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Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora
Surrealism as a movement has always resisted the efforts of critics to confine it to any static definition—surrealists themselves have always preferred to speak of it in terms of dynamics, dialectics, goals, and struggles. Accordingly, surrealist groups have always encouraged and exemplified the widest diversity—from its start the movement was emphatically opposed to racism and colonialism, and it embraced thinkers from every race and nation. Yet in the vast critical literature on surrealism, all but a few black poets have been invisible. Academic histories and anthologies typically, but very wrongly, persist in conveying surrealism as an all-white movement, like other “artistic schools” of European origin. In glaring contrast, the many publications of the international surrealist movement have regularly featured texts and reproductions of works by comrades from Martinique, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, South America, the United States, and other lands. Some of these publications are readily available to researchers; others are not, and a few fall outside academia’s narrow definition of surrealism. This collection is the first to document the extensive participation of people of African descent in the international surrealist movement over the past seventy-five years. Editors Franklin Rosemont and Robin D. G. Kelley aim to introduce readers to the black, brown, and beige surrealists of the world—to provide sketches of their overlooked lives and deeds as well as their important place in history, especially the history of surrealism.
A Comparative Study
Throughout the fourteenth century AD/eighth century H, waves of plague swept out of Central Asia and decimated populations from China to Iceland. So devastating was the Black Death across the Old World that some historians have compared its effects to those of a nuclear holocaust. As countries began to recover from the plague during the following century, sharp contrasts arose between the East, where societies slumped into long-term economic and social decline, and the West, where technological and social innovation set the stage for Europe’s dominance into the twentieth century. Why were there such opposite outcomes from the same catastrophic event? In contrast to previous studies that have looked to differences between Islam and Christianity for the solution to the puzzle, this pioneering work proposes that a country’s system of landholding primarily determined how successfully it recovered from the calamity of the Black Death. Stuart Borsch compares the specific cases of Egypt and England, countries whose economies were based in agriculture and whose pre-plague levels of total and agrarian gross domestic product were roughly equivalent. Undertaking a thorough analysis of medieval economic data, he cogently explains why Egypt’s centralized and urban landholding system was unable to adapt to massive depopulation, while England’s localized and rural landholding system had fully recovered by the year 1500.
Hollywood film directors are some of the world’s most powerful storytellers, shaping the fantasies and aspirations of people around the globe. Since the 1960s, African Americans have increasingly joined their ranks, bringing fresh insights to movie characterizations, plots, and themes and depicting areas of African American culture that were previously absent from mainstream films. Today, black directors are making films in all popular genres, while inventing new ones to speak directly from and to the black experience. This book offers a first comprehensive look at the work of black directors in Hollywood, from pioneers such as Gordon Parks, Melvin Van Peebles, and Ossie Davis to current talents including Spike Lee, John Singleton, Kasi Lemmons, and Carl Franklin. Discussing 67 individuals and over 135 films, Melvin Donalson thoroughly explores how black directors’ storytelling skills and film techniques have widened both the thematic focus and visual style of American cinema. Assessing the meanings and messages in their films, he convincingly demonstrates that black directors are balancing Hollywood’s demand for box office success with artistic achievement and responsibility to ethnic, cultural, and gender issues.
Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film
Science fiction film offers its viewers many pleasures, not least of which is the possibility of imagining other worlds in which very different forms of society exist. Not surprisingly, however, these alternative worlds often become spaces in which filmmakers and film audiences can explore issues of concern in our own society. Through an analysis of over thirty canonic science fiction (SF) films, including Logan's Run, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Gattaca, and Minority Report, Black Space offers a thorough-going investigation of how SF film since the 1950s has dealt with the issue of race and specifically with the representation of blackness. Setting his study against the backdrop of America's ongoing racial struggles and complex socioeconomic histories, Adilifu Nama pursues a number of themes in Black Space. They include the structured absence/token presence of blacks in SF film; racial contamination and racial paranoia; the traumatized black body as the ultimate signifier of difference, alienness, and “otherness”; the use of class and economic issues to subsume race as an issue; the racially subversive pleasures and allegories encoded in some mainstream SF films; and the ways in which independent and extra-filmic productions are subverting the SF genre of Hollywood filmmaking. The first book-length study of African American representation in science fiction film, Black Space demonstrates that SF cinema has become an important field of racial analysis, a site where definitions of race can be contested and post-civil rights race relations (re)imagined.
