The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2015-07-13 02:00Z by Steven

The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts

Harvard University Press
April 2015
288 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
11 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674967625

Amber D. Moulton, Researcher
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Well known as an abolitionist stronghold before the Civil War, Massachusetts had taken steps to eliminate slavery as early as the 1780s. Nevertheless, a powerful racial caste system still held sway, reinforced by a law prohibiting “amalgamation”—marriage between whites and blacks. The Fight for Interracial Marriage Rights in Antebellum Massachusetts chronicles a grassroots movement to overturn the state’s ban on interracial unions. Assembling information from court and church records, family histories, and popular literature, Amber D. Moulton recreates an unlikely collaboration of reformers who sought to rectify what, in the eyes of the state’s antislavery constituency, appeared to be an indefensible injustice.

Initially, activists argued that the ban provided a legal foundation for white supremacy in Massachusetts. But laws that enforced racial hierarchy remained popular even in Northern states, and the movement gained little traction. To attract broader support, the reformers recalibrated their arguments along moral lines, insisting that the prohibition on interracial unions weakened the basis of all marriage, by encouraging promiscuity, prostitution, and illegitimacy. Through trial and error, reform leaders shaped an appeal that ultimately drew in Garrisonian abolitionists, equal rights activists, antislavery evangelicals, moral reformers, and Yankee legislators, all working to legalize interracial marriage.

This pre–Civil War effort to overturn Massachusetts’ antimiscegenation law was not a political aberration but a crucial chapter in the deep history of the African American struggle for equal rights, on a continuum with the civil rights movement over a century later.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Amalgamation and the Massachusetts Ban on Interracial Marriage
  • 2. Interracial Marriage as an Equal Rights Measure
  • 3. Moral Reform and the Protection of Northern Motherhood
  • 4. Anti-Southern Politics and Interracial Marriage Rights
  • 5. Advancing Interracialism
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy on 2015-04-16 19:29Z by Steven

Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity

Harvard University Press
February 2014
240 pages
4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674724914

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Law and Philosophy
New York University

W. E. B. Du Bois never felt so at home as when he was a student at the University of Berlin. But Du Bois was also American to his core, scarred but not crippled by the racial humiliations of his homeland. In Lines of Descent, Kwame Anthony Appiah traces the twin lineages of Du Bois’ American experience and German apprenticeship, showing how they shaped the great African-American scholar’s ideas of race and social identity.

At Harvard, Du Bois studied with such luminaries as William James and George Santayana, scholars whose contributions were largely intellectual. But arriving in Berlin in 1892, Du Bois came under the tutelage of academics who were also public men. The economist Adolf Wagner had been an advisor to Otto von Bismarck. Heinrich von Treitschke, the historian, served in the Reichstag, and the economist Gustav von Schmoller was a member of the Prussian state council. These scholars united the rigorous study of history with political activism and represented a model of real-world engagement that would strongly influence Du Bois in the years to come.

With its romantic notions of human brotherhood and self-realization, German culture held a potent allure for Du Bois. Germany, he said, was the first place white people had treated him as an equal. But the prevalence of anti-Semitism allowed Du Bois no illusions that the Kaiserreich was free of racism. His challenge, says Appiah, was to take the best of German intellectual life without its parochialism—to steal the fire without getting burned.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Awakening
  • 2. Culture and Cosmopolitanism
  • 3. The Concept of the Negro
  • 4. The Mystic Spell
  • 5. The One and the Many
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2015-01-03 23:15Z by Steven

A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia

Harvard University Press
November 2014
522 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
9 line illustrations, 31 tables
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674735361

Richard S. Dunn, Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor Emeritus of American History
University of Pennsylvania

Forty years ago, after publication of his pathbreaking book Sugar and Slaves, Richard Dunn began an intensive investigation of two thousand slaves living on two plantations, one in North America and one in the Caribbean. Digging deeply into the archives, he has reconstructed the individual lives and collective experiences of three generations of slaves on the Mesopotamia sugar estate in Jamaica and the Mount Airy plantation in tidewater Virginia, to understand the starkly different forms slavery could take. Dunn’s stunning achievement is a rich and compelling history of bondage in two very different Atlantic world settings.

From the mid-eighteenth century to emancipation in 1834, life in Mesopotamia was shaped and stunted by deadly work regimens, rampant disease, and dependence on the slave trade for new laborers. At Mount Airy, where the population continually expanded until emancipation in 1865, the “surplus” slaves were sold or moved to distant work sites, and families were routinely broken up. Over two hundred of these Virginia slaves were sent eight hundred miles to the Cotton South.

