhaps best known for his memoir “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.

Rodriguez, who was named poet laureate by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014, has long been an advocate for the city, its poetry and the power of words to change lives.

And the new book exemplifies those tenets with a collection of poems that capture the experiences, cultures and even the weirdness that intertwine — and at times collide — to create the fabric of the city.

The anthology includes the voices of more than 160 L.A. poets who are part of the sweeping 371-page tome…

Read the entire article here.

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Where Are You Really From?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-05-29 00:34Z by Steven

Where Are You Really From?

Culture Northern Ireland
2010-04-10

Joanne Savage

Race, republicanism and a mothers love in Tim Brannigan’s memoir

Peggy Brannigan met Michael Ekue at a dance in Belfast in 1965. She was from Beechmount; he was a medic from Ghana. Their eyes met, they danced and sparks flew. She was gorgeous and vivacious and republican. He was well groomed, educated and, exotically for Belfast in the 1960s, black. Both were married but swept away by each other. It was a passionate affair and the result was Tim.

His skin colour meant Peggy Brannigan had to go to extraordinary lengths to placate her husband and stave off the judgement of her devoutly Catholic neighbourhood. A black baby would have sent the busybodies fingering their rosary beads behind the net curtains into overdrive.

The little boy was smuggled from the hospital to St Joseph’s Baby Home. Peggy told everyone it had been a stillbirth. When the dust settled she began to visit her son in St Joseph’s, soon bringing him home on weekends. Eventually she would adopt him.

Meanwhile, Doctor Ekue did what so many philandering married men do. He stuck his head in the sand and carried on as usual, never contributing to his son’s education or upkeep. He returned to Ghana and left Peggy to do the rest.

Being black in the almost totally white working class area of Beechmount in the heart of west Belfast (an area this writer knows all too well), Tim obviously stood out. Narrow-minded people made stupid remarks, including the British soldiers lining the streets. Some classmates were unkind and Tim was increasingly aware that he was different from his four brothers. As he grew up he became embroiled in the republican struggle, despite backward men in bars insisting that it wasn’t his struggle or that, being black, he somehow couldn’t count as republican…

Read the entire review here.

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Recovering the Afro-Metropolis Before Windrush

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-05-26 00:19Z by Steven

Recovering the Afro-Metropolis Before Windrush

Christian John Høgsbjerg
University of Leeds

Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal
Volume 13, Issue 1 (The Caribbean Radical Tradition)
May 2016

Marc Matera, Black London: The Imperial Metropolis and Decolonization in the Twentieth Century (Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2015), 410 pp.

In Black London, Marc Matera’s wide-ranging historical overview of the small but significant African and Afro-Caribbean presence in London from the 1920s to the 1940s, we have an important work which can take its place proudly alongside classic works such as Peter Fryer’s Staying Power and complementing more recent works such as John Belchem’s study of “black Liverpool,” Before the Windrush. Synthesizing scholarship both old and new in a sophisticated manner with an impressive level of archival research undertaken over a decade, Matera provides a powerful, indeed unanswerable, rebuttal to all those who would persist in seeing the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948 as the critical watershed marking the birth of “black British history”. The range of themes explored in Black London – political anticolonial agitation, social questions around interracial sex, imperial metropolitan cultural themes around British film-making and portrayals of Africa on the big screen, and the counter-cultures of resistance forged by black women and a host of musicians from across the African diaspora – mean that the work will appeal and be appreciated by not only historical specialists but also a wider public and popular audience…

