Here, There, and In Between: Travel as Metaphor in Mixed Race Narratives of the Harlem Renaissance

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-11 00:23Z by Steven

Here, There, and In Between: Travel as Metaphor in Mixed Race Narratives of the Harlem Renaissance

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
2014-05-09

Colin Enriquez
English Department

Created to comment on Antebellum and Reconstruction literature, the tragic mulatto concept is habitually applied to eras beyond the 19th century. The tragic mulatto has become an end rather than a means to questioning racist and abolitionist agendas. Rejecting the pathetic and self-destructive traits inscribed by the tragic label, this dissertation uses geographic, cultural, and racial boundary crossing to theorize a rereading of mixed race characters in Harlem Renaissance literature. Focusing on train, automobile, and boat travel, the study analyzes the relationship between the character, transportation, and technology whereby the notion of race is questioned. Furthermore, the dissertation divides travel into departure, interstitial, and arrival phases. With the ability to extend perception and experience, media is also interpreted here as transportation. Using figurative and literal travel, the selected narratives move between localities to allegorize 20th mixed race subjectivity. Socially ambiguous and anonymous, interstitial moments suspend the normative performance of race and enable the selected authors’ investigations of race binarism. After the introduction establishes a theoretical frame composed of transnational and migration studies methods, the ensuing chapters demonstrate the interpretive function of travel in Jean Toomer’s Cane, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, and Walter White’s Flight. This reading is aided by the connection between modernism and mixed race identity as expounded upon in the works of Robert E. Park, Mark Whalan, Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, Jeanne Scheper. However, it differs from these in its assertion of travel as an interpretive mode for mixed race literature as a tradition.

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Growing Up On Burritos and Black-Eyed Peas: An Autoethnography of Multiracial Identity Development

Posted in Autobiography, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2014-11-01 21:40Z by Steven

Growing Up On Burritos and Black-Eyed Peas: An Autoethnography of Multiracial Identity Development

Georgia State University
2014-05-16
210 pages

Marie Castro Bruner

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Teaching and Learning in the Department of Middle-Secondary Education in the College of Education Georgia State University

The immigration debate is not new to the United States; however, today’s heated discussions include strong anti-Mexican sentiments (Bean & Stone, 2012; Hughey, 2012). As Americans attempt to secure borders in an effort to insure safety and economic security, current legislation includes elements of racial profiling against Mexicans that could extend to those who possess varying levels of Mexican blood since physical characteristics tend to guide racial labeling (Aoki & Johnson, 2009; Bernal, 2002; Fernandez, 2002; Quiñones et al, 2011). As an individual of Mexican and White bloodlines, racial categorization has resulted in internal struggles and social dilemmas for me.

The purpose of this dissertation was to gain understanding of my personal multiracial identity development within various social contexts; this study fulfills the requests of theorists seeking to understand multiracial identity development through self-analysis over a lifetime (Binning et al, 2009; Charmaraman & Grossman, 2010; Cheng & Lee, 2009; Miville et al, 2005). This qualitative dissertation used critical autoethnography as its methodology and theories of multiracial identity (Poston, 1990; Root, 1996; Rockquemore, Brunsma, & Delgado, 2009) and LatCrit (Aoki & Johnson, 2008; Solórzano & Bernal, 2001; Tate, 1997; Valdes, 1997; Villalpando, 2004; Yosso, 2005) while considering the impact of Whiteness Studies (Jay, 2005; Jeffries, 2012; Yeung, Spanierman & Landrum-Brown, 2013), and the cultural process of naming (Boris, 2005). The research questions guiding this dissertation were: How have I internalized and interpreted encounters related to racial identification, and what does being multiracial mean to me?

The presentation of findings included narrative analysis of visual and audio data sets located on a personal website that accompanies this study; online presentation of this study provides an opportunity to explore multiracial identity development in a space that has potential for impacting change due to popularity and accessibility (Bamford, 2005; Lang, 2002; Lange, 2008). Findings revealed complexities and fluidity in multiracial identity development as well as problems of self-identifying as monoracial. The significance of this study is that it will contribute to ongoing discussions of multiracial identity development as well as add to the growing body of literature related to LatCrit Theory, Whiteness Studies, and autoethnographic studies.