In the genealogies that Dunn has painstakingly assembled, we can trace a Mesopotamia fieldhand through every stage of her bondage, and contrast her harsh treatment with the fortunes of her rebellious mulatto son and clever quadroon granddaughter. We track a Mount Airy craftworker through a stormy life of interracial sex, escape, and family breakup. The details of individuals’ lives enable us to grasp the full experience of both slave communities as they labored and loved, and ultimately became free.

Visit the interactive website about the enslaved families here.

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A History of Loss

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2014-10-08 20:45Z by Steven

A History of Loss

Harvard University Press Blog
Harvard University Press
2014-10-08

Between the late eighteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families, friends, and communities without any available avenue for return. As historian Allyson Hobbs explains in A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, scholars have traditionally paid far more attention to what was gained by passing as white than what was lost by leaving a black racial identity behind. Her book, she writes, “is an effort to recover those lives,” to write the history of passing as a history of loss…

Read the entire article here.

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The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2014-10-01 16:04Z by Steven

The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea

Harvard University Press
October 2014
384 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
4 halftones, 2 line illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674417311

Robert Wald Sussman, Professor of Physical Anthropology
Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Biological races do not exist—and never have. This view is shared by all scientists who study variation in human populations. Yet racial prejudice and intolerance based on the myth of race remain deeply ingrained in Western society. In his powerful examination of a persistent, false, and poisonous idea, Robert Sussman explores how race emerged as a social construct from early biblical justifications to the pseudoscientific studies of today.

The Myth of Race traces the origins of modern racist ideology to the Spanish Inquisition, revealing how sixteenth-century theories of racial degeneration became a crucial justification for Western imperialism and slavery. In the nineteenth century, these theories fused with Darwinism to produce the highly influential and pernicious eugenics movement. Believing that traits from cranial shape to raw intelligence were immutable, eugenicists developed hierarchies that classified certain races, especially fair-skinned “Aryans,” as superior to others. These ideologues proposed programs of intelligence testing, selective breeding, and human sterilization—policies that fed straight into Nazi genocide. Sussman examines how opponents of eugenics, guided by the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas’s new, scientifically supported concept of culture, exposed fallacies in racist thinking.

Although eugenics is now widely discredited, some groups and individuals today claim a new scientific basis for old racist assumptions. Pondering the continuing influence of racist research and thought, despite all evidence to the contrary, Sussman explains why—when it comes to race—too many people still mistake bigotry for science.

Table of Contents

  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • 1. Early Racism in Western Europe
  • 2. The Birth of Eugenics
  • 3. The Merging of Polygenics and Eugenics
  • 4. Eugenics and the Nazis
  • 5. The Antidote: Boas and the Anthropological Concept of Culture
  • 6. Physical Anthropology in the Early Twentieth Century
  • 7. The Downfall of Eugenics
  • 8. The Beginnings of Modern Scientific Racism
  • 9. The Pioneer Fund, 1970s–1990s
  • 10. The Pioneer Fund in the Twenty-First Century
  • 11. Modern Racism and Anti-Immigration Policies
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix A: The Eugenics Movement, 1890s–1940s
  • Appendix B: The Pioneer Fund
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
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A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2014-09-26 15:52Z by Steven

A Chosen Exile: History of Racial Passing in American Life

Harvard University Press
October 2014
350 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
26 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674368101

Allyson Hobbs, Assistant Professor of History
Stanford University

Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.

As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.

Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.

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Pudd’nhead Wilson

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2014-09-26 15:50Z by Steven

Pudd’nhead Wilson

Harvard University Press
February 2015 (Originally Published in 1894)
190 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
7 line illustrations
Paperback ISBN: 9780674059832

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Introduction by:

Werner Sollors, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

When a murder takes place in Dawson’s Landing, Missouri, the lives of twin Italian noblemen, the courageous slave Roxy, her 1/32nd “black” son who has been raised “white,” and a failing lawyer with an intense interest in the science of fingerprinting become tangled. The unsolved riddle at the heart of Pudd’nhead Wilson is less the identity of the murderer than it is the question of whether nature or nurture makes the man. In his introduction, Werner Sollors illuminates the complex web of uncertainty that is the switched-and-doubled-identity world of Mark Twain’s novel. This edition follows the text of the 1899 De Luxe edition and for the first time reprints all the E. W. Kemble illustrations that accompanied it.