…Matera registers in passing how the interracial relationships and marriages often resulting in such working class communities transgressed racial boundaries and upset imperialist sensibilities, noting for example that John Harris, who headed up the Committee for the Welfare of Africans in Europe, proposed to the Home Office in 1936 the gradual repatriation of black seafarers in Britain and suggested “steps might be found for raising the standard” of their mixed offspring “to that of the white races rather than leave them to drift down to that of the black” (210). Yet Matera’s work tells us little for example about the more general institutional racism suffered by this group of workers at the hands of the British state and the ship-owners (sometimes in collusion with the official National Union of Seamen), and perhaps more needed to be said about the “colour bar” that operated more widely across London (and Britain generally), for example in housing. Incidentally, it is noted that black actors such as Orlando Martins and Robert Adams survived by part-time work as wrestlers, but the role of black wrestlers as an aspect of wider inter-war multiracial working class culture might have been usefully developed (though I only am able to write this after recently hearing Gemma Romain give a fascinating paper on this very subject). Speaking of actors, though Matera does briefly discuss black theatre in Britain, I felt he could have pushed a little further in this direction, for example, building on the recent excellent work Black and Asian Theatre in Britain by Colin Chambers…

Read the entire review here.

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Uncovering a Tale of Rocket Science, Race and the ’60s

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-05-22 22:33Z by Steven

Uncovering a Tale of Rocket Science, Race and the ’60s

The New York Times
2016-05-22

Cara Buckley, Culture Reporter


Janelle Monáe, left, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures,” which is slated for release in January. Credit Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox

ATLANTA — Taraji P. Henson hates math, and Octavia Spencer has a paralyzing fear of calculus, but that didn’t stop either actress from playing two of the most important mathematicians the world hasn’t ever known.

Both women are starring in “Hidden Figures,” a forthcoming film that tells the astonishing true story of female African-American mathematicians who were invaluable to NASA’s space program in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s.

Ms. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a math savant who calculated rocket trajectories for, among other spaceflights, the Apollo trips to the moon. Ms. Spencer plays her supervisor, Dorothy Vaughan, and the R&B star Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson, a trailblazing engineer who worked at the agency, too.

Slated for wide release in January, the film is based on the book of the same title, to be published this fall, by Margot Lee Shetterly. The author grew up knowing Ms. Johnson in Hampton, Va., but only recently learned about her outsize impact on America’s space race…

Read the entire article here.

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“Race” and Science

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2016-05-12 01:55Z by Steven

“Race” and Science

The Common Reader: A Journal of The Essay
2016-04-19

Garland Allen, Professor Emeritus of Biology
Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

A new book traces the complicated legacy of race’s biological conceptions.

Michael Yudell; J. Craig Venter (fore.), Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014)

Some years ago, at an elementary school where I was involved in writing and testing a new science curriculum, I was on the playground when a small white boy ran up to the teacher with whom I was talking and said that another boy just hit him. “Which one?” the teacher asked. Pointing to a black boy on the other side of the yard, he said “The one with the red hat.” Brief as it was, that incident had a profound effect on me, leading to the realization that racism—the recognition of race, especially skin color, as a significant, defining difference between people—has to be taught—it is not inborn. Michael Yudell’s new book, Race Unmasked is the story of how race differences have been fashioned and taught, especially with the aid of science, in 20th century America. The book provides an interesting and relevant historical perspective on an issue that recent events in Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore and elsewhere have demonstrated is still very much a part of American cultural baggage.

As the author tells us in the Introduction, “in the 21st century, understanding the way race was constructed within the biological sciences, particularly within genetics and evolutionary biology, is essential to understanding its broader meanings.” Yudell shows how scientists, even with the best intentions of modernizing or modifying the concept to keep up with current evidence, often wound up reinforcing the standard, popular view, helping to insure its survival. Thus, this book is about the paradoxical way in which changing biological conceptions of race, changed between 1700 and 1950 from a fixed and significant taxonomic to an arbitrary and socially-constructed category, nonetheless left a confusing legacy that did not substantially change the common perception of the existence of sharply-defined racial groups. The author’s attempt to trace the history of this paradox and its evolution in the 20th century forms the central thread of the narrative…

Read the entire review here.

