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African Tales

Compiled by Harold Scheub

The latest work from Harold Scheub, one of the world's leading scholars of African folktales, is the broadest collection yet assembled with tales from the entire continent of Africa, north to south. It brings together mythic, fantastic, and coming-of-age tales, some transcribed more than a hundred years ago, others dating to modern-day Africa. Scheub includes the work of storytellers from major African language groups, as well as many storytellers whose work is not often heard outside of Africa. This anthology offers a classroom-ready collection that should appeal to any scholar of African literature and culture. Realizing that these tales are part of a dying art, Scheub writes for the inner ear in everyone, bringing an oral tradition to life in written form.

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African Video Movies and Global Desires

A Ghanaian History

Carmela Garritano

African Video Movies and Global Desires is the first full-length scholarly study of Ghana’s commercial video industry, an industry that has produced thousands of movies over the last twenty years and has grown into an influential source of cultural production. Produced and consumed under circumstances of dire shortage and scarcity, African video movies narrate the desires and anxieties created by Africa’s incorporation into the global cultural economy.

Drawing on archival and ethnographic research conducted in Ghana over a ten-year period, as well as close readings of a number of individual movies, this book brings the insights of historical context as well as literary and film analysis to bear on a range of movies and the industry as a whole. Garritano makes a significant contribution to the examination of gender norms and the ideologies these movies produce.

African Video Movies and Global Desires is a historically and theoretically informed cultural history of an African visual genre that will only continue to grow in size and influence.

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African Women Writing Resistance

An Anthology of Contemporary Voices

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

African Women Writing Resistance is the first transnational anthology to focus on women’s strategies of resistance to the challenges they face in Africa today.  The anthology brings together personal narratives, testimony, interviews, short stories, poetry, performance scripts, folktales, and lyrics. Thematically organized, it presents women’s writing on such issues as intertribal and interethnic conflicts, the degradation of the environment, polygamy, domestic abuse, the controversial traditional practice of female genital cutting, Sharia law, intergenerational tensions, and emigration and exile.
    Contributors include internationally recognized authors and activists such as Wangari Maathai and Nawal El Saadawi, as well as a host of vibrant new voices from all over the African continent and from the African diaspora. Interdisciplinary in scope, this collection provides an excellent introduction to contemporary African women’s literature and highlights social issues that are particular to Africa but are also of worldwide concern.  It is an essential reference for students of African studies, world literature, anthropology, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, and women’s studies.

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Africans in Colonial Mexico

Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570-1640

Herman L. Bennett

"This book charts new directions in thinking about the construction of new world identities.... The way in which [Bennett] integrates race, gender, and the tension between canon and secular law into his analysis will inspire re-examination of earlier studies of marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean." -- Judith A. Byfield

Colonial Mexico was home to the largest population of free and slave Africans in the New World. Africans in Colonial Mexico explores how they learned to make their way in a culture of Spanish and Roman Catholic absolutism by using the legal institutions of church and state to create a semblance of cultural autonomy. From secular and ecclesiastical court records, Bennett reconstructs the lives of slave and free blacks, their regulation by the government and by the Church, the impact of the Inquisition, their legal status in marriage, and their rights and obligations as Christian subjects. His findings demonstrate the malleable nature of African identities in the Atlantic world, as well as the ability of Africans to deploy their own psychological resources to survive displacement and oppression.

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Africans to Spanish America

Expanding the Diaspora

Sherwin K. Bryant

Africans to Spanish America expands the Diaspora framework to include Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Cuba, exploring the connections and disjunctures between colonial Latin America and the African Diaspora in the Spanish empires. Analysis of the regions of Mexico and the Andes opens up new questions of community formation that incorporated Spanish legal strategies in secular and ecclesiastical institutions as well as articulations of multiple African identities. The volume is arranged around three themes: identity construction in the Americas; the struggle by enslaved and free people to present themselves as civilized, Christian, and resistant to slavery; and issues of cultural exclusion and inclusion._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Joan C. Bristol, Nancy E. van Deusen, Leo J. Garofalo, Herbert S. Klein, Charles Beatty-Medina, Karen Y. Morrison, Rachel Sarah O'Toole, Frank "Trey" Proctor III, and Michele Reid-Vazquez.

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Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo

From Plantations to the Slums

Rafael Ocasio

Costumbrismo, which refers to depictions of life in Latin America during the nineteenth century, introduced some of the earliest black themes in Cuban literature. Rafael Ocasio delves into this literature to offer up a new perspective on the development of Cuban identity, as influenced by black culture and religion, during the sugar cane boom.

