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.

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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.

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

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

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

The Guardian
2015-03-17

Michael W. Twitty

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

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

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

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

Read the entire article here.

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Kaleidoscope: Redrawing an American Family Tree

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Mississippi, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2015-03-13 19:37Z by Steven

Kaleidoscope: Redrawing an American Family Tree

University of Arkansas Press
2015-06-01
140 pages
10 images
6″ x 9″
Paper ISBN: 978-1-55728-815-8

Margaret Jones Bolsterli, Emeritus Professor
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

In 2005 Margaret Jones Bolsterli learned that her great-great-grandfather was a free mulatto named Jordan Chavis, who owned an antebellum plantation near Vicksburg, Mississippi. The news was a shock; Bolsterli had heard about the plantation in family stories told during her Arkansas Delta childhood, but Chavis’s name and race had never been mentioned. With further exploration Bolsterli found that when Chavis’s children crossed the Mississippi River between 1859 and 1875 for exile in Arkansas, they passed into the white world, leaving the family’s racial history completely behind.

Kaleidoscope is the story of this discovery, and it is the story, too, of the rise and fall of the Chavis fortunes in Mississippi, from the family’s first appearance on a frontier farm in 1829 to ownership of over a thousand acres and the slaves to work them by 1860. Bolsterli learns that in the 1850s, when all free colored people were ordered to leave Mississippi or be enslaved, Jordan Chavis’s white neighbors successfully petitioned the legislature to allow him to remain, unmolested, even as three of his sons and a daughter moved to Arkansas and Illinois. She learns about the agility with which the old man balanced on a tightrope over chaos to survive the war and then take advantage of the opportunities of newly awarded citizenship during Reconstruction. The story ends with the family’s loss of everything in the 1870s, after one of the exiled sons returns to Mississippi to serve in the Reconstruction legislature and a grandson attempts unsuccessfully to retain possession of the land. In Kaleidoscope, long-silenced truths are revealed, inviting questions about how attitudes toward race might have been different in the family and in America if the truth about this situation and thousands of others like it could have been told before.

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A clerical correspondent writes us from the Southern coast protesting against the rapid tendency to amalgamation…

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-03-03 21:59Z by Steven

A clerical correspondent writes us from the Southern coast protesting against the rapid tendency to amalgamation…

Franklin Repository
1863-12-09
page 4, column 4

Source: Valley of the Shadow: Civil War Era Newspapers, University of Virginia Library

A clerical correspondent writes us from the Southern coast protesting against the rapid tendency to amalgamation. He says that he has been called upon to perform the marriage service repeatedly where the bride was mulatto, quadroon or octoroon, and he calls upon Congress to arrest this unnatural mingling of the races, which, to use his own language, “threatens the annihilation of the white race in the United States.”

We beg our correspondent to quiet his fears on the subject. He cites some half a dozen cases to vindicate his apprehensions; but not one of them presents the union of a northern man with the southern negress. All the happy grooms were either southerners or foreigners, and they have been adopting no novel social system. Slavery has never fastened its desolation on any land without carrying the social evil of amalgamation with it; and the crime has been peculiar to the chivalric and opulent rather than to the lowly. Had our correspondent cast a thought as to the origin of the mulatto, quadroon and octoroon brides of whom he speaks, he might have cherished a reasonable suspicion that amalgamation is not just dawning upon the world, but has blotted and blurred the whole social organization of the South ever since slavery came with its endless train of crime.

In the North, where the negro race is free and not the legitimate prey of a brutal master’s lust, amalgamation is very rare, and embraces only the most abandoned of both sexes; and we regard the destruction of Slavery as the only hope of dealing a death-blow to that unnatural evil. Slavery has been its parent, its shield, its apologist and stripped it of its hideous moral deformity by bringing virtuous wives and daughters and sensual sons in daily contact with it; and when its great foundation is destroyed, the whole structure of social pollution will fall with it. The remedy is not in Congress, but in the moral tone of the people, and that seems to be progressing well toward a better and brighter Nationality, free from the blistering stains of both legalized and lawless mingling of the distance races of the Continent.

