Between Totem And Taboo: Black Man, White Woman in Francographic Literature

Posted in Africa, Books, Europe, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2009-11-23 21:45Z by Steven

Between Totem And Taboo: Black Man, White Woman in Francographic Literature

University of Exeter Press
292 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9780859896498
BIC Code: 1HFD, 2ADF, 3JF, 3JH, 3JJ

Roger Little

Between Totem and Taboo picks its way judiciously through a minefield of prejudice, myth and stereotypes.  It is the first book to explore the literary representation by authors black and white, male and female, of interracial relations between France and her former territories in West Africa through the special nexus of the white woman and the black man.

Presented as a text-based chronological exploration of the relationship from 1740 to the present day, it reveals how racism distorted such relations for a quarter of a millennium.  It will fascinate anyone seriously interested in Black studies, Women’s studies and Postcolonial studies, who will find in it not only many unknown or unconsidered texts but a new angle of approach to their research.  All quotations are in French and English.

Roger Little was Professor of French (1776) at Trinity College Dublin until his retirement in 1998. He has an outstanding record of scholarship in French and francophone writing, with particular interests in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. His academic work has mainly concentrated on modern French poetry and the representation of Blacks in Francographic literature. He has edited several volumes of Textes littéraires for University of Exeter Press. The French government has conferred upon him the rank of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and he has been awarded the Prix de l’Académie française: médaille de vermeil du rayonnement de la langue française.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Some Key Dates
  • Introduction: Between Totem and Taboo
  • 1. Eighteenth-century Enwhitenment
  • 2. From Taboo to Totem
  • 3. Traditions and Transitions
  • 4. Opposite genders, Opposite Agendas
  • 5. The French Empire Writes Back
  • 6. Struggles for Independence
  • 7. The Freedom to Choose
  • 8. Liberty and Licence
  • 9. Full Circle
  • Conclusion: Beyond Difference and Indifference
  • Notes
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index
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Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Cultural Diversity

Posted in Books, Monographs, New Media, Social Science on 2009-11-23 20:43Z by Steven

Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Cultural Diversity

Prometheus Books
336 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59102-767-6

Guy P. Harrison

The concept of race has had a powerful impact on history and continues to shape the world today in profound ways. Most people derive their attitudes about race from their family, culture, and education. Very few, however, are aware that there are vast differences between the popular notions of race and the scientific view of human diversity. Yet even among scientists, who understand the current evidence, there is great controversy regarding the definition of the term race or even the usefulness of thinking in terms of race at all.

Drawing on research from diverse sources and interviews with key scientists, award-winning journalist Guy P. Harrison surveys the current state of a volatile, important, and confusing subject. Harrison’s thorough approach explores all sides of the issue, including such questions as these:

  • If analysis of the human genome reveals that all human beings are 99.9% alike, how meaningful are racial differences?
  • Is the concept of race merely a cultural invention?
  • If race distinctions are at least partially based in biological reality, how do we decide the number of races? Are there just three or maybe 3 million?
  • What do studies of racial attitudes reveal? Are we all, in one way or another, racists?
  • How does race correlate with environmental and geographical differences?
  • Are race-based drugs a good idea?
  • How does race influence intelligence, athletic ability, and love interests?

Harrison delves into these and many more intriguing, controversial, and important questions in this enlightening book. After reading Race and Reality, you will never think about race in the same way again.

Guy P. Harrison (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands) is the author of the highly acclaimed 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God and Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity. He has won several international awards for his writing, including the World Health Organization‘s award for health reporting and the Commonwealth Media Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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What Answer?

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2009-11-23 20:15Z by Steven

What Answer?

Prometheus Books
Originally Published in 1868
316 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59102-050-9

Anna E. Dickinson

With an Introduction by

J. Matthew Gallman, Professor of History
University of Florida

This first and only novel by Anna E. Dickinson, a well-known 19th-century orator, abolitionist, and advocate of racial equality and women’s rights, attracted tremendous interest when it first appeared in the fall of 1868, and was enthusiastically endorsed by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Set in the midst of the Civil War, this controversial work of fiction traces the tragic history of an interracial marriage, which is doomed to disaster by the intolerance of a northern society that refuses to accept racial equality. The central love story provoked strong reactions from supporters and critics alike. Dickinson’s friends praised the power of her tale and the poignancy of the lovers’ fate, while some critics voiced disgust at the very notion of miscegenation. To portray such a relationship only three years after the Civil War was to many an act of remarkable audacity.