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“I am on the Coloured Side”: The Roles of the White Suitor and the Black Mother in the Tragic Mulatta Narrative

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-27 19:56Z by Steven

“I am on the Coloured Side”: The Roles of the White Suitor and the Black Mother in the Tragic Mulatta Narrative

University of Massachusetts at Amherst
2013

Shannon D. Luders Manuel

What I propose to add to the already established dialogue regarding the tragic mulatta narrative is an investigation into the commonalities of the genre’s endings, as well as to assert that the tragic mulatta genre is present even at the turn of the 21st century with such works as Danzy Senna’s Caucasia. While my investigation by no means covers an exhaustive list of tragic mulatta narratives, the readings provide an overview of the ways in which the narrative has both evolved over time and stayed consistent during the antebellum, post-bellum, Harlem Renaissance, and the present day. I present each author as both building from previous authors’ works and as limited to the time period in which he or she pens the novel(s).

The tragic mulatta of the post-bellum rejected white male suitors as a larger and more crucial rejection of sexual slavery and depravity, as well as attempting to shield the suitors from experiencing rejection from their own white contemporaries, as Angela does at the end of Plum Bun: “But I want you to know that from now on, so far as sides are concerned, I am on the coloured side. And I don’t want you to come over on that side” (373). However, the tragic mulattas continue to reject white male suitors even into the 21st century, and I assert that this repetition is limiting both to the characters themselves and to the narrative lives of contemporary mulatta readers. I further assert that the genre continues to pair rejection of the white male suitor with a reappropriation of true “blackness” and maternal domesticity. Through observing the tragic mulatta’s need to gain identity and sense of place through her darker mother or sister and the rejection of a white male suitor, tragic mulatta scholars—as well as critical race theorists in general—become more aware of the unique position the genre holds in identity formation as seen through what I believe are critical fictional texts for an interracial nation.

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“What Are You?” Multiracial Identity and the Persistence of Racism in a “Post-Racial” Society

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-27 18:30Z by Steven

“What Are You?” Multiracial Identity and the Persistence of Racism in a “Post-Racial” Society

University of Virginia
2014

Hephzibah Virginia Strmic-Pawl

In 2000, and for the first time, the U.S. Census allowed individuals to “mark one or more” races, and now the U.S. Census projects that those who choose two or more races will triple by 2050. The occurrence of the “biracial baby boom,” a new post-racial ideology, and the election of the first Black (or biracial depending on one’s categorization) U.S. president have led to great hopes for a nation where race no longer matters.

On the other hand, there is persistent discrimination including wide disparities in education, wealth, and employment. Thus, does multiracialism signify that society’s race relations are improving and that we are deconstructing racial categories and racism? Or, does multiracialism naively overlook the continuing vestiges of race and racism and merely reify “race” in efforts to defend the recognition and experiences of those who are “mixed race?”

Through a study of 70 people of mixed-race descent, I seek an answer to this debate. I ask: how does multiracial identity manifest itself and align with and/or contest the current racial hierarchy? I find 67 of the 70 respondents do prefer a multiracial identity, a preference that reveals the coherence of multiracialism and its ability to challenge the racial hierarchy. Yet, much of this dissertation is dedicated to the differences in experiences of Asian-Whites and Black-Whites. The majority of the Asian-Whites have close White friends and networks, have few experiences and perceptions of racism, and have a color-blind approach to racism. By comparison, BlackWhites are more likely to be aligned with Black networks and Blackness, experience and perceive racism to be a significant problem, and expend significant effort navigating their race.

This project, then, has two main findings: 1) those of mixed-race descent are choosing to identify with both races and 2) the continuing significance of race and racism leads to markedly different narratives for those of Asian and White descent compared to those of Black and White descent. Thus, multiracialism has validity yet is limited in its ability to move the discussion forward on race, for it relies on race in order to defy race.

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The Black, British Atlantic: Blackness in Victorian Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-10-27 18:18Z by Steven

The Black, British Atlantic: Blackness in Victorian Literature

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2014

Donghee Om

My dissertation is about transnational aspects of the Victorian era from the vantage point of what Paul Gilroy described more than two decades ago as the “black Atlantic.” Looking at various ways in which the black Atlantic was at times a British Atlantic, my dissertation aims to complicate a flow of discussion that Gilroy’s Americanist successors have interpreted largely in light of U.S. slavery and its discursive contexts. Specifically, I explore how some nineteenth-century British authors such as Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mary Seacole, and Wilkie Collins rejected popular notions of blackness as a racial marker of African slavery with its implied negative qualities. Instead, their works convey a different idea about blackness as a pliable marker of cultural agency that not only constitutes a part of English culture, but is performed by people regardless of racial affiliation. This notion of blackness as performative signifier goes beyond the slavery metaphor in Victorian literature to frame an interpretive paradigm that allows us to read blackness in broader socio-political contexts.