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Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Women on 2014-02-15 03:52Z by Steven

Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe

Harvard University Press
April 2014
288 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
30 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674047556

Matthew Pratt Guterl, Professor of Africana studies and American studies
Brown University

Creating a sensation with her risqué nightclub act and strolls down the Champs Elysées, pet cheetah in tow, Josephine Baker lives on in popular memory as the banana-skirted siren of Jazz Age Paris. In Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe, Matthew Pratt Guterl brings out a little known side of the celebrated personality, showing how her ambitions of later years were even more daring and subversive than the youthful exploits that made her the first African American superstar.

Her performing days numbered, Baker settled down in a sixteenth-century chateau she named Les Milandes, in the south of France. Then, in 1953, she did something completely unexpected and, in the context of racially sensitive times, outrageous. Adopting twelve children from around the globe, she transformed her estate into a theme park, complete with rides, hotels, a collective farm, and singing and dancing. The main attraction was her Rainbow Tribe, the family of the future, which showcased children of all skin colors, nations, and religions living together in harmony. Les Milandes attracted an adoring public eager to spend money on a utopian vision, and to worship at the feet of Josephine, mother of the world.

Alerting readers to some of the contradictions at the heart of the Rainbow Tribe project—its undertow of child exploitation and megalomania in particular—Guterl concludes that Baker was a serious and determined activist who believed she could make a positive difference by creating a family out of the troublesome material of race.

Table of Contents

  • Prologue
  • 1. Too Busy to Die
  • 2. No More Bananas
  • 3. Citizen of the World
  • 4. Southern Muse
  • 5. Ambitious Assemblages
  • 6. French Disney
  • 7. Mother of a Wounded World
  • 8. Unraveling Plots
  • 9. Rainbow’s End
  • Epilogue
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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American Cocktail: A “Colored Girl” in the World

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Women on 2014-02-12 07:59Z by Steven

American Cocktail: A “Colored Girl” in the World

Harvard University Press
2014-02-17
352 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
20 halftones
Hardcover ISBN 9780674073050

Anita Reynolds (1901-1980), actress, dancer, model, and psychologist

with

Howard Miller, Professor of Education and Chair in the Department of Secondary Education
Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York

Edited by:

George Hutchinson, Professor of English and Newton C. Farr Professor of American Culture
Cornell University

Foreword by:

Patricia J. Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia Law School

This is the rollicking, never-before-published memoir of a fascinating woman with an uncanny knack for being in the right place in the most interesting times. Of racially mixed heritage, Anita Reynolds was proudly African American but often passed for Indian, Mexican, or Creole. Actress, dancer, model, literary critic, psychologist, but above all free-spirited provocateur, she was, as her Parisian friends nicknamed her, an “American cocktail.”

One of the first black stars of the silent era, she appeared in Hollywood movies with Rudolph Valentino, attended Charlie Chaplin’s anarchist meetings, and studied dance with Ruth St. Denis. She moved to New York in the 1920s and made a splash with both Harlem Renaissance elites and Greenwich Village bohemians. An émigré in Paris, she fell in with the Left Bank avant garde, befriending Antonin Artaud, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso. Next, she took up residence as a journalist in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and witnessed firsthand the growing menace of fascism. In 1940, as the Nazi panzers closed in on Paris, Reynolds spent the final days before the French capitulation as a Red Cross nurse, afterward making a mad dash for Lisbon to escape on the last ship departing Europe.

In prose that perfectly captures the globetrotting nonchalance of its author, American Cocktail presents a stimulating, unforgettable self-portrait of a truly extraordinary woman.

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Brazil through the Eyes of William James: Diaries, Letters, and Drawings, 1865-1866

Posted in Biography, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs on 2013-08-17 18:14Z by Steven

Brazil through the Eyes of William James: Diaries, Letters, and Drawings, 1865-1866

Harvard University Press
November 2006
230 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
38 line drawings; 10 black and white halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674021334

Maria Helena P.T. Machado, Professor of History
University of São Paulo

In 1865, twenty-three-year-old William James began his studies at the Harvard Medical School. When he learned that one of his most esteemed professors, Louis Agassiz, then director of the recently established Museum of Comparative Zoology, was preparing a research expedition to Brazil, James offered his services as a voluntary collector. Over the course of a year, James kept a diary, wrote letters to his family, and sketched the plants, animals, and people he observed. During this journey, James spent time primarily in Rio de Janeiro, Belém, and Manaus, and along the rivers and tributaries of the Amazon Basin.

This volume is a critical, bilingual (English-Portuguese) edition of William James’s diaries and letters and also includes reproductions of his drawings. This original material belongs to the Houghton Archives at Harvard University and is of great interest to both William James scholars and Brazilian studies experts.

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