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Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2015-02-24 21:59Z by Steven

Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South

University of North Carolina Press
February 2015
232 pages
6.125 x 9.25
11 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-2187-6

Barbara Krauthamer, Associate Professor of History
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

From the late eighteenth century through the end of the Civil War, Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians bought, sold, and owned Africans and African Americans as slaves, a fact that persisted after the tribes’ removal from the Deep South to Indian Territory. The tribes formulated racial and gender ideologies that justified this practice and marginalized free black people in the Indian nations well after the Civil War and slavery had ended. Through the end of the nineteenth century, ongoing conflicts among Choctaw, Chickasaw, and U.S. lawmakers left untold numbers of former slaves and their descendants in the two Indian nations without citizenship in either the Indian nations or the United States. In this groundbreaking study, Barbara Krauthamer rewrites the history of southern slavery, emancipation, race, and citizenship to reveal the centrality of Native American slaveholders and the black people they enslaved.

Krauthamer’s examination of slavery and emancipation highlights the ways Indian women’s gender roles changed with the arrival of slavery and changed again after emancipation and reveals complex dynamics of race that shaped the lives of black people and Indians both before and after removal.

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EIHS Lecture: “Partus Sequitur Ventrem: Slave Law and the History of Women in Slavery”

Posted in History, Law, Live Events, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2015-02-04 18:42Z by Steven

EIHS Lecture: “Partus Sequitur Ventrem: Slave Law and the History of Women in Slavery”

Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies
University of Michigan
1014 Tisch Hall
435 South State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1003
2015-02-05, 16:00-18:00 CST (Local Time)

Jennifer L. Morgan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, History
New York University

In 1662, legislators in the Virginia Colony passed a law that determined that, in the matter of sex between free English men and “negro women,” the legal condition of the child should follow that of the mother. Long understood as the law that codified hereditary racial slavery, this code reassured slaveowning settlers that, in the matter of enslaved people, enslaveability devolved through the mother: Partus Sequitur Ventrem or, literally, “offspring follows belly.” In this paper I ask how this legislative intervention might have been perceived by enslaved women and men in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Atlantic.

Jennifer L. Morgan is the author of Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in the Making of New World Slavery (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). Her research examines the intersections of gender and race in colonial America. She is currently a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton where she is at work on a project that considers colonial numeracy, racism, and the rise of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the seventeenth-century English Atlantic, tentatively titled Accounting for the Women in Slavery. She is Professor of History in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and the Department of History at New York University and lives in New York City.

Free and open to the public…

For more information, click here.

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Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru by Rachel Sarah O’Toole (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery on 2015-01-25 17:53Z by Steven

Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru by Rachel Sarah O’Toole (review)

Journal of Social History
Volume 48, Number 2, Winter 2014
pages 465-466

Erick D. Langer, Professor of Latin American History
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

O’Toole, Rachel Sarah, Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).

The presence of Africans and their descendants is much more important than often realized in Peru. During the colonial period, tens of thousands of Africans were forced to cross the isthmus at Panama City and be sold as slaves in Peru. Even today, the rhythms of chicha, a combination of African and indigenous sounds, resonate in popular Peruvian music. The famous Peruvian cuisine was forged with important ingredients of European, Andean and African food heritages (as well as the nineteenth-century Chinese influences). More than anywhere else in the Andean region, African culture has melded with that of the Andes.

Rachel O’Toole documents Andean and African contributions to colonial society in the northern Peruvian coast during the seventeenth century. She breaks new ground by reexamining the interactions between Andeans and Africans and also explores how Andean peoples became “Indians” and Africans became “blacks.” The supposition, based on Spanish sources, had been that Africans were the enemies of the Indians, since they had more in common with their masters and abused the Andeans when they entered indigenous villages. However, O’Toole shows that that was not necessarily the case; Andeans and Africans interacted in many ways, including helping each other, intermarrying, being godparents to each other, and maintaining intense commercial relations.

Most of all, O’Toole emphasizes the new legal environment in Peru, where Africans became a legal category, a type of casta, that made human beings from Africa into merchandise and flattened out as much as possible the slaves’ diverse origins on the African continent. The Indians in turn came into a different category, of people who, according to the Spanish, were vulnerable to black castas and who enjoyed greater protections and higher legal status than people of African descent. She uses the metaphor of location to position each group into its respective legal category and how that changed over time.

