Double Consciousness in the Work of Helen Oyeyemi and Diana Evans

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2010-03-25 18:19Z by Steven

Double Consciousness in the Work of Helen Oyeyemi and Diana Evans

Women: A Cultural Review
Volume 20, Issue 3 (December 2009)
pages 277-286
DOI: 10.1080/09574040903285735

Pilar Cuder-Domnguez, Associate Professor
University of Huelva, Spain

The first novels published by Helen Oyeyemi and Diana Evans feature twins of mixed-race parentage—a Nigerian mother and an English father—growing up in Britain. Eight-year-old Jessamy in Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl is unaware that she was born a twin, but on travelling to Nigeria she encounters TillyTilly, a troublesome girl she seems unable to shake off. Georgia and Bessi in Evans’s 26a are identical twins who share all their experiences until a visit to their mother’s homeland of Nigeria opens a breach in their perfect union. Both novels were published in 2005 and display certain commonalities of plot, characterisation, location and stylistic choice. Oyeyemi and Evans both explore Yoruba beliefs surrounding the special nature of twins—half way between the world of humans and gods. If one twin dies, parents commission a carving called ‘ibeji‘ to honour the deceased and to provide a location for their soul. The specialness attributed to twins by the Yoruba is compounded in both novels by the fact that they are mixed-race and by the diverging locations, cultures and languages of their parents. Thus, this article addresses how the two writers deploy Yoruba beliefs in order to raise questions about the cultural grounding of their characters’ identities, and how being twins becomes a metaphor for the ‘double consciousness’ of being black and British.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Africa in Mexico: A Repudiated Heritage/África en México: una herencia repudiada

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Social Science on 2010-01-28 20:51Z by Steven

Africa in Mexico: A Repudiated Heritage/África en México: una herencia repudiada

Edwin Mellen Press
140 pages
ISBN10: 0-7734-5216-8; ISBN13: 978-0-7734-5216-9

Marco Polo Hernández Cuevas, Asssociate Professor of Spanish
North Carolina Central University

This study explores the African presence in Mexico and the impact it has had on the development of Mexican national identity over the past centuries. By analyzing Mexican miscegenation from a perspective identified as mestizaje positivo (positive miscegenation) where an equality exists among all ethnic heritages are equal forming the glue that binds together the new ethnicity, it reveals that Mexico’s African heritage is alive and well. In the end, the author calls for further examinations into the damage caused to the majority of the Mexican population by a Eurocentric mentality that marks them as inferior.

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Go-Betweens and the Colonization of Brazil: 1500-1600

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2010-01-22 22:12Z by Steven

Go-Betweens and the Colonization of Brazil: 1500-1600

University of Texas Press
6 x 9 in.
391 pp., 20 figures, 11 maps, 2 tables
ISBN: 978-0-292-71276-8

Alida C. Metcalf, Harris Masterson, Jr. Professor of History
Rice University, Houston, Texas

Doña Marina (La Malinche)PocahontasSacagawea—their names live on in historical memory because these women bridged the indigenous American and European worlds, opening the way for the cultural encounters, collisions, and fusions that shaped the social and even physical landscape of the modern Americas. But these famous individuals were only a few of the many thousands of people who, intentionally or otherwise, served as “go-betweens” as Europeans explored and colonized the New World.

In this innovative history, Alida Metcalf thoroughly investigates the many roles played by go-betweens in the colonization of sixteenth-century Brazil. She finds that many individuals created physical links among Europe, Africa, and Brazil—explorers, traders, settlers, and slaves circulated goods, plants, animals, and diseases. Intercultural liaisons produced mixed-race children. At the cultural level, Jesuit priests and African slaves infused native Brazilian traditions with their own religious practices, while translators became influential go-betweens, negotiating the terms of trade, interaction, and exchange. Most powerful of all, as Metcalf shows, were those go-betweens who interpreted or represented new lands and peoples through writings, maps, religion, and the oral tradition. Metcalf’s convincing demonstration that colonization is always mediated by third parties has relevance far beyond the Brazilian case, even as it opens a revealing new window on the first century of Brazilian history.

Read an excerpt here.

Table of Contents

  • A Note on Spelling and Citation
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Go-betweens
  • 2. Encounter
  • 3. Possession
  • 4. Conversion
  • 5. Biology
  • 6. Slavery
  • 7. Resistance
  • 8. Power
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Sugar & Slate

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2009-12-22 05:16Z by Steven

Sugar & Slate

Planet Books
January 2002
192 pages
ISBN-10: 0954088107
ISBN-13: 978-0954088101
8.1 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches

Charlotte Williams, Professor of Social Work
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year, 2003

A mixed-race young woman, the daughter of a white Welsh-speaking mother and black father from Guyana, grows up in a small town on the coast of north Wales. From there she travels to Africa, the Caribbean and finally back to Wales. What begins as a journey becomes a fascinating confrontation with herself and with the idea of Wales and Welshness.