Though the work will never be praised as a masterful literary creation, its themes of racial tension and justice have given it enduring value. Also lending the story interest are Dickinson’s impassioned descriptions of two infamous historical incidents – the terrible New York City Draft Riots of July 1863 and the storming of Fort Wagner by black troops of the famed 54th Massachusetts regiment. Even more important is the glimpse she provides into the conflicted attitudes of average white Northern citizens toward blacks just after the War. A scene on a Philadelphia streetcar depicting the mixed reactions of the passengers to a confrontation between a drunken white bigot and a wounded black soldier seems to forecast the Rosa Parks bus incident and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement almost one hundred years later.

With an interesting and informative introduction by J. Matthew Gallman, this new edition of a unique work long out of print will be welcome in courses on African American and American history.

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Bayou Folk

Posted in Books, Louisiana, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2009-11-23 18:42Z by Steven

Bayou Folk

Prometheus Books
Originally Published by Houghton Mifflin in 1894
Pages: 286
Paperback ISBN: 1-57392-975-1

Kate Chopin

The author who today is probably best known for her novel The Awakening initially established her literary reputation with short stories about life in rural Louisiana during the late nineteenth century. Born Katherine O’Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri, she later married Oscar Chopin, a Creole cotton trader and commission merchant, and lived in and around New Orleans for more than a decade until her husband’s death. During these years, while raising six children on a Southern plantation, Chopin became acquainted with Creoles, Cajuns, and newly freed blacks. After her husband’s death she returned to St. Louis and began writing, drawing from her recent experience in Louisiana to create her fiction.

The stories collected in Bayou Folk present remarkably vivid snapshots of daily life in a now vanished world. Many of them highlight the relations between blacks and whites in a society where the rules of engagement still reflected the entrenched patterns of slavery some two decades after the Civil War. As she was ahead of her time regarding women’s rights in The Awakening, where she depicted a woman unafraid to throw off traditional restraints, Chopin was also farsighted about race relations in Bayou Folk. Perhaps the story Désirée’s Baby about the birth of a mixed-race baby to two ‘white’ parents best expresses the uneasy relationship between blacks and whites in the old South, and the moral outrage of its strict codes against miscegenation.

Chopin’s gifts for capturing the dialects of the region and for telling a compelling story in memorable vignettes provide the reader with a richly rewarding experience.

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Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Canada, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2009-11-23 02:50Z by Steven


Wilfrid Laurier University Press
December 2004
184 pages
ISBN13: 978-0-88920-444-7

Velma Demerson

On a May morning in 1939, eighteen-year-old Velma Demerson and her lover were having breakfast when two police officers arrived to take her away. Her crime was loving a Chinese man, a “crime” that was compounded by her pregnancy and subsequent mixed-race child. Sentenced to a home for wayward girls, Demerson was then transferred (along with forty-six other girls) to Toronto’s Mercer Reformatory for Females. The girls were locked in their cells for twelve hours a day and required to work in the on-site laundry and factory. They also endured suspect medical examinations. When Demerson was finally released after ten months’ incarceration weeks of solitary confinement, abusive medical treatments, and the state’s apprehension of her child, her marriage to her lover resulted in the loss of her citizenship status.

This is the story of how Demerson, and so many other girls, were treated as criminals or mentally defective individuals, even though their worst crime might have been only their choice of lover. Incorrigible is a survivor’s narrative. In a period that saw the rise of psychiatry, legislation against interracial marriage, and a populist movement that believed in eradicating disease and sin by improving the purity of Anglo-Saxon stock, Velma Demerson, like many young women, found herself confronted by powerful social forces. This is a history of some of those who fell through the cracks of the criminal code, told in a powerful first-person voice.

Velma Demerson is a widow, and mother of three children—the first child, the son of her interracial marriage, died at age twenty-six. She has worked throughout her life in a variety of positions, mostly as a secretary for governments (provincial and federal) and lawyers. She is self-educated. This is her first book.

Read an excerpt here.

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