Ancestry Studies in Forensic Anthropology: Back on the Frontier of Racism

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2021-07-15 16:36Z by Steven

Ancestry Studies in Forensic Anthropology: Back on the Frontier of Racism

Biology
Volume 10, Issue 7 (2021)
pages 602-613
Published: 2021-06-29
DOI: 10.3390/biology10070602

Ann H. Ross, Professor
Department of Biological Sciences,
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

Shanna E. Williams, Clinical Associate Professor
University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, Greenville


Figure 1
Anatomical landmark location and associated landmark number from Table 1.

Simple Summary

Within the practice of forensic anthropology ancestry is oftentimes used as a proxy for social race. This concept and its implications were explored via a content analysis (2009–2019) of the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Our findings revealed antiquated views of race based on the trifecta of continental populations (Asia, Europe, and Africa) continue to be pervasive in the field despite scientific invalidation of the concept of race decades earlier. Moreover, our employment of modern geometric morphometric and spatial analysis methods on craniofacial coordinate anatomical landmarks from several Latin American samples produced results in which the groups were not patterned by ancestry trifecta. Based on our findings we propose replacing the assumption of continental ancestry with a population structure approach that combines microevolutionary and cultural factors with historical events in the examination of population affinity.

Abstract

One of the parameters forensic anthropologists have traditionally estimated is ancestry, which is used in the United States as a proxy for social race. Its use is controversial because the biological race concept was debunked by scientists decades ago. However, many forensic anthropologists contend, in part, that because social race categories used by law enforcement can be predicted by cranial variation, ancestry remains a necessary parameter for estimation. Here, we use content analysis of the Journal of Forensic Sciences for the period 2009–2019 to demonstrate the use of various nomenclature and resultant confusion in ancestry estimation studies, and as a mechanism to discuss how forensic anthropologists have eschewed a human variation approach to studying human morphological differences in favor of a simplistic and debunked typological one. Further, we employ modern geometric morphometric and spatial analysis methods on craniofacial coordinate anatomical landmarks from several Latin American samples to test the validity of applying the antiquated tri-continental approach to ancestry (i.e., African, Asian, European). Our results indicate groups are not patterned by the ancestry trifecta. These findings illustrate the benefit and necessity of embracing studies that employ population structure models to better understand human variation and the historical factors that have influenced it.

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‘The Other Windrush’: the hidden history of Afro-Chinese families in 1950s London

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2021-07-09 02:19Z by Steven

‘The Other Windrush’: the hidden history of Afro-Chinese families in 1950s London

gal-dem
2021-06-30

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural History
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York


image credit: Tao Leigh Goffe/Canva

In this extract from ‘The Other Windrush‘, writer Tao Leigh Goffe explores the history of relative Hyacinth Lee, who migrated to the UK from Jamaica.

Family history is colonial history. How, then, to understand the vernacular photographic record and what is missing about the Windrush era, itself already an omission from British history? Since the inception of the technology of photography in the 1840s, the family photo album as an heirloom to be passed down, vertically, has formed the flesh of blood relation. The family album is also a literary surface inscribed with multiple meanings about race, gender, sexuality, class and who does not belong in the family tree. The visuality of collected images forms the fleshy proof of a seemingly biological argument for bourgeois belonging and familial intimacy. Blood is proof of kinship; the family portrait is flesh, and often colonial belonging.

Because family history is inevitably colonial history, I am invested in what and who is left out of the family album and outside of colonial history. Of particular (and selfish) interest to me is the impossibility of subjects of African and Chinese heritage. Photographs of Afro-Chinese families pose a challenge to the British colonial Trinidad experiment that wished to introduce Chinese labour to the Caribbean plantation to replace Africans in the early nineteenth century.

The ‘experiment’ documented in a secret Parliamentary Papers memorandum predicted the races would not mix. African and Asian people did, of course, ‘mix’; and many subsequent channels of migration were formed from Africa meeting Asia (both China and India) in the Caribbean. Where do we see these descendants present in the routes of the Windrush generation?…

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Social Representations of Art in Public Places: A Study of Everyday Explanations of the Statue of ‘A Real Birmingham Family’

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Family/Parenting, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2021-06-29 22:20Z by Steven

Social Representations of Art in Public Places: A Study of Everyday Explanations of the Statue of ‘A Real Birmingham Family’

Genealogy
Volume 5, Issue 3
pages 59-74
First Published 2021-06-22
DOI: 10.3390/genealogy5030059

Peter J. Aspinall, Emeritus Reader
Centre for Health Services Studies
University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom


Figure 1. ‘A Real Birmingham Family’, 2014. Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/
commons/2/27/Real_Birmingham_Family_statue_-_Library_of_Birmingham_(15119604114).jpg, accessed on 1 May 2021.