After dealing with African-Andean interactions and the creation of the legal positions of each group, the author takes the last three chapters to delineate not so much the interactions between the two, but rather the making of the “Indian” category (Chapter 3) and the slave category (Chapter 2) within the casta system, which reified racial categories and created the divisions between the races. In the case of the Indians, she focuses on land and water, while for slaves she zeroes in on labor conditions. As O’Toole notes, “casta did the work of race” (164). Within the colonial system, this permitted Spaniards to divide and rule based on the differing regulations each category of human being, whether Spaniard, Indian, or black casta, had to follow. O’Toole takes to task in the conclusion of her book the towering seventeenth-century work of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala and his negative perception of Africans. Guaman Poma, an indigenous nobleman, wrote a 1,189 page missive to the Spanish king, in which he complained about abuses against the indigenous population, especially that of the Africans. O’Toole asserts that this opinion is much too negative an assessment and that “Africans and their descendants were central to the making of the colonial Andes” (161).

This book is an important addition to the field because for the first time it focuses on the complex relationships between indigenous peoples and Africans in a central region of the Spanish empire. O’Toole also fruitfully used legal documents to “read along the grain” (66) to understand the construction of the Indian categories, centering on the judicial performances of Andeans, who consciously chose laws that favored their positions. This follows work done by many other scholars of the colonial Andes to further refine how the diverse indigenous peoples ended up in a flattened category of “Indian.” The creation of the Indian category paralleled what happened to the Africans through their experience of slavery, as the author makes clear.

Using the northern Peruvian coast as the case study for understanding the interaction between Andeans and Africans has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, this was the Andean region where the majority of Africans were imported and so there is enough evidence to document the relations between the two groups. On the other hand, the…

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Oxherding Tale: A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2015-01-22 00:04Z by Steven

Oxherding Tale: A Novel

Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
1982
208 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780743264495
eBook ISBN: 9780743277419

Charles Johnson, Pollock Professor of English
University of Washington, Seattle

One night in the antebellum South, a slave owner and his African-American butler stay up to all hours until, too drunk to face their wives, they switch places in each other’s beds. The result is a hilarious imbroglio and an offspring — Andrew Hawkins, whose life becomes Oxherding Tale.

Through sexual escapades, picaresque adventures, and philosophical inquiry, Hawkins navigates white and black worlds and comments wryly on human nature along the way. Told with pure genius, Oxherding Tale is a deliciously funny, bitterly ironic account of slavery, racism, and the human spirit; and it reveals the author as a great talent with even greater humanity.

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Slavery before Race: Europeans, Africans, and Indians at Long Island’s Sylvester Manor Plantation, 1651-1884

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2015-01-18 02:42Z by Steven

Slavery before Race: Europeans, Africans, and Indians at Long Island’s Sylvester Manor Plantation, 1651-1884

New York University Press
238 pages
April 2013
Hardback ISBN: 9780814785775
Paperback ISBN: 9781479802227

Katherine Howlett Hayes, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Minnesota

The study of slavery in the Americas generally assumes a basic racial hierarchy: Africans or those of African descent are usually the slaves, and white people usually the slaveholders. In this unique interdisciplinary work of historical archaeology, anthropologist Katherine Hayes draws on years of fieldwork on Shelter Island’s Sylvester Manor to demonstrate how racial identity was constructed and lived before plantation slavery was racialized by the legal codification of races.

Using the historic Sylvester Manor Plantation site turned archaeological dig as a case study, Hayes draws on artifacts and extensive archival material to present a rare picture of northern slavery on one of the North’s first plantations. The Manor was built in the mid-17th century by British settler Nathaniel Sylvester, whose family owned Shelter Island until the early 18th century and whose descendants still reside in the Manor House. There, as Hayes demonstrates, white settlers, enslaved Africans, and Native Americans worked side by side. While each group played distinct roles on the Manor and in the larger plantation economy of which Shelter Island was part, their close collaboration and cohabitation was essential for the Sylvester family’s economic and political power in the Atlantic Northeast. Through the lens of social memory and forgetting, this study addresses the significance of Sylvester Manor’s plantation history to American attitudes about diversity, Indian land politics, slavery and Jim Crow, in tension with idealized visions of white colonial community.

Contents

  • List of Figures and Table
  • Acknowledgments
  • Prologue
  • 1 Tracing a Racialized History
  • 2 Convergence
  • 3 Building and Destroying
  • 4 Objects of Interaction
  • 5 Forgetting to Remember, Remembering to Forget
  • 6 Unimagining Communities
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author
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