Sugar and Slate is a remarkable personal memoir that speaks to the wider experience of mixed-race Britons, characterised by its constant pull of to-ing and fro-ing, movement and dislocation, going away and coming back with always a sense of being ‘half home’. It is a story of Welshness and a story of Wales but above all a story for those of us who look over our shoulder across the sea to some other place.

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‘Toubab La!’ Literary Representations of Mixed-Race Characters in the African Diaspora

Posted in Africa, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom, United States on 2009-11-27 00:35Z by Steven

‘Toubab La!’ Literary Representations of Mixed-Race Characters in the African Diaspora

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
July 2007
453 pages
ISBN13: 9781847182319
ISBN: 1-84718-231-3

Ginette Curry, Professor of English
Florida International University

The book is an examination of mixed-race characters from writers in the United States, The French and British Caribbean islands (Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and Jamaica), Europe (France and England) and Africa (Burkina Faso, South Africa, Botswana and Senegal). The objective of this study is to capture a realistic view of the literature of the African diaspora as it pertains to biracial and multiracial people. For example, the expression “Toubab La!” as used in the title, is from the Wolof ethnic group in Senegal, West Africa. It means “This is a white person” or “This is a black person who looks or acts white.” It is used as a metaphor to illustrate multiethnic people’s plight in many areas of the African diaspora and how it has evolved. The analysis addresses the different ways multiracial characters look at the world and how the world looks at them. These characters experience historical, economic, sociological and emotional realities in various environments from either white or black people. Their lineage as both white and black determines a new self, making them constantly search for their identity. Each section of the manuscript provides an in-depth analysis of specific authors’ novels that is a window into their true experiences.

The first section is a study of mixed race characters in three acclaimed contemporary novels from the United States. James McBride’s The Color of Water (1996), Danzy Senna’s Caucasia (1998) and Rebecca Walker’s Black White and Jewish (2001) reveal the conflicting dynamics of being biracial in today’s American society. The second section is an examination of mixed-race characters in the following French Caribbean novels: Mayotte Capécia’s I Am a Martinican Woman (1948), Michèle Lacrosil’s Cajou (1961) and Ravines du Devant-Jour (1993) by Raphaël Confiant. Section three is about their literary representations in Derek Walcott’s What the Twilight Says (1970), Another Life (1973), Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967) and Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1995) from the British Caribbean islands. Section four is an in-depth analysis of their plight in novels written by contemporary mulatto writers from Europe such as Marie N’Diaye’s Among Family (1997), Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000) and Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara (1997). Finally, the last section of the book is a study of novels from West African and South African writers. The analysis of Monique Ilboudo’s Le Mal de Peau (2001), Bessie Head’s A Woman Alone: Autobiographical Writings (1990) and Abdoulaye Sadji’s Nini, Mulâtresse du Sénégal (1947) concludes this literary journey that takes the readers through several continents at different points in time.

Overall, this comprehensive study of mixed-race characters in the literature of the African diaspora reveals not only the old but also the new ways they decline, contest and refuse racial clichés. Likewise, the book unveils how these characters resist, create, reappropriate and revise fixed forms of identity in the African diaspora of the 20th and 21st century. Most importantly, it is also an examination of how the authors themselves deal with the complex reality of a multiracial identity.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
    • Chapter 4: Mayotte Capécia’s I am a Martinican Woman (1948): “My father is Black, My Mother is Brown, and I, Am I White?” (Martinican Riddle)
    • Chapter 5: Michèle Lacrosil’s Cajou (1961): The Anti-Narcissus
    • Chapter 6: Raphaël Confiant’s Ravines du Devant-Jour (1993): Ethnostereotypes in Martinique
    • Chapter 7: The Racial Paradox of Derek Walcott in What the Twilight Says (1970), Derek Walcott: Another life (1973) and Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967)
    • Chapter 8: Michelle Cliff’s Abeng (1995): A Near-White Jamaican Woman’s Quest for Identity
    • Chapter 9: Marie N’Diaye’s Among Family (1997): A Desperate Search for Caucasian Identity
    • Chapter 10: Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000): The Concept of Englishness in the 21st Century
    • Chapter 11: Bernardine Evaristo’s Lara (1997): Transculturality in England: Oyinbo, Whitey, Morena, Nig Nog, Nigra!
    • Chapter 12: Monique Ilboudo’s Le Mal de peau (2001): Colonization and Forced Hybridity
    • Chapter 13: Bessie Head’s A Woman Alone: Autobiographical Writings (1990): White-on-Black and Black-on-Black Racial Oppression in Southern Africa
    • Chapter 14: Abdoulaye Sadji’s Nini, Mulâtresse du Sénégal (1947): “Toubab La!”
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited
  • Primary Sources
  • Critical Sources
  • Index

Read a preview  here.

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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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