Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective

Posted in Africa, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States on 2013-03-28 13:16Z by Steven

Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective

Palgrave Macmillan
September 2000
186 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
ISBN: 978-0-312-23219-1
ISBN10: 0-312-23219-5

Mark Christian, Professor & Chair of African & African American Studies
Lehman College, City University of New York

Multiracial Identity provides an accessible account of the social construction of racialized groups. Using both primary (in-depth interviews) and secondary data, four nations are examined: the UK, US, South Africa, and Jamaica. The author discusses how little attention has been traditionally been given to theorizing multiracial identity in the context of white supremacist thought and practice.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword–Diedre L. Badejo
  • Part I: Theorizing Multiracial Identity
    • Toward a Definition of Identity
    • Multiracial Identity as a Term in the 1990s
    • Historical Theories of ‘Mixed Race’ Persons
    • Contemporary US Theories in Multiracial Identity
    • Contemporary UK Theories in Multiracial Identity
  • Part II: Speaking forThemselves (I)
    • How the Liverpool, UK Respondents Define Themselves in a Racial Sense
    • Parental Influence in the Construction of a Racialized Identity
  • Part III: Speaking for Themselves (II) Shades of Blackness
    • Is Wanting to Change One’s Physical Appearance an Issue?
  • Part IV: South Africa and Jamaica: “Other” Multiracial Case Studies
    • South Africa and the Social Construction of “Coloureds”
    • Jamaica in Context
  • Part V: Assessing Multiracial Identity White Supremacy and Multiracial Identity
    • Social Status and Multiracial Identity
    • Nomenclature Default and Multiracial Terminology
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Between black and white: Rethinking Coloured identity

Posted in Africa, Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Philosophy, South Africa on 2012-03-13 01:15Z by Steven

Between black and white: Rethinking Coloured identity

African Identities
Volume 1, Issue 2 (2003)
pages 253-280
DOI: 10.1080/1472584032000173139

Pal Ahluwalia, Pro Vice Chancellor of Education, Arts and Social Sciences
University of South Australia

Abebe Zegeye
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Identity who we are, where we come from, what we are is difficult to maintain … we are the ‘other’, an opposite, a flaw in the geometry of resettlement, an exodus. (Said 1986: 16 17)

The photographs

Stephen Greenblatt offers two models for the exhibition of works of art resonance and wonder. Resonance, he argues, equates with the ‘power of the displayed object to reach out beyond its formal boundaries to a larger world, to evoke in the viewer the complex, dynamic cultural forces from which it has emerged and for which it may be taken by a viewer to stand’ (Greenblatt 1991: 42). Clearly a work of art that evokes such resonance creates its own context albeit that it is far removed from its original site. In contrast, by wonder, he means, ‘the power of the displayed object to stop the viewer in his or her tracks, to convey an arresting sense of uniqueness, to evoke an exalted attention’ (ibid.).

Greenblatt argues that what has increasingly happened in the practice of mounting exhibitions is the triumph of resonance over wonder. For an exhibition to have maximum impact, he argues (ibid.: 54), it is important that there should be ‘a strong initial appeal to wonder, a wonder that then leads to the desire for resonance, for it is generally easier in our culture to pass from wonder to resonance than from resonance to wonder’. It is in this context that we urge readers to make acquaintance with Chris Ledochowski’s photographs. First and foremost, they are works of art that evoke wonder. These works of art, however, are deeply resonant with the racial quagmire that has dominated and continues to dominate   South Africa’s culture, history and politics…

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Not White Enough, Not Black Enough

Posted in Africa, Articles, New Media, Politics/Public Policy, South Africa on 2012-02-15 19:56Z by Steven

Not White Enough, Not Black Enough

International Herald Tribune (The Global Edition of the New York Times)
2012-02-15

Eusebius McKaiser, political Analyst
Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – A few weeks ago, a British friend of mine served a sumptuous confession as a starter for dinner, “I only realized recently that you’re not actually black!” We had met several years back in the English midlands, where, judging by her remark, I had passed as black. But now that she has lived in South Africa for a few months, she is fluent in the local racial vocabulary: things are not quite black and white.

Let me explain. In South Africa I’m referred to as “colored,” a term that does not have the same derogatory denotation here as it does in the United States when it is hurled at black Americans. I am not black. I am of mixed racial heritage, as my parents are and their parents were.
 
When racist colonial settlers arrived at the southern tip of Africa during the 17th century, their racism did not preclude sexual relations with the locals. Several generations later, the colored community is ostensibly an ethnic group just like the Xhosas or the Zulus or any of the other myriad groupings within South Africa’s borders. It makes up  9 percent of the country’s population of 50.6 million.

…The lack of adequate economic opportunity for coloreds since the dawn of democracy here — combined with their lingering, paralyzing sense of victimhood — explains why the colored community is the most class-homogenous racial grouping in South Africa: an essentially poor, lower-working-class community. Very few of its members escape that stereotype.

