American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion on 2014-08-05 14:52Z by Steven

American Race and Charismatic License: Finding Martín de Porres in Obama

Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 97, Number 3, 2014
pages 376-384
DOI: 10.1353/sij.2014.0018

Chris Garces, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Problematizing the saintly reputation of seventeenth-century Dominican servant Martín de Porres, this article explores a little-known, late medieval Spanish form of agency, or licencia, with which a mulato colonial monastic could influence his Spanish Creole superiors, perform miracles, and gain a widespread reputation for superhuman piety. I ask: under what specific conditions could licencia have been wielded by nonwhite Christian subjects to manipulate the shifting moral orders of early modern Spanish Creole hegemony? I also explore how the politicization of racialized charisma continues to depend on a logic of licencia. Tracking resonances between the Spanish Creole veneration of a mulato figure in seventeenth-century Peru with the recent election of a “mixed race” president in the United States, this article reads together theology and politics to demonstrate the fraught beauty, or legal “beatification,” of racialized charisma.

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Metisse Narratives

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2009-09-24 03:14Z by Steven

Metisse Narratives

Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Issue 5
Spring 1997

Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe, Visiting Associate Professor of African and African American Studies
Duke University

Jayne Ifekwunigwe discusses the testimonies of women of ‘mixed race’ parentage in the English-African diaspora.

Rather than representing a portrait of metisse (‘mixed race’) girls as unruly, at age six Sandra and Aneya have exposed the major problematic of ‘race’.  Their discussion highlights the cultural paradoxes of ‘race’ and colour which multiple generations of women, men and children in England silently negotiate in their everyday lives.  These individuals descend from lineages which cut across so-called different ‘black and white’ ‘races’, ethnicities, cultures, and classes. Their roots are both endogenous and exogenous.

In varied cultural and historical contexts, countless terms are employed to name such individuals – mixed ‘race’, mixed heritage, mixed parentage, mestizo, mestiza, mulatto, mulatta, Creole, coloured, mixed racial descent, etc. I deploy the terms metisse (f), metis (m), metissage which more appropriately describe generations of individuals who by virtue of birth and lineage do not fit neatly into preordained sociological and anthropological categories.  In England, at the moment, there are a multitude of terms in circulation which describe individuals who straddle racial borders.  More often than not, received terminology either privileges presumed ‘racial’ differences (‘mixed race’) or obscures the complex ways in which being metis (se) involves both the negotiation of constructed ‘black’/’white’ racial categories and the celebration of converging cultures, continuities of generations and over-lapping historical traditions.  The lack of consensus as to which term to use, as well as the limitations of this discursive privileging of ‘race’ at the expense of generational, ethnic, and cultural concerns, led me to metis(se) and metissage…

…Gettin’ into me late teens, I didn’t think much about meself because of all these conflicts that were startin’ to come up from the past. Also new ones that were comin’ in from other communities – black communities – that were really shockin’ me. I mean there were times when I wouldn’t show me legs. I’d go through the summer wearing tights and socks. Cause I thought they were too light and too white-lookin’. There was a lot of pressure. I remember one day I was leanin’ up somewhere and this guy said to me, ‘Boy, aren’t your legs white.’ I just looked in horror, and felt really sick and wanted to just run away. I was thinkin’, God why didn’t you make me a bit darker? Why did you make me so light? It took me years to reconcile that…

Read the entire article here.

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