Comments about the slave trade and the treatment of slaves were often censored in Cuban publications; nevertheless white Costumbrista writers reported on a vast catalogue of stereotypes, religious beliefs, and musical folklore, and on rich African traditions in major Cuban cities. Exploring rare and seldom discussed nineteenth-century texts, Ocasio offers insight into the nuances of black representation in Costumbrismo while analyzing authors such as Suárez y Romero, an abolitionist who wrote from the perspective of a plantation owner.

Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo expands the idea of what texts constitute Costumbrismo and debunks the traditional notion that this writing reveals little about the Afro-Cuban experience. The result is a novel examination of how white writers' representations of black culture heavily inform our current understanding of nineteenth-century Afro-Cuban culture and national identity.

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Afro-Cuban Tales

Lydia Cabrera

As much a storyteller as an ethnographer, Lydia Cabrera was captivated by a strange and magical new world revealed to her by her Afro-Cuban friends in early twentieth-century Havana. In Afro-Cuban Tales this world comes to teeming life, introducing English-speaking readers to a realm of tenuous boundaries between the natural and the supernatural, deities and mortals, the spiritual and the seemingly inanimate.

Here readers will find a vibrant, imaginative record of African culture transplanted to Cuba and transformed over time, a passionate and subversive alternative to the dominant Western culture of the Americas. In this charmed realm of myth and legend, imaginative flights, and hard realities, Cabrera shows us a world turned upside down. In this domain guinea hens can make dour Asturians and the king of Spain dance; little fat cooking pots might prepare their own meals; the pope can send encyclicals about pumpkins; and officials can be defeated by the shrewdness of turtles. The first English translation of one of the most important writers on African culture in the Americas, the collection provides a fascinating view of how African traditions, myths, stories, and religions traveled to the New World—of how, in their tales, Africans in the Americas created a New World all their own.

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Afro-Cuban Theology

Religion, Race, Culture, and Identity

Michelle A. Gonzalez

The first book to compare Cuban American and African American religiosity, Afro-Cuban Theology argues that Afro-Cuban religiosity and culture are central to understanding the Cuban and Cuban American condition. Gonzalez interprets this saturation of the Afro-Cuban as transcending race and affecting all Cubans and Cuban Americans in spite of their pigmentation or self-identification. Building on a historical overview of the intersection of race, religion, and nationhood, the author explores the manner in which devotion to La Caridad del Cobre, popular religion, and Cuban letters inform an Afro-Cuban theology.

This interdisciplinary study draws from various theological schools as well as the disciplines of history, literary studies, and ethnic studies. The primary discipline is systematic theology, with special attention to black and Latino/a theologies. Far from being disconnected subfields, they are interrelated areas within theological studies. Gonzalez provides a broad overview of the Cuban and Cuban American communities, emphasizing the manner in which the intersection of race and religion have functioned within the construction of Cuban and Cuban American identities. The Roman Catholic Church's role in this history, as well as the preservation of African religious practices and consequent formation of Afro-Cuban religions, are paramount.

Also groundbreaking is the collaborative spirit between black and Latino/a that underlines this work. The author proposes an expansion of racial identity recognizing the different cultures that exist within U.S. racial contexts--specifically a model of collaboration versus dialogue between black and Latino/a theologies.

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Dancing between Myth and Reality

By Anita González

This study of African-based dance in Mexico explores the influence of African people and their cultural productions on Mexican society, showing how dance can embody social histories and relationships.

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Afro Orientalism

Bill V. Mullen

As early as 1914, in his pivotal essay “The World Problem of the Color Line,” W. E. B. Du Bois was charting a search for Afro-Asian solidarity and for an international anticolonialism. In Afro-Orientalism, Bill Mullen traces the tradition of revolutionary thought and writing developed by African American and Asian American artists and intellectuals in response to Du Bois’s challenge.

Afro-Orientalism unfolds here as a distinctive strand of cultural and political work that contests the longstanding, dominant discourse about race and nation first fully named in Edward Said’s Orientalism. Mullen tracks Afro-Asian engagement with U.S. imperialism—including writings by Richard Wright, Grace and James Boggs, Robert F. Williams, and Fred Ho—and companion struggles against racism and capitalism around the globe. To this end, he offers Afro-Orientalism as an antidote to essentialist, race-based, or narrow conceptions of ethnic studies and postcolonial studies, calling on scholars in these fields to re-imagine their critical enterprises as mutually constituting and politically interdependent.

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