Continuous Frieze Bordering Red

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Poetry on 2014-02-17 21:07Z by Steven

Continuous Frieze Bordering Red

Fordham University Press
April 2012
78 pages
8 1/2 x 8 1/2
Hardcover ISBN: 9780823243044
Paperback ISBN: 9780823243051

Michelle Naka Pierce, Associate Professor
Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics
Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado

Continuous Frieze Bordering Red documents the migratory patterns of an Other, as she travels between countries, languages, seasons, and shifting identities. A narrative on hybridity, the text explores [dis]location as a cultural swerve while it interrogates Rothko’s red: his bricked-in, water-damaged windows [floating borders], which reflect unstable cultural borders to the hybrid. A person of mixed race [hybrid, mongrel, mutt] traverses these “invisible” cultural borders repeatedly. Border identity comes with flux, instability, and vibrational pulls. An Other is marked as someone who does not belong. She is always a foreigner: when traveling and when at “home.” She is cast aside, bracketed from the dominant culture. She is [neither][nor][both]. She exists in a liminal space: in place and displaced simultaneously. That is, her identity and body are peripatetic, which is reflected in the continuous horizontal frieze. The reader must literally cross the borders of each page in order to navigate each line of text, leaving the reader in constant motion as well. The poem also functions as an ekphrasis of Rothko’s Seagram murals: Rothko writes that the paintings make the observers “feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up.” The hybrid is confined and isolated. Even though the Other is estranged from herself and desires a sense of cultural belonging, she ultimately wants to “acknowledge this scar tissue and proceed” so that she is not held to false measures of “purity.” Continuous Frieze Bordering Red attempts to move away from pejorative definitions of “hybrid” and embrace the monstrous self.

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From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2012-09-26 02:08Z by Steven

From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family

Fordham University Press
May 2012
310 pages
6 x 9
25 Black and White Illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780823239504

James H. Johnston, Lawyer and Writer
Washington, D.C.

From Slave Ship to Harvard is the true story of an African American family in Maryland over six generations. The author has reconstructed a unique narrative of black struggle and achievement from paintings, photographs, books, diaries, court records, legal documents, and oral histories. From Slave Ship to Harvard traces the family from the colonial period and the American Revolution through the Civil War to Harvard and finally today.

Yarrow Mamout, the first of the family in America, was an educated Muslim from Guinea. He was brought to Maryland on the slave ship Elijah and gained his freedom forty-four years later. By then, Yarrow had become so well known in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., that he attracted the attention of the eminent American portrait painter Charles Willson Peale, who captured Yarrow’s visage in the painting that appears on the cover of this book. The author here reveals that Yarrow’s immediate relatives—his sister, niece, wife, and son—were notable in their own right. His son married into the neighboring Turner family, and the farm community in western Maryland called Yarrowsburg was named for Yarrow Mamout’s daughter-in-law, Mary “Polly” Turner Yarrow. The Turner line ultimately produced Robert Turner Ford, who graduated from Harvard University in 1927.

Just as Peale painted the portrait of Yarrow, James H. Johnston’s new book puts a face on slavery and paints the history of race in Maryland. It is a different picture from what most of us imagine. Relationships between blacks and whites were far more complex, and the races more dependent on each other. Fortunately, as this one family’s experience shows, individuals of both races repeatedly stepped forward to lessen divisions and to move America toward the diverse society of today.


  • Introduction
  • 1. Yarrow Mamout. a West African Muslim Slave
  • 2. Tobacco and the Importation of a Labor Force
  • 3. Welcome to America
  • 4. Slavery and Revolution
  • 5. Yarrow of Georgetown
  • 6. The Portraits: Peale, Yarrow, and Simpson
  • 7. Free Hannah, Yarrow’s sister
  • 8. Nancy Hillman, Yarrow’s Niece
  • 9. Aquilla Yarrow
  • 10. Mary “Polly” Turner Yarrow
  • 11 Aquilla and Polly in Pleasant Valley
  • 12. Traces of Yarrow
  • 13. Unpleasant Valley
  • 14. Freedom
  • 15. From Harvard to Today
  • Epilogue: Guide to the Yarrows’ and Turners’ World Today
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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The Creolizing Subject: Race, Reason, and the Politics of Purity

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, Slavery on 2011-05-16 23:16Z by Steven

The Creolizing Subject: Race, Reason, and the Politics of Purity

Fordham University Press
May 2011
256 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780823234509; Hardback ISBN: 9780823234493

Michael J. Monahan, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Marquette University

How does our understanding of the reality (or lack thereof ) of race as a category of being affect our understanding of racism as a social phenomenon, and vice versa? How should we envision the aims and methods of our struggles against racism?

Traditionally, the Western political and philosophical tradition held that true social justice points toward a raceless future—that racial categories are themselves inherently racist, and a sincere advocacy for social justice requires a commitment to the elimination or abolition of race altogether. This book focuses on the underlying assumptions that inform this view of race and racism, arguing that it is ultimately bound up in a “politics of purity”—an understanding of human agency, and reality itself, as requiring all-or-nothing categories with clear and unambiguous boundaries. Racism, being organized around a conception of whiteness as the purest manifestation of the human, thus demands a constant policing of the boundaries among racial categories.

Drawing upon a close engagement with historical treatments of the development of racial categories and identities, the book argues that races should be understood not as clear and distinct categories of being but rather as ambiguous and indeterminate (yet importantly real) processes of social negotiation. As one of its central examples, it lays out the case of the Irish in seventeenth-century Barbados, who occasionally united with black slaves to fight white supremacy—and did so as white people, not as nonwhites who later became white when they capitulated to white supremacy.

Against the politics of purity, Monahan calls for the emergence of a “creolizing subjectivity” that would place such ambiguity at the center of our understanding of race. The Creolizing Subject takes seriously the way in which racial categories, in all of their variety and ambiguity, situate and condition our identity, while emphasizing our capacity, as agents, to engage in the ongoing contestation and negotiation of the meaning and significance of those very categories.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowldegements
  • Introduction
  • Contingency, History, and Ontology: On Abolishing Whiteness
  • Turbulent and Dangerous Spirits: Irish Servitude in Barbados
  • Race and Biology: Scientific Reason and the Politics of Purity
  • “Becoming” White: Race, Reality, and Agency
  • The Politics of Purity: Colonialism, Reason, and Modernity
  • Creolizing Subjects: Antiracism and the Future of Philosophy
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index
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