In the Western Cape, the province with the largest concentration of colored people in the country, rates of fetal alcohol syndrome are some of the worst in the world. This community is like the drunken uncle of the South African family, the relative you tuck away when posh visitors come around. Paradoxically, many more colored people are worse off than black Africans now than were during apartheid…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

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Black, yellow, (honorary) white or just plain South African?: Chinese South Africans, identity and affirmative action

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-02-06 22:52Z by Steven

Black, yellow, (honorary) white or just plain South African?: Chinese South Africans, identity and affirmative action

Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa
Number 77 (2011)
pages 107-121
DOI: 10.1353/trn.2011.0043

Yoon Jung Park, Senior Researcher in the Centre for Sociological Research
Humanities Research Village
University of Johannesburg

On 18 June 2008, while the country was still reeling from outbreaks of xenophobic violence, the Pretoria High Court issued an order proclaiming that the Chinese South Africans fall within the broad definition of ‘black people’ as contained in the nation’s affirmative action policies. Reaction to the decision was swift, angry and overwhelmingly negative; across the board, South Africans were in disbelief that the Chinese South Africans could be viewed as ‘black’. In this essay the author, a Korean American long resident in South Africa, addresses concerns about affirmative action and argues that these race-based policies are re-racialising the country. Chinese South Africans have long held an ambiguous, confused, in-between position in South Africa. In light of continuing new Chinese migration to the country, the global rise of China and its growing influence on South Africa’s economy and polity, the place and position of Chinese South Africans is further confused. Seen through the lens of the Chinese South African case, affirmative action policies impede progress toward building an inclusive, racially diverse national identity. So long as rewards are doled out solely on the basis of blackness, and blackness increasingly becomes the principal defining characteristic of South Africanness, South Africa fails to construct a national identity that reflects its history and its diversity.

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A Matter Of Honour: Being Chinese in South Africa

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-02-06 22:32Z by Steven

A Matter Of Honour: Being Chinese in South Africa

Jacana Media
2008
256 pages
235 x 155mm
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-77009-568-7

Yoon Jung Park, Senior Researcher in the Centre for Sociological Research
Humanities Research Village
University of Johannesburg

The South African-born Chinese community is a tiny one, consisting of 10,000 to 12,000 members in a population of approximately 45 million. Throughout much of the history of this most race-conscious country, the community has been ignored or neglected, and officially classed along with Coloureds (people of mixed race) or with Indians in that particularly South African category of ‘Asiatic’.
 
More recently, as China’s aid, trade and investment in Africa grow and large numbers of new Chinese immigrants stream into South Africa and other African states, Chinese South Africans are beginning to receive both media and scholarly attention. For this reason it is timely to focus on the only resident community of Chinese on the continent.
 
This book, based on a PhD thesis, focuses on Chinese South Africans by examining their shifting social, ethnic, racial and national identities over time. Using concepts of identity, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism, and drawing on comparisons with other overseas Chinese communities, it explores the multi-layered identities of the South African group and analyses the way in which their identities have changed over time and with each generation.
 
As the book makes clear, Chinese identities in South Africa have been shaped by both external and internal forces. As regards external factors, the state—both that of China and of South Africa—played a key role in establishing the parameters of identity construction. Over time the weight of this influence changed, as a result of international political events, internal racial policies, and external trade and political relations. At the same time, individual and community agency, and the force of the ‘China myth’, played important parts in the construction of Chinese South African identity.

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Race in South Africa: Still an issue

Posted in Africa, Articles, New Media, Social Science, South Africa on 2012-02-02 19:37Z by Steven

Race in South Africa: Still an issue

The Economist
2012-02-04

Mixed-race citizens remain uneasy about black rule

If Barack Obama lived in South Africa, he might be called a coloured. Under apartheid, the government decided to which of four racial categories a South African belonged—black, coloured, Indian/Asian or white—depending mostly on looks. The same categorisation still exists, but it is now left up to individuals.
 
Given that coloureds were formerly regarded as racial misfits, once dismissed by the wife of former president F. W. de Klerk, Marike, as “non-persons…the leftovers”, one might have expected the number of South Africans wishing to describe themselves as such to plummet. But since the end of apartheid in 1994 the coloured population has in fact grown by almost a third, to 4.5m.
 