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Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People by Michel Hogue (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2016-05-12 01:00Z by Steven

Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People by Michel Hogue (review)

Labour / Le Travail
Issue 77, Spring 2016
pages 297-299
DOI: 10.1353/llt.2016.0039

Sterling Evans, Louise Welsh Chair in Southern Plains and Borderlands History
University of Oklahoma

Michel Hogue, Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People (Regina: University of Regina Press 2015)

It is not an exaggeration to assert that Michel Hogue’s Metis and the Medicine Line is now one of the best studies written about the western Canadian – US borderlands. It is thoroughly researched from a variety of different archival sources from both sides of the 49th parallel, it is very well organized and written, and will be a standard for North American borderlands history for many years to come. Likewise it is a fine addition to the already robust scholarship on Metis history (and note, it was Hogue’s choice to use the word “Metis” without an accent on the “e”). Thus, this combination of themes works to do exactly as the book’s subtitle suggests, relating the history of how creating a border divided a people.

To do so, Hogue argues that the goal of Metis and the Medicine Line is to reveal “how the process of nation-building and race-making were intertwined and how … the Metis shaped both.” (8) “The experiences of these borderland Metis communities,” he continues, “therefore offer a fresh perspective on the political, economic, and environmental transformations that re-worked the Northern Plains across the nineteenth century.” (9) And finally, he states how the book “offers a (partial) corrective to those who would focus solely on race by drawing attention to the historical circumstances that gave rise to the Metis emergence as an autonomous people … and to the resilience and persistence of such notions.” (19) Those are noble objectives, but it is fair to assess how well they are achieved in this study. Along the way, Hogue gives special attention to how the Metis developed “mobile communities” (7) in the borderlands, how they negotiated “racialized markers of belonging,” and how they created a “hybrid borderland world” (10) and “an interethnic landscape.” (20) And more than theoretical labels here, these kinds of terms help to define Hogue’s message of Metis resilience and agency and set up the book’s themes well in the Introduction.

At that point Metis and the Medicine Line is divided into five chapters, all with cleverly developed action noun signposts as main title markers. The first chapter, “Emergence: Creating a Metis Borderland” discusses the importance of the Metis bison economy and trade and how the Metis used that for border marking. Chapter 2, “Exchange: Trade, Sovereignty, and the Forty-Ninth Parallel,” explores the Metis role in the “growing salience of the 49th parallel” (55) and how they came to negotiate it for their benefit. Chapter 2, “Exchange: Trade, Sovereignty, and the 49th Parallel,” explores the Metis role in the “growing salience of the 49th parallel” (55) and how they came to negotiate it for their benefit. Chapter 3, “Belonging: Land, Treaties, and the Boundaries of Race,” gets into the more difficult business of trying to explain the complexity of Metis racial identity (and especially with the concept of “racial marking”) and continues to address the bison economy (especially as that came to change with the different degrees of bison decline on opposite sides of the US-Canadian border. In what I consider to be one of the book’s greatest strengths, Hogue provides excellent analyses of the Metis role in Plains geopolitics – not only in their dealings with the US and Canadian governments, but also with other Indigenous groups throughout the Northern Plains. The fourth chapter, “Resistance: Dismantling Plains Borderlands Settlements, 1879-1885,” gets into some comparative discussion of US and Canadian policies on Native peoples, offers more on border diplomacy, and reiterates the role of Louis Riel in all of this history. Likewise, for the Metis on the Canadian side of the line, it provides excellent analysis on “symbols of economic re-orientation.” (172) And finally, Chapter 5, “Exile: Scrip and Enrollment Commissions and the Shifting of Boundaries and Belongings,” is a bit more complicated and perhaps unnecessarily too detailed (the only place in the book I thought so) on the history of the scrip use by Metis peoples in Canada. This chapter seems like more of a stand-alone…

Read or purchase the review here.

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Long Time Passing

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-05-09 14:22Z by Steven

Long Time Passing

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2009-01-23

Amy Finnerty

Baz Dreisinger, Near Black: White-to-Black Passing in American Culture (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008).