Race relations in twenty-first-century America will not be just a black-and-white issue. The 2000 census revealed that Hispanics already slightly outnumber African Americans as the largest ethnic group, while together Blacks and Hispanics constitute the majority population in the five largest U.S. cities. Given these facts, black-brown relations could be a more significant racial issue in the decades to come than relations between minority groups and Whites. Offering some of the first in-depth analyses of how African Americans and Hispanics perceive and interact with each other, this pathfinding study looks at black-brown relations in Houston, Texas, one of the largest U.S. cities with a majority ethnic population and one in which Hispanics outnumber African Americans. Drawing on the results of several sociological studies, the authors focus on four key issues: how each group forms and maintains stereotypes of the other, areas in which the two groups conflict and disagree, the crucial role of women in shaping their communities’ racial attitudes, and areas in which Hispanics and African Americans agree and can cooperate to achieve greater political power and social justice.
Racial Politics in the New Gulf South
An eye-opening study of the new coalitions between Latinos and African Americans emerging throughout the Gulf South, where previously divided ethnicities are forging an unprecedented challenge to white hegemony.
The El Paso Operation That Remade Immigration Enforcement
To understand border enforcement and the shape it has taken, it is imperative to examine a groundbreaking Border Patrol operation begun in 1993 in El Paso, Texas, “Operation Blockade.” The El Paso Border Patrol designed and implemented this radical new strategy, posting 400 agents directly on the banks of the Rio Grande in highly visible positions to deter unauthorized border crossings into the urban areas of El Paso from neighboring Ciudad Juárez—a marked departure from the traditional strategy of apprehending unauthorized crossers after entry. This approach, of “prevention through deterrence,” became the foundation of the 1994 and 2004 National Border Patrol Strategies for the Southern Border. Politically popular overall, it has rendered unauthorized border crossing far less visible in many key urban areas. However, the real effectiveness of the strategy is debatable, at best. Its implementation has also led to a sharp rise in the number of deaths of unauthorized border crossers. Here, Dunn examines the paradigm-changing Operation Blockade and related border enforcement efforts in the El Paso region in great detail, as well as the local social and political situation that spawned the approach and has shaped it since. Dunn particularly spotlights the human rights abuses and enforcement excesses inflicted on local Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants as well as the challenges to those abuses. Throughout the book, Dunn filters his research and fieldwork through two competing lenses, human rights versus the rights of national sovereignty and citizenship.
Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature
Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature examines a broad array of texts that have contributed to the formation of an indigenous strand of Chicano cultural politics. In particular, this book exposes the ethnographic and poetic discourses that shaped the aesthetics and stylistics of Chicano nationalism and Chicana feminism. Contreras offers original perspectives on writers ranging from Alurista and Gloria Anzaldúa to Lorna Dee Cervantes and Alma Luz Villanueva, effectively marking the invocation of a Chicano indigeneity whose foundations and formulations can be linked to U.S. and British modernist writing. By highlighting intertextualities such as those between Anzaldúa and D. H. Lawrence, Contreras critiques the resilience of primitivism in the Mexican borderlands. She questions established cultural perspectives on “the native,” which paradoxically challenge and reaffirm racialized representations of Indians in the Americas. In doing so, Blood Lines brings a new understanding to the contradictory and richly textured literary relationship that links the projects of European modernism and Anglo-American authors, on the one hand, and the imaginary of the post-revolutionary Mexican state and Chicano/a writers, on the other hand.
Postmodern Media Culture and the Films of Paul Thomas Anderson
Drawing fascinating connections between cultural history and film authorship, Blossoms and Blood charts the development of Paul Thomas Anderson, whose films, such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood, offer a prescient approach to the contradictions of our all-consuming, postmodern media environment.