As I show how canonical and non-canonical nineteenth-century British literature used various kinds of black performativity to undo essentialist notions of blackness, race, and identity itself, I demonstrate the integral status of blackness in Victorian literature. This in turn points to nineteenth-century English culture not as an isolated entity that imposed itself on Africans and on slave-owning colonies of the British Empire, but as participant in a larger cultural network called the black Atlantic. The black Atlantic thus invites us to revise British literature and culture by questioning the assumed homogeneity of white-centrism and even the stability of whiteness itself as foundational for English identity.

In the first chapter, I look at how Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) and Persuasion (1818) engage blackness without featuring a single black or mixed-race character. Reading this absence as literary strategy, I argue that the two novels reject the popular view of blackness as too restrictively applied to oppression and marginalization, and associate it instead with women’s autonomy and social participation in an era of heightened debate over slavery following the 1807 Slave Trade Act. Here blackness comes to represent an ethically viable form of women’s autonomy that doesn’t necessarily unsettle the established social order even as it challenges the mercantile logic of sexual hierarchy represented by the corrupt marriage market. In fact, by validating women’s autonomy in the context of middle-class ethics, Austen suggests that such autonomy is a prerequisite of social stability.

Chapter two explores how Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s three antislavery poems—“The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” (1847/1848), “Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave” (1850), and “A Curse for a Nation” (1855/1866)—extend beyond the issue of American slavery to address British racism. Representing blackness as a signifier of artistic creativity, the poems aesthetically challenge essentialist notions of black inferiority in a mid-Victorian society troubled by post-abolition economic decline and colonial unrest in the British West Indies. EBB’s antislavery poems thus work to liberate blackness from the chains of racial essentialism and draw on black performativity to expand the language of the poet’s social criticism.

Chapter three investigates Mary Seacole’s performative identity in her travel narrative, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857). Knowing her Victorian readers will be predisposed to read her mixed-race body as a marker of otherness, Seacole plays with their belief in ways that de-essentialize race: first, she disrupts whiteness as a racial signifier ontologically grounded in skin color by portraying her successful performance of the idealized English mother in the Crimea. Seacole then represents her physical “blackness” as a marker of life-saving hybrid medicine, a cultural signifier that revises racist notions of identity. In the process, she exposes Englishness as an unstable marker of identity that can be performed by people of different races.

Chapter four considers how Wilkie Collins problematizes binaristic notions of race in Armadale (1866), Miss or Mrs? (1873), and The Guilty River (1886). Collins’s radical reevaluations of racial others vis-à-vis Englishness and Britishness come at a time when a series of colonial uprisings like the Indian “Mutiny” and the Morant Bay rebellion exacerbated the growing acceptance of permanent racial hierarchies (as opposed to the older notion of eventual human universality). Armadale emphasizes blackness as a marker of sympathy—the essential element of English morality seldom seen in the author’s time. Affirming blackness as the moral essence of Englishness, Miss or Mrs? and The Guilty River reflect Collins’s growing frustration with the way a kind of binaristic thinking he challenged in Armadale continued to thrive in English society. These texts ultimately call for understanding English identity as an ongoing expression of inter-racial, inter-cultural reciprocity.

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Another layer of blackness: theorizing race, ethnicity, and identity in the U.S. black public sphere

Posted in Barack Obama, Dissertations, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-24 18:13Z by Steven

Another layer of blackness: theorizing race, ethnicity, and identity in the U.S. black public sphere

University of Iowa
2013
277 pages

Patrick B. Oray

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in American Studies in the Graduate College of The University of Iowa

While many studies of U.S. immigration highlight the diversity within other racial and ethnic groups, scholarly attention to the significance of ethnicity among black people in this country is still sorely underdeveloped. This dissertation project explores how black identities are constructed not only through the prism of race in the U.S. context, but also through other social dynamics that operate “in the shadow of race,” such as differences in class, color, country of origin, and circumstances of migration. Instead of a singular black identity fueled by our political discourses and popular culture, my project treats “blackness” as a floating signifier that is constructed both within the racial organization of the U.S. nation-state and among the peoples of the black diaspora within its borders. In short, blackness is a matter that has become national, international, and transnational in scope.