How black is Eminem? How white is our president? We can’t help asking these awkward questions as we digest “Near Black,” by Baz Dreisinger. A freelance journalist and an assistant professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, she explores cases of “reverse racial passing” — as distinct from the more conventional, black-as-white “passing,” for so long a feature of our tortured society. Presenting “narratives about white people who either envision themselves or are envisioned by others as being or becoming black,” and drawing on examples ranging from Twain’sPudd’nhead Wilson” to the sophomoric genre film “Soul Man,” she argues that the appropriation of black identity by whites — both literally and metaphorically — has been a potent strain in American culture for centuries.

The term “white passing” is broadly defined here. A white journalist with dyed skin infiltrating black precincts and writing about it is passing. So is a “jive-slanging” white D.J. A white immigrant sold into slavery in the early 19th century (a case of “coerced passing”) also has a place in Dreisinger’s compendium of racial mix-ups, satires and cautionary tales…

Read the entire review here.

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‘Ladivine,’ by Marie NDiaye

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-05-09 13:34Z by Steven

‘Ladivine,’ by Marie NDiaye

Book Review
The New York Times
2016-05-05

Patrick McGrath

LADIVINE
By Marie NDiaye
Translated by Jordan Stump
276 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95.

Marie NDiaye is the author of more than a dozen plays and works of fiction. Currently living in Berlin, having left France in 2009, by her own account in disgust at Nicolas Sarkozy’s election to the presidency, she is the daughter of a French mother and a Senegalese father. As yet, she is little known in this country, although at least four of her previous books — including “Three Strong Women,” which won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt, and “Rosie Carpe,” winner of the Prix Femina — have been translated into English.

NDiaye’s new novel, “Ladivine,” has been elegantly translated by Jordan Stump. It is a work of immense power and mystery, an account of four generations of women, the first of whom, Ladivine Sylla, immigrates from a tropical third-world country to France, where she works as a house cleaner. Her daughter, Malinka, is ashamed of her. As a teenager, Malinka heightens the natural pallor of her face with makeup in order to pass for white, and later she reinvents herself as Clarisse, finding a French husband and taking his name, becoming Clarisse Rivière. She visits her mother in secret, allowing no contact with either her husband or her daughter. This ambivalent relationship is one she both sustains and repudiates…

Read the entire review here.

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Race & Racisms: A Critical Approach [Gabriel Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science, Teaching Resources on 2016-05-04 21:09Z by Steven

Race & Racisms: A Critical Approach [Gabriel Review]

Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach (New York, London: Oxford University Press, 2014)

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Published online before print 2016-04-22
DOI: 10.1177/2332649216645801

Ricardo Gabriel
The Graduate Center
City University of New York

Explaining to students that race is a social construction is one of the biggest challenges faced by all who teach courses on race and ethnicity, humble adjuncts and seasoned professors alike. Furthermore, the constructed and fabricated aspects of race must be balanced with how race and racism have shaped, and continue to shape, our society in concrete ways. Is race “real”? Does systemic racism still exist, or didn’t the civil rights movement take care of all of that? How can there still be racism if we elected a Black president? What about personal responsibility? Even if racism does exist, what can we do about it? These are just some of the questions that typically arise when discussing race and racism in the classroom. How do we explain the continued prevalence of racial inequality in the twenty-first century, in a society that some claim is now “post-“racial? And how do we discuss these issues with students in a way that both stretches their sociological imaginations and encourages a racial justice praxis?

Golash-Boza’s brief edition of Race & Racisms: A Critical Approach takes up this important challenge. Written for the undergraduate*level instructor, its main objective is to “engage students in significant questions related to racial dynamics in the United States and around the world.” From beginning to end. Golash-Boza provides a balanced mix of empirical data, rich theory, and personal narratives as well as useful pedagogical features such as the “Thinking about Racial Justice” sections that facilitate critical thinking.

Chapter 1 provides a concise summary of the scholarship on the origin of the idea that humans can be separated into different racial categories. The greatest strength of this opening chapter is the way it sets the tone for the rest of the book by emphasizing that racial taxonomy and racial ideologies were invented as a justification for colonialism, genocide. and slavery…

Read or purchase the review here.

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