This article focuses on the social/cultural representations of the statue of A Real Birmingham Family cast in bronze and unveiled in Britain’s second city in October 2014. It reveals a family comprising two local mixed-race sisters, both single mothers, and their sons, unanimously chosen from 372 families. Three of the four families shortlisted for the statue were ‘mixed-race’ families. The artwork came about through a partnership between the sculptress, Gillian Wearing, and the city’s Ikon Gallery. A number of different lay representations of the artwork have been identified, notably, that it is a ‘normal family with no fathers’ and that it is not a ‘typical family’. These are at variance with a representation based on an interpretation of the artwork and materials associated with its creation: that a nuclear family is one reality amongst many and that what constitutes a family should not be fixed. This representation destabilizes our notion of the family and redefines it as empirical, experiential, and first-hand, families being brought into recognition by those in the wider society who choose to nominate themselves as such. The work of Ian Hacking, Richard Jenkins, and others is drawn upon to contest the concept of ‘normality’. Further, statistical data are presented that show that there is now a plurality of family types with no one type dominating or meriting the title of ‘normal’. Finally, Wearing’s statues of families in Trentino and Copenhagen comprise an evolving body of cross-national public art that provides further context and meaning for this representation.

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Hawai′i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2021-06-03 19:52Z by Steven

Hawai′i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific

Duke University Press
September 2021
360 pages
17 illustrations
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1437-9
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1346-4

Nitasha Tamar Sharma, Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Hawaiʻi Is My Haven maps the context and contours of Black life in the Hawaiian Islands. This ethnography emerges from a decade of fieldwork with both Hawaiʻi-raised Black locals and Black transplants who moved to the Islands from North America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Nitasha Tamar Sharma highlights the paradox of Hawaiʻi as a multiracial paradise and site of unacknowledged anti-Black racism. While Black culture is ubiquitous here, African-descended people seem invisible. In this formerly sovereign nation structured neither by the US Black/White binary nor the one drop rule, non-White multiracials, including Black Hawaiians and Black Koreans, illustrate the coarticulation and limits of race and the native/settler divide. Despite erasure and racism, nonmilitary Black residents consider Hawaiʻi their haven, describing it as a place to “breathe” that offers the possibility of becoming local. Sharma’s analysis of race, indigeneity, and Asian settler colonialism shifts North American debates in Black and Native studies to the Black Pacific. Hawaiʻi Is My Haven illustrates what the Pacific offers members of the African diaspora and how they in turn illuminate race and racism in “paradise.”

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Hawaiʻi Is My Haven
  • 1. Over Two Centuries: The History of Black People in Hawaiʻi
  • 2. “Saltwater Negroes”: Black Locals, Multiracism, and Expansive Blackness
  • 3. “Less Pressure”: Black Transplants, Settler Colonialism, and a Radical Lens
  • 4. Racism in Paradise: AntiBlack Racism and Resistance in Hawaiʻi
  • 5. Embodying Kuleana: Negotiating Black and Native Positionality in Hawaiʻi
  • Conclusion: Identity↔Politics↔Knowledge
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Public Secrets: Race and Colour in Colonial and Independent Jamaica

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2020-06-22 19:42Z by Steven

Public Secrets: Race and Colour in Colonial and Independent Jamaica

Liverpool University Press
2019-09-10
280 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-789-62000-9

Henrice Altink, Professor of Modern History; Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre
University of York

Informed by critical race theory and based on a wide range of sources, including official sources, memoirs, and anthropological studies, this book examines multiple forms of racial discrimination in Jamaica and how they were talked about and experienced from the end of the First World War until the demise of democratic socialism in the 1980s. It also pays attention to practices devoid of racial content but which equally helped to sustain a society stratified by race and colour, such as voting qualifications. Case studies on the labour market, education, the family and legal system, among other areas, demonstrate the extent to which race and colour shaped social relations in the island in the decades preceding and following independence and argue that racial discrimination was a public secret – everybody knew it took place but few dared to openly discuss or criticise it. The book ends with an examination of race and colour in contemporary Jamaica to show that race and colour have lost little of their power since independence and offers some suggestions to overcome the silence on race to facilitate equality of opportunity for all.