Ethnicity and its implications for how we think about black identity and group representation in U.S. society is the other “layer of blackness” this dissertation addresses. The formation and reshaping of American identity among various immigrant groups have historically involved complicated relationships between race and ethnicity, two concepts scholars have used to articulate group identities in the U.S. The history of U.S. racial and ethnic relations reveals the complicated processes through which some social groups have been able to establish their place in the American mainstream by adapting to the cultural and institutional norms established by mainstream white society. Non-white immigrant groups have been forced to find their American identities on the margins of U.S. society because of their purported inability or unwillingness to assimilate to established cultural and institutional norms. Sometimes this alienation from the American mainstream takes on a purely racial dimension. At other times, the prejudices of U.S. society are directed at particular ethnic groups.

But in spite of the status ascribed to them, these immigrants have also proven to be empowered agents in their implicit and explicit critiques of the U.S.’s social order. Historically, non-white immigrants in the U.S. have demonstrated the power to question, disrupt, and resist cultural and institutional forms of discrimination even as they are incorporated into them.

My interrogation of black ethnic identity and what it brings to bear on how we define blackness in the U.S. begins by asking what cultural capital black immigrants bring with them in their sojourn to America rather than assuming what is lost in the process of their incorporation into U.S. race relations. Patterns of immigration, return migration and circular migration that have come to characterize the experience of many foreign-born blacks in the U.S., as well as the circulation of ideas, culture, and history between sending and receiving countries are all issues germane to the process of black immigrant incorporation and black ethnic identity in the U.S. As such, the argument I proffer in my dissertation project is this: because of the myriad processes at play in formulating black racial and ethnic identities in America (i.e., historically established structures of race as well as an unprecedented surge in foreign-born black migration this country)-how we define blackness in the U.S. context is more fruitfully theorized as a matter that is at once national, international, and transnational in scope. It is at the nexus of these fronts that the historical and cultural constructions of blackness are currently defined among the diversity of black people in the U.S.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • I. BLACK LIKE WHOM?: AN INTRODUCTION TO RACE, CLASS, AND ETHNICITY IN THE UNITED STATES BLACK PUBLIC SPHERE
    • 1.1 Ethnicity as “Another Layer of Blackness”
    • 1.2 Theorizing the U.S. Black Public Sphere
    • 1.3 Uncovering an Ethnic Layer of Blackness in the U.S. Black Public Sphere
  • II. “NO BOOTBLACK HAITIANS:” BLACK COSMOPOLITAN CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE U.S. OCCUPATION OF HAITI (1915-1934)
    • 2.1 The Roots of Black Cosmopolitan Consciousness in the U.S.: The African-American Press Response to the Occupation
    • 2.2 Cosmopolitanism and the U.S. Black Public Sphere: The Occupation, The New Negro Movement, and the Harlem Renaissance
    • 2.3 The Limits of Cosmopolitanism in the U.S. Black Public Sphere
  • III. SOMEWHERE BETWEEN “BROTHERS” AND “OTHERS” (REPRISE): AFRICAN-AMERICANS, BLACK IMMIGRANTS, AND THE POLITICS OF PLACE
    • 3.1 African Americans and the Transformation of the “Chocolate City” of Oakland, California
    • 3.2 “Challenges to “Umoja” (Unity): The Close Encounters of Black Americans and Black Immigrants in Oakland
    • 3.3 The “Blues City” Finds a New Identity“
  • IV. RACE AND REPRESENTATIONS OF BLACKNESS IN THE ERA OF OBAMA
    • 4.1 Obama’s Presidential Conceit: A “Black Man” Who is Also “Everyman”
    • 4.2 “Articulate, Bright, and Clean”: Barack Obama and the Melodrama of Blackness in Campaign ‘08
    • 4.3 Obama Walks the Tightrope Between “Race” and “Nation”
  • V. CONCLUSION: W(H)ITHER THE BLACK PUBLIC SPHERE?: RACE, ETHNICITY AND IDENTITY IN THE ERA OF OBAMA
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Black, White, or Mixed: Identity Formation and Choice Among Black-White Biracial Individuals

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-18 20:32Z by Steven

Black, White, or Mixed: Identity Formation and Choice Among Black-White Biracial Individuals

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
2014-08-02
82 pages

Madison Alayne Hinton

A thesis submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Auburn University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

Identity is a term that is difficult to define, yet every human being has one. It is a strong indicator of how people will act and defines them in an important way and is a reflection of one’s self and self-understanding. Identity is an important aspect for all humans, but it is an especially interesting trait when describing biracial individuals due to their multiracial background. The biracial demographic is growing quickly from that of the past, so it is important that their unique situation be researched. This study explores the family influence on biracial identity choice by gathering data using both a questionnaire and a focus group. The findings concluded family does have a significant, yet indirect, impact on the racial identity choice of their biracial children by encouraging individuality and allowing the person to choose their racial category themselves.

