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, 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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The Colors of Zion: Blacks, Jews, and Irish from 1845 to 1945

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2013-07-31 00:28Z by Steven

The Colors of Zion: Blacks, Jews, and Irish from 1845 to 1945

Harvard University Press
February 2011
272 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
20 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674057012

George Bornstein, C. A. Patrides Professor of Literature, Emeritus
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

A major reevaluation of relationships among Blacks, Jews, and Irish in the years between the Irish Famine and the end of World War II, The Colors of Zion argues that the cooperative efforts and sympathies among these three groups, each persecuted and subjugated in its own way, was much greater than often acknowledged today. For the Black, Jewish, and Irish writers, poets, musicians, and politicians at the center of this transatlantic study, a sense of shared wrongs inspired repeated outpourings of sympathy. If what they have to say now surprises us, it is because our current constructions of interracial and ethnic relations have overemphasized conflict and division. As George Bornstein says in his Introduction, he chooses “to let the principals speak for themselves.”

While acknowledging past conflicts and tensions, Bornstein insists on recovering the “lost connections” through which these groups frequently defined their plights as well as their aspirations. In doing so, he examines a wide range of materials, including immigration laws, lynching, hostile race theorists, Nazis and Klansmen, discriminatory university practices, and Jewish publishing houses alongside popular plays like The Melting Pot and Abie’s Irish Rose, canonical novels like Ulysses and Daniel Deronda, music from slave spirituals to jazz, poetry, and early films such as The Jazz Singer. The models of brotherhood that extended beyond ethnocentrism a century ago, the author argues, might do so once again today, if only we bear them in mind. He also urges us to move beyond arbitrary and invidious categories of race and ethnicity.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1. Races
  • 2. Diasporas and Nationalisms
  • 3. Melting Pots
  • 4. Popular and Institutional Cultures
  • 5. The Gathering Storm: The 1930s and World War II
  • Notes
  • Index
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Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2013-04-03 00:38Z by Steven

Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line

Belknap Press (an imprint of Harvard University Press)
January 2002
416 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
1 halftone
Paperback ISBN: 9780674006690

Paul Gilroy, Anthony Giddens Professor of Social Theory
London School of Economics

After all the “progress” made since World War II in matters pertaining to race, why are we still conspiring to divide humanity into different identity groups based on skin color? Did all the good done by the Civil Rights Movement and the decolonization of the Third World have such little lasting effect?

In this provocative book Paul Gilroy contends that race-thinking has distorted the finest promises of modern democracy. He compels us to see that fascism was the principal political innovation of the twentieth century—and that its power to seduce did not die in a bunker in Berlin. Aren’t we in fact using the same devices the Nazis used in their movies and advertisements when we make spectacles of our identities and differences? Gilroy examines the ways in which media and commodity culture have become preeminent in our lives in the years since the 1960s and especially in the 1980s with the rise of hip-hop and other militancies. With this trend, he contends, much that was wonderful about black culture has been sacrificed in the service of corporate interests and new forms of cultural expression tied to visual technologies. He argues that the triumph of the image spells death to politics and reduces people to mere symbols.

At its heart, Against Race is a utopian project calling for the renunciation of race. Gilroy champions a new humanism, global and cosmopolitan, and he offers a new political language and a new moral vision for what was once called “anti-racism.”

Table of Contents

Introduction

I. Racial Observance, Nationalism, and Humanism
1. The Crisis of “Race” and Raciology
2. Modernity and Infrahumanity
3. Identity, Belonging, and the Critique of Pure Sameness

II. Fascism, Embodiment, and Revolutionary Conservatism
4. Hitler Wore Khakis: Icons, Propaganda, and Aesthetic Politics
5. “After the Love Has Gone”: Biopolitics and the Decay of the Black Public Sphere
6. The Tyrannies of Unanimism

III. Black to the Future
7. “All about the Benjamins”: Multicultural Blackness–Corporate, Commercial, and Oppositional
8. “Race,” Cosmopolitanism, and Catastrophe
9. “Third Stone from the Sun”: Planetary Humanism and Strategic Universalism

Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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Genetic Explanations: Sense and Nonsense

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2013-02-06 19:00Z by Steven

Genetic Explanations: Sense and Nonsense

Harvard University Press
February 2013
384 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
2 graphs, 4 tables
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674064461

Edited by

Sheldon Krimsky, Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning in the School of Arts; Sciences and Adjunct Professor of Public Health & Community Medicine in the School of Medicine
Tufts University

Jeremy Gruber, President and Executive Director
Council for Responsible Genetics

Can genes determine which fifty-year-old will succumb to Alzheimer’s, which citizen will turn out on voting day, and which child will be marked for a life of crime? Yes, according to the Internet, a few scientific studies, and some in the biotechnology industry who should know better. Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber gather a team of genetic experts to argue that treating genes as the holy grail of our physical being is a patently unscientific endeavor. Genetic Explanations urges us to replace our faith in genetic determinism with scientific knowledge about how DNA actually contributes to human development.