Most live in Cape Town and the Western Cape region, where they originated some 350 years ago after the arrival of the first Dutch settlers. Given the dearth of European women at the time, the Dutch—soon to be followed by French, German and English settlers—often took the pale-skinned indigenous Khoisan or, later, imported Asian and African slaves as their wives and mistresses…

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Playing in the dark/ playing in the light: Coloured identity in the novels of Zoë Wicomb

Posted in Africa, Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, South Africa, Women on 2011-12-01 04:13Z by Steven

Playing in the dark/ playing in the light: Coloured identity in the novels of Zoë Wicomb

Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa
Volume 20, Issue 1, 2008
pages 1-15
DOI: 10.1080/1013929X.2008.9678286

J. U. Jacobs, Senior Professor of English and Fellow
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Zoë Wicomb’s three fictional works—You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town (1987), David’s Story (2000) and Playing in the Light (2006)—all engage with the question of a South African ‘coloured’ identity both under apartheid with its racialised discourse of black and white, and in the context of the post apartheid language of multiculturalism and creolisation. This essay examines the representation of ‘colouredness’ in Wicomb’s writing in terms of the two different conceptions of cultural identity that Stuart Hall has defined: an essential cultural identity based on a single, shared culture, and the recognition that cultural identity is based not only on points of similarity, but also on critical points of deep and significant difference and of separate histories of rupture and discontinuity. The politics of South African ‘coloured’ identity in Wicomb’s works reveals a tension between, on the one hand, acceptance of the complex discourse of colouredness with all its historical discontinuities, and, on the other, the desire for a more cohesive sense of cultural identity, drawn from a collective narrative of the past. In David’s Story the possibility of an essential cultural identity as an alternative to the unstable coloured one is considered with reference to the history of the Griqua ‘nation’ in the nineteenth century. And in Playing in the Light the alternative to colouredness is examined with reference to those coloured people under apartheid who were light enough to pass for white and crossed over, reinventing themselves as white South Africans. The essay approaches coloured identity through the lens of postcolonial diaspora theory, and more specifically, diasporic chaos theory.

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Commentary: Debating Coloured Identity in the Western Cape

Posted in Africa, Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, South Africa on 2011-11-18 06:14Z by Steven

Commentary: Debating Coloured Identity in the Western Cape

African Security Review
Volume 14, Number 4 (2005)
pages 118-119

Cheryl Hendricks, Senior Research Fellow
Security Sector Governance Programme
Institute of Security Studies, (Tshwane) Pretoria

The nature and form of coloured identity in the Western Cape has been vociferously debated. Coloured identity became a particular concern after the 1994 general elections when the coloured vote returned the National Party to the Western Cape provincial government. More recently, a spate of incidents in the Western Cape have propelled the group into the national spotlight.
 
Many coloureds have indicated that they feel marginalised in the post-apartheid dispensation, and are especially resentful at what they perceive to be a preferential allocation of resources to Africans in the Western Cape, when their needs are just as great. These tensions were highlighted when a group of coloureds protested against the relocation of Africans, whose informal housing had been destroyed in a fire, to a hostel in the coloured township of Bokmakkierie…

…The typical response has been to debate coloured identity. The underlying assumption is that there is something fundamentally wrong with this identity and that some ideological transformation of the bearers of the identity will resolve the problems. This type of response draws on the dominant discourse that has portrayed that identity as bureaucratically constructed and therefore deviant. The onus is then placed on coloureds to change. This is a limited response that forecloses debate on the identity, does not grapple with the larger context of identity constructions in South Africa, and does not adequately address the issues that generate conflict in the Western Cape.
 
We cannot have a meaningful discussion on coloured identity in isolation from other identities that shape its expression. When discussing the identity we need to take into account conceptual issues (Whom are we speaking about?), discursive issues (How has the identity been constructed? By whom? In which contexts?), and perceived power relations in South Africa…

…Who are the coloureds?

Coloureds are often identified as South Africans who are of mixed race. Since everyone is of mixed race (as there is no such thing as a pure race), the identity is ipso facto meaningless (but then so are all other racial identities presumed on the basis of authenticity or purity). However, we do not dismiss these identities because they have social meaning and material consequences. Coloureds are descendants of the sexual liaisons between colonialists, slaves and the indigenous Khoisan. This ‘mixing’ took place centuries ago and state-enforced self-reproduction has largely been the means through which the group multiplied.

However, coloureds are not simply the offspring of inter-racial liaisons. And, conversely, children of ‘mixed marriages’ do not automatically lay claim to a coloured identity. This is a complex historically located identity that stems from the processes of slavery, genocide, rape and perceived miscegenation. The identity construction has been cloaked by the perceived shame of ‘illegitimacy’ and lack of authenticity that has to a large extent psychologically disempowered the bearers of the identity. For most of the history of this community, steeped in oppression and struggles for liberation, had been erased and/or silenced by successive regimes and the group members themselves…

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The Origins of the Afrikaners and their Language, 1652-1720: A Study in Miscegenation and Creole

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, South Africa on 2011-09-23 02:12Z by Steven

The Origins of the Afrikaners and their Language, 1652-1720: A Study in Miscegenation and Creole

Race & Class
Volume 15, Number 4 (April 1974)
pages 461-495
DOI: 10.1177/030639687401500404

Ken Jordaan

We are a bastard people with a bastard language. Ours is a bastard nature. That is good and fine. And like all bastards, uncertain of their identity, we have begun to cling to the concept of purity.