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‘Racialization works differently here in Puerto Rico, do not bring your U.S.-centric ideas about race here!’

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2020-06-13 22:07Z by Steven

‘Racialization works differently here in Puerto Rico, do not bring your U.S.-centric ideas about race here!’

Black Perspectives
2020-03-03

Hilda Lloréns, Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Rhode Island


“FSA – T[enant] P[urchase] borrowers? by their house, Puerto Rico” – Jack Delano (Library of Congress)

This title is a variation of a statement I have heard during the last two decades as a professional anthropologist. I was reminded of it again recently, when a Puerto Rico-based colleague mentioned that it is common in the archipelago to think about the race research produced by U.S.-based Puerto Rican researchers as being tainted by U.S.-centric ideas about race. At its base, this assertion has the effect, and maybe even the goal from the outset, of discrediting the race research produced by those of us living in the Diaspora. But I believe there is more going on than just marking our research as suspect.

Because at this point I have heard variations of this opinion dozens of times, and particularly so by a subset of the archipelago’s intelligentsia, it is time to explore the ideological work this claim does. This brief analysis is less a defense of the validity of research like mine, and instead exposes how as a cultural construction in itself, this hegemonic statement is an example of how cultural nationalism and anti-Black racism warps even the brightest minds. While it is true that anti-Black racism takes on specific and locally contextual qualities, it is also true that the anti-Black racism experienced by evidently Black individuals throughout the American hemisphere has strikingly similar consequences: poverty and marginalization; lack of access to quality education, health care, employment, and a clean environment; police profiling and brutality; spatial segregation and territorial dispossession; denial of entry into restaurants, night clubs, stores, and country clubs; social marginalization and political exclusion; and the attempt to silence the voices of those who dare speak out against on-going racial violence and terror.

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How Emma Dabiri is changing the conversation around afro hair

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2020-03-07 00:19Z by Steven

How Emma Dabiri is changing the conversation around afro hair

Vogue (Australia)
2020-03-05

Eni Subair


Author Emma Dabiri of Don’t Touch My Hair. Image credits: Matthew Stone

The author of Don’t Touch My Hair — which illustrates the oppressive hair journey that black people have been on — wants to put an end to the discriminatory behaviour surrounding afro hair. Here, she unpicks her own experience and delves into the stigmatisation still held within society.

In February, 18-year-old Ruby Williams was awarded a sum of £8,500 (AU$16,634) after embarking on a three-year legal battle with her school in east London, having been singled out and sent home numerous times because her afro didn’t adhere to school regulations. Shockingly, the issue is ongoing in the UK, with the frequency of school exclusions for afro hair rapidly rising.

Emma Dabiri, author of 2019’s powerful Don’t Touch My Hair and a lecturer at SOAS University of London, is campaigning against the UK ruling currently in place around hair by asking members of the public to sign a petition to amend the Equality Act 2010. Currently, the act protects colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origins, but hair — specifically afro hair — is not a named “protected characteristic”. It’s a grey area that leaves students and employees open to being pulled up about their hair. Dabiri, who is of Nigerian and Irish descent, wants the law changed, not least because the mother of two fears her own children may one day face the same prejudice. “I have a seven-year-old who has had hairstyles other kids have been excluded for having,” she tells Vogue. “I want that to change before he goes to secondary school.”

She hopes her book, which illustrates the oppressive hair journey black people have been on, will help change the rhetoric and discriminatory behaviour around afro hair.

Here, Emma Dabiri tells Vogue why she’s rallying the masses to sign the petition, and why warped perceptions around black afro hair need to stop…

Read the entire interview here.

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Archives of Conjure: Stories of the Dead in Afrolatinx Cultures

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2020-03-06 18:05Z by Steven

Archives of Conjure: Stories of the Dead in Afrolatinx Cultures

Columbia University Press
March 2020
272 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780231194334
Hardcover ISBN: 9780231194327
E-book ISBN: 9780231550765

Solimar Otero, Professor of Folklore
Indiana University, Bloomington

Archives of Conjure

In Afrolatinx religious practices such as Cuban Espiritismo, Puerto Rican Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé, the dead tell stories. Communicating with and through mediums’ bodies, they give advice, make requests, and propose future rituals, creating a living archive that is coproduced by the dead. In this book, Solimar Otero explores how Afrolatinx spirits guide collaborative spiritual-scholarly activist work through rituals and the creation of material culture. By examining spirit mediumship through a Caribbean cross-cultural poetics, she shows how divinities and ancestors serve as active agents in shaping the experiences of gender, sexuality, and race.

