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Decapitation, Decoration, and Deformation
Building on the notion that human remains provide a window into the past, especially regarding identity, the contributors to this volume reflect on intentional and ritualized practices of manipulating the human head within ancient societies. These essays explore the human head’s symbolic role in political, social, economic, and religious ritual over the centuries.
By focusing on the various ways in which the head was treated at the time of death, as well as before and following, scholars uncover the significant social meaning of such treatment. This illuminating collection highlights biological and cultural manipulations of human heads, ultimately revealing whose skulls and heads were collected and why, whether as ancestors or enemies, as insiders or outsiders, as males, females, or children.
Featuring a wealth of case studies from scholars across the globe, this volume emphasizes social identity and the use of the body in ritual, making it particularly helpful to all those interested in the cross-cultural handling of skulls and heads.
Human violence is an inescapable aspect of our society and culture. As the archaeological record clearly shows, this has always been true. What is its origin? What role does it play in shaping our behavior? How do ritual acts and cultural sanctions make violence acceptable?
These and other questions are addressed by the contributors to The Bioarchaeology of Violence. Organized thematically, the volume opens by laying the groundwork for new theoretical approaches that move beyond interpretation; it then examines case studies from small-scale conflict to warfare to ritualized violence.
Experts on a wide range of ancient societies highlight the meaning and motivation of past uses of violence, revealing how violence often plays an important role in maintaining and suppressing the challenges to the status quo, and how it is frequently a performance meant to be witnessed by others.
The interesting and nuanced insights offered in this volume explore both the costs and the benefits of violence throughout human prehistory.
Expressions of Identity
For decades, Afro-Brazilian art was primarily associated with religious themes. However, developments in the national discourse on race, ethnicity, and black art in the latter part of the twentieth century have produced a shift away from sacred symbols to art more representative of the complete Afro-Brazilian experience.
Kimberly Cleveland highlights the work of five Brazilian artists from all over the country who work in a wide range of media, including photography, sculpture, and installation art. She shows how each conveys "blackness" through his or her unique visual vocabulary and points out the ways this reflects their lived experiences. By examining how these artists explore their African cultural heritage in their work, Cleveland reveals the myriad ways in which they confront social, economic, political, and historical issues related to race in Brazil. Most important, Black Art in Brazil highlights how the markers of black art and culture in Brazil have continued to diversify.
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.
Race and the European Middle Ages
Black Legacies looks at color-based prejudice in medieval and modern texts in order to reveal key similarities. Bringing far-removed time periods into startling conversation, this book argues that certain attitudes and practices present in Europe’s Middle Ages were foundational in the development of the western concept of race.
Using historical, literary, and artistic sources, Lynn Ramey shows that twelfth- and thirteenth-century discourse was preoccupied with skin color and the coding of black as “evil” and white as “good.” Ramey demonstrates that fears of miscegenation show up in all medieval European societies. She pinpoints these same ideas in the rhetoric of later centuries. Mapmakers and travel writers of the colonial era used medieval lore of “monstrous peoples” to question the humanity of indigenous New World populations, and medieval arguments about humanness were employed to justify the slave trade. Ramey even analyzes how race is explored in films set in medieval Europe, revealing an enduring fascination with the Middle Ages as a touchstone for processing and coping with racial conflict in the West today.
Historical treatments of race during the early twentieth century have generally focused on black women's activism. Leading books about the disenfranchisement era hint that black men withdrew from positions of community leadership until later in the century.
Angela Hornsby-Gutting argues that middle-class black men in North Carolina in fact actively responded to new manifestations of racism. Focusing on the localized, grassroots work of black men during this period, she offers new insights about rarely scrutinized interracial dynamics as well as the interactions between men and women in the black community.
Informed by feminist analysis, Hornsby-Gutting uses gender as the lens through which to view cooperation, tension, and negotiation between the sexes and among African American men during an era of heightened race oppression. Her work promotes improved understanding of the construct of gender during these years, and expands the vocabulary of black manhood beyond the "great man ideology" which has obfuscated alternate, localized meanings of politics, manhood, and leadership.
A Political History of African Americans in Atlanta
Atlanta stands out among southern cities for many reasons, not least of which is the role African Americans have played in local politics. Black Power in Dixie offers the first comprehensive study of black politics in the city.
From Reconstruction to recent times, the middle-class black leadership in Atlanta, while often subordinating class and gender differences to forge a continuous campaign for equality, successfully maintained its mantle of racial leadership for more than a century through a deft combination of racial advocacy and collaboration with local white business and political elites.
Alton Hornsby provides an analysis of how one of the most important southern cities managed, adapted, and coped with the struggle for racial justice, examining both traditional electoral politics as well as the roles of non-elected individuals influential in the community. Highlighting the terms of Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young, the city's first two black mayors, Hornsby concludes by raising important questions about the success of black political power and whether it has translated into measurable economic power for the African American community.
Black Power studies have been dominated by the North American story, but after decades of scholarly neglect, the growth of "New Black Power Studies" has revitalized the field. Central to the current agenda are a critique of the narrow domestic lens through which U.S. Black Power has been viewed and a call for greater attention to international and transnational dimensions of the movement. Black Power in the Caribbean masterfully answers this call.
This volume brings together a host of renowned scholars who offer new analyses of the Black Power demonstrations in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as of the little-studied cases of Guyana, Barbados, Antigua, Bermuda, the Dutch Caribbean, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The essays in this collection highlight the unique origins and causes of Black Power mobilization in the Caribbean, its relationship to Black Power in the United States, and the local and global aspects of the movement, ultimately situating the historical roots and modern legacies of Caribbean Black Power in a wider, international context.
Health and Selfhood in Antebellum Black Literature
Analyzing slave narratives, emigration polemics, a murder trial, and black-authored fiction, Andrea Stone highlights the central role physical and mental health and well-being played in antebellum black literary constructions of selfhood. At a time when political and medical theorists emphasized black well-being in their arguments for or against slavery, African American men and women developed their own theories about what it means to be healthy and well in contexts of injury, illness, sexual abuse, disease, and disability.
Such portrayals of the healthy black self in early black print culture created a nineteenth-century politics of well-being that spanned continents. Even in conditions of painful labor, severely limited resources, and physical and mental brutality, these writers counter stereotypes and circumstances by representing and claiming the totality of bodily existence.
An Intellectual History
Evans chronicles the stories of African American women who struggled for and won access to formal education, beginning in 1850, when Lucy Stanton, a student at Oberlin College, earned the first college diploma conferred on an African American woman. In the century between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, a critical increase in black women's educational attainment mirrored unprecedented national growth in American education. Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators--despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies--contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.
Among those Evans profiles are Anna Julia Cooper, who was born enslaved yet ultimately earned a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne, and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Exposing the hypocrisy in American assertions of democracy and discrediting European notions of intellectual superiority, Cooper argued that all human beings had a right to grow. Bethune believed that education is the right of all citizens in a democracy. Both women's philosophies raised questions of how human and civil rights are intertwined with educational access, scholarly research, pedagogy, and community service. This first complete educational and intellectual history of black women carefully traces quantitative research, explores black women's collegiate memories, and identifies significant geographic patterns in America's institutional development. Evans reveals historic perspectives, patterns, and philosophies in academia that will be an important reference for scholars of gender, race, and education.