Breyten Breytenbach, the Afrikaner poet

Introduction

The purpose and scope of this paper may be summarized as follows: 1. From the middle of the fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, Portuguese was a world language, having been spoken in the Caribbean and Latin America, Africa and Asia, consequent upon the expansion of the Portuguese empire. It was used as literary or High Portuguese, but mainly as Creole or Low Portuguese, the lingua franca. Europeans spoke it among themselves when they could not communicate with one another in their own languages. It was also spoken among slaves and between master and slave. Dutch officials, sailors and soldiers as well as African and Oriental slaves introduced the lingua franca into the Cape of…

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Miscegenation in South Africa

Posted in Africa, Articles, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa on 2011-09-20 05:21Z by Steven

Miscegenation in South Africa

Cahiers d’études africaines
Volume 1, Number 4 (1960)
pages 68-84
DOI: 10.3406/cea.1960.3680

Pierre L. Van Den Berghe
University of Natal

A number of related factors make the Union of South Africa an ideal object of investigation in the field of miscegenation. The exceptionally virulent brand of racism that has developed in South Africa since the beginning of the 2oth century was accompanied by an increasingly morbid fear of miscegenation unparalleled in intensity anywhere else in the world. As consequence of this miscegenophobia South Africa went further than any other country in recent times in prohibiting by law all sexual relations whether marital or non-marital between whites and non-whites. Finally the South African government in its concern over bastardization provides the social scientist with the best data on inter-racial marriage and concubinage of any country known to the author.

The history of miscegenation in South Africa is as old as the first permanent Dutch settlement at the Cape in 1652. In the first few decades, some instances of marriage between Dutchmen and christianized Hottentot women took place as well as extensive non-marital relations between masters and female slaves. In the 1670′s, an estimated 3/4 of all children of female slaves had white fathers. With the rise of colour prejudice in the latter decades of the 17th century, legal unions of whites and non-whites became rare. A 1685 law prohibited marriage between white men and slave women; some legal unions of white men with free women of colour continued to take place, but with decreasing frequency. Miscegenation however, continued to flourish in the form common to most slave societies namely institutionalized concubinage between white men and non-white women.

The salient fact in the early history of miscegenation in South Africa is that while intermarriage became rapidly condemned, extra marital relations between white men and women of colour were not only tolerated, but even looked upon with amusement The slave lodge of the Dutch East India Company at the Cape was wide-open brothel of which Mentzel gives an interesting account:

“Female slaves are always ready to offer their bodies for trifle; and towards evening one can see string of soldiers and sailors entering the lodge where they misspend their time until the clock strikes 9… The Company does nothing to prevent this promiscuous intercourse since, for one thing it tends to multiply the slave population and does away with the necessity of importing fresh slaves. Three or four generations of this admixture for the daughters follow their footsteps have produced a half-caste population—a mestizo class—but a slight shade darker than some Europeans.”

Among the European bourgeoisie, interracial concubinage was also common:

“Boys who, through, force of circumstances have to remain at home during these impressionable years between 16 and 21 more often than not commit some folly, and get entangled with handsome slave-girl belonging to the household. These affairs are not regarded as very serious… the offence is venial in the public estimation. It does not hurt the prospects; his escapade is source of amusement, and he is dubbed young fellow who has shown the stuff he is made of.”

British visitor to the Cape in the beginning of the 19th century tells that slave girls were routinely assigned to the bedroom of white guests to enliven the latters’ nights. Slave girls were “loaned out” to Europeans by their masters:

“Female slaves sometimes live with Europeans as husband and wife with the permission of their masters who benefit in two ways: the cost of upkeep of the slave is reduced through the presents she receives from the man, and her children are the property of her master since children of female slaves are themselves slaves… In this manner the slave population is always increasing.”

Similarly, the whites interbred extensively with the nominally free Hottentots. Vaillant estimates the number of Bastards (for such was the contemporary designation of white-Hottentot half-breeds) in 1780′s as 1/6 of the inhabitants of the whole Cape Colony. In the first half of the 19th century, entire communities of Bastards settled along the Orange River where they established autonomous “states”. The offspring of these white-slave and white-Hottentot unions, as well as interbreeding between slaves and Hottentots gave rise to the people known today as the “Cape Coloureds”.

In this early period then, miscegenation was not only common but sanctioned so long as it took the form of concubinage between higher-status men and lower-status women. There was no trace of feeling of horror against miscegenation per se. The main concern of the dominant white group was the preservation of its superior status, and the latter was left unthreatened by master-slave concubinage. Intermarriage on the other hand, entailed measure of social equality and was consequently opposed…

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