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Area and Ethnic Studies > African American and African Diaspora Studies

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Beyond Blackface Cover

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Beyond Blackface

African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930

Edited by W. Fitzhugh Brundage

This manuscript is a collection of thirteen essays looking at the formative decades in the history of modern American mass culture. Bringing together original work from sixteen distinguished scholars in various disciplines, ranging from theater and literature to history and music, this manuscript addresses the complex roles of black performers, entrepreneurs, and consumers in American mass culture. With subjects ranging from representations of race in sheet music illustrations to African American interest in Haitian culture and with topics spanning the end of the nineteenth century to the Great Depression, these essays expand the discussion of both black culture and American popular culture during the early twentieth century. This anthology presents a fresh and multidisciplinary look at the history of African Americans and mass culture.

Beyond Bondage Cover

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Beyond Bondage

Free Women of Color in the Americas

David Barry Gaspar

David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clark Hine's Beyond Bondage outlines the restricted spheres within which free women of color, by virtue of gender and racial restrictions, were forced to carve out their existences. Although their freedom, represented by the acquisition of property, respectability, and opportunity, always remained precarious, the collection supports the surprising conclusion that women of color often sought and obtained these advantages more successfully than their male counterparts.

Beyond Home Plate Cover

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Beyond Home Plate

Jackie Robinson on Life After Baseball

by Michael Long

When he first took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke a color barrier that reached back sixty years to the very origins of American baseball. He would go on to play in six World Series and help the Dodgers win the 1955 World Championship. But Robinson was much more than just a baseball player. This book collects columns which Robinson wrote primarily for the New York Post and the New York Amsterdam News, as well as including excerpts of letters between Robinson and politicians such as Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy. These writings portray Robinson as a deeply passionate, intelligent, and eloquent man with strongly-held convictions about the Civil Rights Movement and the political decisions which shaped America in the 1960s and ‘70s. He was also a devoted husband and father conflicted by his ability to provide the best for his children and his desire to keep them grounded in the struggles facing all African Americans at the time. Each column is preceded by a brief contextualizing introduction by Long, and Robinson’s columns are broken into three themes: “On Baseball and Golf,” “On Family and Friends,” and “On Civil Rights.” The brevity of the columns and Robinson’s vivid imagery and compelling voice make this an absorbing and often very moving read.

Beyond the White Negro Cover

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Beyond the White Negro

Empathy and Anti-Racist Reading

Kimberly Chabot Davis

Critics often characterize white consumption of African American culture as a form of theft that echoes the fantasies of 1950s-era bohemians, or "White Negroes," who romanticized black culture as anarchic and sexually potent. In Beyond the White Negro, Kimberly Chabot Davis claims such a view fails to describe the varied politics of racial crossover in the past fifteen years.Davis analyzes how white engagement with African American novels, film narratives, and hip-hop can help form anti-racist attitudes that may catalyze social change and racial justice. Though acknowledging past failures to establish cross-racial empathy, she focuses on examples that show avenues for future progress and change. Her study of ethnographic data from book clubs and college classrooms shows how engagement with African American culture and pedagogical support can lead to the kinds of white self-examination that make empathy possible. The result is a groundbreaking text that challenges the trend of focusing on society's failures in achieving cross-racial empathy and instead explores possible avenues for change.

Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930–1942 Cover

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Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930–1942

Christopher Wilkinson

Biomedical Ambiguity Cover

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Biomedical Ambiguity

Race, Asthma, and the Contested Meaning of Genetic Research in the Caribbean

Steadily increasing numbers of Americans have been diagnosed with asthma in recent years, attracting the attention of biomedical researchers, including those searching for a genetic link to the disease. The high rate of asthma among African American children has made race significant to this search for genetic predisposition. One of the primary sites for this research today is Barbados. The Caribbean nation is considered optimal because of its predominantly black population. At the same time, the government of Barbados has promoted the country for such research in an attempt to take part in the biomedical future.