Otero argues that what she calls archives of conjure are produced through residual transcriptions or reverberations of the stories of the dead whose archives are stitched, beaded, smoked, and washed into official and unofficial repositories. She investigates how sites like the ocean, rivers, and institutional archives create connected contexts for unlocking the spatial activation of residual transcriptions. Drawing on over ten years of archival research and fieldwork in Cuba, Otero centers the storytelling practices of Afrolatinx women and LGBTQ spiritual practitioners alongside Caribbean literature and performance. Archives of Conjure offers vital new perspectives on ephemerality, temporality, and material culture, unraveling undertheorized questions about how spirits shape communities of practice, ethnography, literature, and history and revealing the deeply connected nature of art, scholarship, and worship.

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Why Some Black Puerto Ricans Choose ‘White’ on the Census

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, United States on 2020-02-10 01:58Z by Steven

Why Some Black Puerto Ricans Choose ‘White’ on the Census

The New York Times
2020-02-09

Natasha S. Alford


A bomba dance class at the Corporación Piñones Se Integra community center in Loíza, P.R.
Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

The island has a long history of encouraging residents to identify as white, but there are growing efforts to raise awareness about racism.

LOÍZA, P.R. — A dozen dancers wearing bright, colorful ankle-length skirts gathered around five wooden drums. Their shoulders and hips pulsed with the percussion, an upbeat, African-inspired rhythm.

Loíza, a township founded by formerly enslaved Africans, is one of the many places in Puerto Rico where African-inspired traditions like the bomba dance workshop at the Corporación Piñones se Integra community center thrive.

But that doesn’t mean all of the people who live there would necessarily call themselves black.

More than three-quarters of Puerto Ricans identified as white on the last census, even though much of the population on the island has roots in Africa. That number is down from 80 percent 20 years ago, but activists and demographers say it is still inaccurate and they are working to get more Puerto Ricans of African descent to identify as black on the next census in an effort to draw attention to the island’s racial disparities…

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Alternate Roots: Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Genealogy Media

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Communications/Media Studies, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2020-01-31 20:06Z by Steven

Alternate Roots: Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Genealogy Media

University Press of Mississippi
June 2018
167 pages
14 b&w illustrations, 2 tables
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496817785
Paperback ISBN: 9781496828224

Christine Scodari, Professor of Media Studies and a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida

How popular media cultivates genealogy but buries its cultural context

In recent years, the media has attributed the increasing numbers of people producing family trees to the aging of baby boomers, a sense of mortality, a proliferation of internet genealogy sites, and a growing pride in ethnicity. A spate of new genealogy-themed television series and internet-driven genetic ancestry testing services have now emerged, capitalizing on the mapping of the human genome in 2003. This genealogical trend poses a need for critical analysis, particularly along the lines of race and ethnicity.

In contextual ways, as she intersperses an account of her own journey chronicling her Italian and Italian American family history, Christine Scodari lays out how family historians can understand intersections involving race and/or ethnicity and other identities inflecting families. Through engagement in and with genealogical texts and practices, such as the classic television series Roots, Ancestry. com, and Henry Louis Gates’s documentaries, Scodari also explains how to interpret their import to historical and ongoing relations of power beyond the family. Perspectives on hybridity and intersectionality gesture toward making connections not only between and among identities, but also between localized findings and broader contexts that might, given only cursory attention, seem tangential to chronicling a family history.

Given current tools, texts, practices, cultural contexts, and technologies, Scodari’s study determines whether a critical genealogy around race, ethnicity, and intersectional identities is viable. She delves into the implications of adoption, orientation, and migration while also investigating her own genealogy, examining the racial, ethnic experiences of her forebears and positioning them within larger, cross-cultural contexts.

There is little research on genealogical media in relation to race and ethnicity. Thus, Scodari blends cultural studies, critical media studies, and her own genealogy as a critical pursuit to interrogate issues bound up in the nuts-and-bolts of engaging in family history.

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