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History > Latin American and Caribbean History

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A Black corps d'élite Cover

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A Black corps d'élite

an Egyptian Sudanese conscript battalion with the French Army in Mexico, 1863-1867, and its survivors in subsequent African history

Richard Leslie. Hill

For several years, the armies of Napoleon III deployed some 450 Muslim Sudanese slave soldiers in Veracruz, the port of Mexico City. As in the other case of Western hemisphere military slavery (the West India Regiments, a British unit in existence 1795-1815), the Sudanese were imported from Africa in the hopes that they would better survive the tropical diseases that so terribly afflicted European soldiers. In both cases, the Africans did indeed fulfill these expectations. The mixture of cultures embodied by this event has piqued the interest of several historians, so it is by no means unknown. Hill and Hogg provide a particularly thorough, if unimaginative, account of this exotic interlude, explaining its background, looking in detail at the battle record in Mexico, and figuring out who exactly made up the battalion. Much in their account is odd and interesting, for example, the Sudanese superiority to Austrian troops and their festive nine-day spree in Paris on the emperor's tab. The authors also assess the episode's longer-term impact on the Sudan, showing that the veterans of Mexico, having learnt much from their extended exposure to French military practices, rose quickly in the ranks, then taught these methods to others.

 

Black in Latin America Cover

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Black in Latin America

Henry Louis Gates Jr., 0, 0

Black Labor Migration in Caribbean Guatemala, 1882–1923 Cover

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Black Labor Migration in Caribbean Guatemala, 1882–1923

Frederick Douglass Opie

In the late nineteenth century, many Central American governments and countries sought to fill low-paying jobs and develop their economies by recruiting black American and West Indian laborers. Frederick Opie offers a revisionist interpretation of these workers, who were often depicted as simple victims with little, if any, enduring legacy.

The Guatemalan government sought to build an extensive railroad system in the 1880s, and actively recruited foreign labor. For poor workers of African descent, immigrating to Guatemala was seen as an opportunity to improve their lives and escape from the racism of the Jim Crow U.S. South and the French and British colonial Caribbean.

Using primary and secondary sources as well as ethnographic data, Opie details the struggles of these workers who were ultimately inspired to organize by the ideas of Marcus Garvey. Regularly suffering class- and race-based attacks and persecution, black laborers frequently met such attacks with resistance. Their leverage--being able to shut down the railroad--was crucially important to the revolutionary movements in 1897 and 1920.

Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic Cover

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Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic

Melina Pappademos

While it was not until 1871 that slavery in Cuba was finally abolished, African-descended people had high hopes for legal, social, and economic advancement as the republican period started. Pappademos analyzes the racial politics and culture of black civic and political activists during an era fraught with successive political and economic crises.

Blackness in the White Nation Cover

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Blackness in the White Nation

Afro-Uruguay, 1830-2010

George Reid Andrews

Andrews offers a comprehensive history of Afro-Uruguayans from the colonial period to the present. Showing how social and political mobilization is intertwined with candombe, he traces the development of Afro-Uruguayan racial discourse and argues that candombe's evolution as a central part of the nation's culture has not fundamentally helped the cause of racial equality. Incorporating descriptions of his own experiences as a member of a candombe drumming and performance group, Andrews connects the struggles of Afro-Uruguayans to the broader issues of race, culture, gender, and politics throughout Latin America and the African diaspora.

Blue Coat or Powdered Wig Cover

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Blue Coat or Powdered Wig

Free People of Color in Pre-Revolutionary Saint Domingue

Stewart R. King

By the late 1700s, half the free population of Saint Domingue was black. The French Caribbean colony offered a high degree of social, economic, and physical mobility to free people of color. Covering the period 1776-1791, this study offers the most comprehensive portrait to date of Saint Domingue's free black elites on the eve of the colony's transformation into the republic of Haiti.

Stewart R. King identifies two distinctive groups that shared Saint Domingue's free black upper stratum, one consisting of planters and merchants and the other of members of the army and police forces. With the aid of individual and family case studies, King documents how the two groups used different strategies to pursue the common goal of economic and social advancement. Among other aspects, King looks at the rural or urban bases of these groups' networks, their relationships with whites and free blacks of lesser means, and their attitudes toward the acquisition, use, and sale of land, slaves, and other property.

King's main source is the notarial archives of Saint Domingue, whose holdings offer an especially rich glimpse of free black elite life. Because elites were keenly aware of how a bureaucratic paper trail could help cement their status, the archives divulge a wealth of details on personal and public matters.

Blue Coat or Powdered Wig is a vivid portrayal of race relations far from the European centers of colonial power, where the interactions of free blacks and whites were governed as much by practicalities and shared concerns as by the law.

Blurred Borders Cover

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Blurred Borders

Transnational Migration between the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States

Jorge Duany

In this comprehensive comparative study, Jorge Duany explores how migrants to the United States from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico maintain multiple ties to their countries of origin.

Book of Salsa Cover

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Book of Salsa

A Chronicle of Urban Music from the Caribbean to New York City

César Miguel Rondón

Salsa is one of the most popular types of music listened to and danced to in the United States. Until now, the single comprehensive history of the music--and the industry that grew up around it, including musicians, performances, styles, movements, and production--was available only in Spanish. This lively translation provides for English-reading and music-loving fans the chance to enjoy César Miguel Rond?n's celebrated ###El libro de la salsa#.

Bound Lives Cover

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Bound Lives

Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru

Bound Lives chronicles the lived experience of race relations in northern coastal Peru during the colonial era. Rachel Sarah O’Toole examines how Andeans and Africans negotiated and employed casta, and in doing so, constructed these racial categories. This study highlights the tenuous interactions of colonial authorities, indigenous communities, and enslaved populations and shows how the interplay between colonial law and daily practice shaped the nature of colonialism and slavery.

Braceros Cover

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Braceros

Migrant Citizens and Transnational Subjects in the Postwar United States and Mexico

Deborah Cohen

Drawing on oral histories, ethnographic fieldwork, and documentary evidence, ###Braceros# applies a cultural approach to analyze the political economy of labor migration, the rise of large-scale corporate agriculture, and state-to-state relations, showing how the World War II and postwar periods laid the groundwork for current debates over immigration and globalization. Cohen creatively links the often unconnected themes of exploitation, development, the rise of consumer cultures, and gendered class and race formation to show why those with connections beyond the nation have historically provoked suspicion, anxiety, and retaliatory political policies.

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