In Biomedical Ambiguity, Ian Whitmarsh describes how he followed a team of genetic researchers to Barbados, where he did fieldwork among not only the researchers but also government officials, medical professionals, and the families being tested. Whitmarsh reveals how state officials and medical professionals make the international biomedical research part of state care, bundling together categories of disease populations, biological race, and asthma. He points to state and industry perceptions of mothers as medical caretakers in genetic research that proves to be inextricable from contested practices around nation, race, and family.

The reader's attention is drawn to the ambiguity in these practices, as researchers turn the plurality of ethnic identities and illness meanings into a science of asthma and race at the same time that medical practitioners and families make the opaque science significant to patient experience. Whitmarsh shows that the contradictions introduced by this "misunderstanding" paradoxically enable the research to move forward.

Birth of a Notion; Or, The Half Ain't Never Been Told Cover

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Birth of a Notion; Or, The Half Ain't Never Been Told

A Narrative Account with Entertaining Passages of the State of Minstrelsy & of America & the True Relation Thereof

as Written by Bill Harris

A critical look at black identity in American history and popular culture as told from a performative African American perspective.

Black Cadet in a White Bastion Cover

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Black Cadet in a White Bastion

Charles Young at West Point

Brian G. Shellum

Born in slavery, Charles Young (1864–1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first black U.S. military attaché, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Unlike the two black graduates before him, Young went on to a long military career, eventually achieving the rank of colonel. After Young, racial intolerance closed the door to blacks at the academy, and forty-seven years passed before another African American graduated from West Point.

Brian G. Shellum’s biography of Young’s years at West Point chronicles the enormous challenges that Young faced and provides a valuable window into life at West Point in the 1880s. Academic difficulties, hazing, and social ostracism dogged him throughout his academy years. He succeeded through a combination of focused intellect, hard work, and a sense of humor. By graduation, he had made white friends, and his motivation and determination had won him the grudging respect of many of his classmates and professors.

Until now, scholars of African American and military history have neglected this important U.S. Army trailblazer. Young’s experiences at the U.S. Military Academy, his triumph over adversity, and his commitment to success forged the mold for his future achievements as an Army officer, even as the United States slipped further into the degradation and waste of racial intolerance.

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Black Camera

Vol. 1 (2009) through current issue

Black Camera is devoted to the study and documentation of the black cinematic experience and is the only scholarly film journal of its kind in the United States. It regularly features essays and interviews that engage film in social as well as political distribution, and production of film in local, regional, national, and transnational settings and environments.

The Black Carib Wars Cover

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The Black Carib Wars

Freedom, Survival, and the Making of the Garifuna

Christopher Taylor

In The Black Carib Wars, Christopher Taylor offers the most thoroughly researched history of the struggle of the Garifuna people to preserve their freedom on the island of St. Vincent.

Today, thousands of Garifuna people live in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the United States, preserving their unique culture and speaking a language that directly descends from that spoken in the Caribbean at the time of Columbus. All trace their origins back to St. Vincent where their ancestors were native Carib Indians and shipwrecked or runaway West African slaves--hence the name by which they were known to French and British colonialists: Black Caribs.

In the 1600s they encountered Europeans as adversaries and allies. But from the early 1700s, white people, particularly the French, began to settle on St. Vincent. The treaty of Paris in 1763 handed the island to the British who wanted the Black Caribs' land to grow sugar. Conflict was inevitable, and in a series of bloody wars punctuated by uneasy peace the Black Caribs took on the might of the British Empire. Over decades leaders such as Tourouya, Bigot, and Chatoyer organized the resistance of a society which had no central authority but united against the external threat. Finally, abandoned by their French allies, they were defeated, and the survivors deported to Central America in 1797.

The Black Carib Wars draws on extensive research in Britain, France, and St. Vincent to offer a compelling narrative of the formative years of the Garifuna people.





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