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Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Oceania on 2014-08-18 18:37Z by Steven

Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

University of Sydney
2014
243 pages

Lyn Sue Dickens

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

This thesis examines the extent to which three contemporary Australian novels can be regarded as interventions in “the modern racial imaginary” (Mignolo 2011a, p. 277). In order to analyse the novels as interventions, this thesis looks in particular at depictions and conceptualisations of mixed race subjectivity and experience in the texts. The novels, The World Waiting to be Made by Simone Lazaroo (1994), Shanghai Dancing by Brian Castro (2003) and The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser (2007) all explore mixed subjectivities and experiences in the Asia-Pacific region. Throughout this thesis I examine the complexity and disruptive potential of the concept of ‘mixed race’. I argue that through the depiction of people of mixed race and their traumatic experiences of racialisation, the novels critique, resist and disrupt concepts of race and colonial worldviews.

I further explore the ways in which the novels both promote and exemplify alternative ways of perceiving and interacting with other human beings that do not rely on racial categories or the humanitas/anthropos divide (Mignolo 2011b, p. 90). In order to do this I draw on Walter Mignolo’s concepts of border thinking/sensing and delinking, and Édouard Glissant’s work in The Poetics of Relation. I argue that critical examination of mixed race subjectivity and representation, in conjunction with transcultural concepts such as Relation and border thinking, provide a means of both challenging traditional concepts of race and essentialised cultures, and thinking beyond their boundaries. Furthermore, the novels themselves open up a transcultural space with transformative potential, which encourages the imagination of alternative, more equal worlds of Relation.

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Who cares about mixed race? Care experiences of young people in an inner city borough

Posted in Dissertations, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2014-08-18 17:33Z by Steven

Who cares about mixed race? Care experiences of young people in an inner city borough

Goldsmiths, University of London
April 2010
280 pages

Fiona Virginia Peters

A thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of PhD Sociology Goldsmiths, University of London

This thesis is an engagement with the care experiences of mixed young people, to produce knowledge of how care processes, mediated though the private foster family, impact on their lives. It begins with an examination of the relationship between the mixed classification and care, and continues through a discussion of race, race mixing and the family. The study then examines methodologically how the mixed classification operates in social work through a discussion of racialisation and its impact on the care trajectory of young people. Further, it engages with long-standing debates over why young people with a mixed classification are more likely to be significantly represented in care. The empirical chapters are comprised of the narrative accounts and visual representations of the young people and their experiences in care.

A highly participatory research methodology paid critical attention to the narratives of mixed young people in care between the ages of 12-20 years, as research participants, in order to engage and elicit rich detail about their care experiences. An innovative mixedmethod approach emerged in part from their specific circumstances and led to new ways to research with and understand young people who live in circumstances of instability often characterised by crisis.

This thesis engages with the care experiences of the participants to reveal how the discursive repertoires of mixedness and their application through care processes impacts on lives. Each empirical chapter is presented as an individual case study that examines the experiences of a single participant in order to interrogate care practices in relation to mixedness. The themes to emerge centre around family, relationality, professional intervention, classification and identification, race and mixedness, sex, gender, class, culture and ethnicity, all within the crisis of the care system. This thesis argues that placing the care experiences of mixed young people in the centre of debates about how to conceptualise mixedness could influence care planning.

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The Lived Experience of Mixed-Race Identity

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-08-10 23:59Z by Steven

The Lived Experience of Mixed-Race Identity

University of Edinburgh
2013

Jessica Pons

This study shows a phenomenological account of the mixed-race lived experience. Previous research focused on mixed-race White/Black individuals and mainly consisted of American studies. For this study, six British young adults were interviewed. The participants self identified as mixed-race, all had one Black parent and one White or Indian. Transcripts were analysed using the qualitative method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four master themes emerged, Wholeness: more than just the parts; Neither Black nor White; Appearances: a mixed-blessing; and Journeying identity. The mixed-race experience was found to be highly heterogeneous although all had reached a mixed-race identity. Contextual factors such as upbringing, the presence of Black others and the ability to deconstruct race affected how they identified. Some participants felt strongly that they did not fit into a monoracial world. This was due to other people’s perceptions, others had no such issue. Multiple identities were held and identities were fluid, supporting past research. These findings deepen our understanding of the dynamic nature of mixed-race racial identity and the diverse factors that influence such identities, providing a sound base for further research.

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