The concept of the gene has been steadily revised since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. No longer viewed by scientists as the cell’s fixed set of master molecules, genes and DNA are seen as a dynamic script that is ad-libbed at each stage of development. Rather than an autonomous predictor of disease, the DNA we inherit interacts continuously with the environment and functions differently as we age. What our parents hand down to us is just the beginning. Emphasizing relatively new understandings of genetic plasticity and epigenetic inheritance, the authors put into a broad developmental context the role genes are known to play in disease, behavior, evolution, and cognition.

Rather than dismissing genetic reductionism out of hand, Krimsky and Gruber ask why it persists despite opposing scientific evidence, how it influences attitudes about human behavior, and how it figures in the politics of research funding.

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A Hideous Monster of the Mind: American Race Theory in the Early Republic

Posted in Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2013-01-09 04:40Z by Steven

A Hideous Monster of the Mind: American Race Theory in the Early Republic

Harvard University Press
February 2003
334 pages
6 x 9-15/16 inches
Hardcove ISBN: 9780674009462

Bruce Dain, Associate Professor of History
University of Utah

The intellectual history of race, one of the most pernicious and enduring ideas in American history, has remained segregated into studies of black or white traditions. Bruce Dain breaks this separatist pattern with an integrated account of the emergence of modern racial consciousness in the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War. A Hideous Monster of the Mind reveals that ideas on race crossed racial boundaries in a process that produced not only well-known theories of biological racism but also countertheories that were early expressions of cultural relativism, cultural pluralism, and latter-day Afrocentrism.
 
From 1800 to 1830 in particular, race took on a new reality as Americans, black and white, reacted to postrevolutionary disillusionment, the events of the Haitian Revolution, the rise of cotton culture, and the entrenchment of slavery. Dain examines not only major white figures like Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Stanhope Smith, but also the first self-consciously “black” African-American writers. These various thinkers transformed late-eighteenth-century European environmentalist “natural history” into race theories that combined culture and biology and set the terms for later controversies over slavery and abolition. In those debates, the ethnology of Samuel George Morton and Josiah Nott intertwined conceptually with important writing by black authors who have been largely forgotten, like Hosea Easton and James McCune Smith. Scientific racism and the idea of races as cultural constructions were thus interrelated aspects of the same effort to explain human differences.
 
In retrieving neglected African-American thinkers, reestablishing the European intellectual background to American racial theory, and demonstrating the deep confusion “race” caused for thinkers black and white, A Hideous Monster of the Mind offers an engaging and enlightening new perspective on modern American racial thought.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. The Face of Nature
  • 2. Culture and the Persistence of Race
  • 3. The Horrors of St. Domingue
  • 4. The Mutability of Human Affairs
  • 5. Conceiving Universal Equality
  • 6. Black Immediatism
  • 7. The New Ethnology
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Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, United States on 2012-12-13 22:16Z by Steven

Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America

Harvard University Press
April 2013
250 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780674045835

François Weil, Chancellor and Professor of History; former president of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Universities of Paris

The quest for roots has been an enduring American preoccupation. Over the centuries, generations have sketched coats of arms, embroidered family trees, established local genealogical societies, and carefully filled in the blanks in their bibles, all in pursuit of self-knowledge and status through kinship ties. This long and varied history of Americans’ search for identity illuminates the story of America itself, according to François Weil, as fixations with social standing, racial purity, and national belonging gave way in the twentieth century to an embrace of diverse ethnicity and heritage.

Seeking out one’s ancestors was a genteel pursuit in the colonial era, when an aristocratic pedigree secured a place in the British Atlantic empire. Genealogy developed into a middle-class diversion in the young republic. But over the next century, knowledge of one’s family background came to represent a quasi-scientific defense of elite “Anglo-Saxons” in a nation transformed by immigration and the emancipation of slaves. By the mid-twentieth century, when a new enthusiasm for cultural diversity took hold, the practice of tracing one’s family tree had become thoroughly democratized and commercialized.

Today, Ancestry.com attracts over two million members with census records and ship manifests, while popular television shows depict celebrities exploring archives and submitting to DNA testing to learn the stories of their forebears. Further advances in genetics promise new insights as Americans continue their restless pursuit of past and place in an ever-changing world.

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