Indiana University Press

Blacks in the Diaspora

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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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Barriers between Us

Interracial Sex in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Cassandra Jackson

This provocative book examines the representation of characters of mixed African and European descent in the works of African American and European American writers of the 19th century. The importance of mulatto figures as agents of ideological exchange in the American literary tradition has yet to receive sustained critical attention. Going beyond Sterling Brown's melodramatic stereotype of the mulatto as "tragic figure," Cassandra Jackson's close study of nine works of fiction shows how the mulatto trope reveals the social, cultural, and political ideas of the period. Jackson uncovers a vigorous discussion in 19th-century fiction about the role of racial ideology in the creation of an American identity. She analyzes the themes of race-mixing, the "mulatto," nation building, and the social fluidity of race (and its imagined biological rigidity) in novels by James Fenimore Cooper, Richard Hildreth, Lydia Maria Child, Frances E. W. Harper, Thomas Detter, George Washington Cable, and Charles Chesnutt.

Blacks in the Diaspora -- Claude A. Clegg III, editor
Darlene Clark Hine, David Barry Gaspar, and John McCluskey, founding editors

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Between Slavery and Freedom

Philosophy and American Slavery

Howard McGary and Bill E. Lawson

Using the writings of slaves and former slaves, as well as commentaries on slavery, Between Slavery and Freedom explores the American slave experience to gain a better understanding of six moral and political concepts—oppression, paternalism, resistance, political obligation, citizenship, and forgiveness. The authors use analytical philosophy as well as other disciplines to gain insight into the thinking of a group of people prevented from participating in the social/political discourse of their times.

Between Slavery and Freedom rejects the notion that philosophers need not consider individual experience because philosophy is "impartial" and "universal." A philosopher should also take account of matters that are essentially perspectival, such as the slave experience. McGary and Lawson demonstrate the contribution of all human experience, including slave experiences, to the quest for human knowledge and understanding.

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Black Female Playwrights

An Anthology of Plays before 1950

Edited with an Introduction by Kathy A. Perkins

"Fine reading and a superb resource." -- Ms.

"Highly recommended." -- Library Journal

"Perkins has chosen the plays well, and her issue-oriented introduction places the women and their works in a literary and historical context." -- Choice

"As well as being centered on the black experience, the plays in Black Female Playwrights are centered on the female experience." -- Voice Literary Supplement

"Perkins' anthology is valuable for a number of reasons... Perkins' book (which includes a bibliography of plays and pageants by black women before 1950 as well as a selected bibliography of critical works) is a major help in providing access to [the world of black drama]." -- Theatre Journal

The need to acknowledge these works was the impetus behind this volume. Perkins has selected nineteen plays from seven writers who were among the major dramatizers of the black experience during this early period. As forerunners to the activist black theater of the 1950s and 1960s, these plays represent a critical stage in the development of black drama in the United States.

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Blinded by the Whites

Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America

David H. Ikard

The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. But the persistence of racial profiling, economic inequality between blacks and whites, disproportionate numbers of black prisoners, and disparities in health and access to healthcare suggest there is more to the story. David H. Ikard addresses these issues in an effort to give voice to the challenges faced by most African Americans and to make legible the shifting discourse of white supremacist ideology—including post-racialism and colorblind politics—that frustrates black self-determination, agency, and empowerment in the 21st century. Ikard tackles these concerns from various perspectives, chief among them black feminism. He argues that all oppressions (of race, gender, class, sexual orientation) intersect and must be confronted to upset the status quo.

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"Born in a Mighty Bad Land"

The Violent Man in African American Folklore and Fiction

Jerry H. Bryant

The figure of the violent man in the African American imagination has a long history. He can be found in 19th-century bad man ballads like "Stagolee" and "John Hardy," as well as in the black convict recitations that influenced "gangsta" rap. "Born in a Mighty Bad Land" connects this figure with similar characters in African American fiction. Many writers -- McKay and Hurston in the Harlem Renaissance; Wright, Baldwin, and Ellison in the '40s and '50s; Himes in the '50s and '60s -- saw the "bad nigger" as an archetypal figure in the black imagination and psyche. "Blaxploitation" novels in the '70s made him a virtually mythical character. More recently, Mosley, Wideman, and Morrison have presented him as ghetto philosopher and cultural adventurer. Behind the folklore and fiction, many theories have been proposed to explain the source of the bad man's intra-racial violence. Jerry H. Bryant explores all of these elements in a wide-ranging and illuminating look at one of the most misunderstood figures in African American culture.

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Braided Relations, Entwined Lives

The Women of Charleston's Urban Slave Society

Cynthia M. Kennedy

"[A] stunning, deeply researched, and gracefully written social history." -- Leslie Schwalm, University of Iowa

This study of women in antebellum Charleston, South Carolina, looks at the roles of women in an urban slave society. Cynthia M. Kennedy takes up issues of gender, race, condition (slave or free), and class and examines the ways each contributed to conveying and replicating power. She analyses what it meant to be a woman in a world where historically specific social classifications determined personal destiny and where at the same time people of color and white people mingled daily. Kennedy's study examines the lives of the women of Charleston and the variety of their attempts to negotiate the web of social relations that ensnared them.

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Children's Literature of the Harlem Renaissance

Katharine Capshaw Smith

The Harlem Renaissance, the period associated with the flowering of the arts in Harlem, inaugurated a tradition of African American children's literature, for the movement's central writers made youth both their subject and audience. W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Langston Hughes, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and other Harlem Renaissance figures took an impassioned interest in the literary models offered to children, believing that the "New Negro" would ultimately arise from black youth. As a result, African American children's literature became a crucial medium through which a disparate community forged bonds of cultural, economic, and aesthetic solidarity. Kate Capshaw Smith explores the period's vigorous exchange about the nature and identity of black childhood and uncovers the networks of African American philosophers, community activists, schoolteachers, and literary artists who worked together to transmit black history and culture to the next generation.

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Colonial Blackness

A History of Afro-Mexico

Herman L. Bennett

Asking readers to imagine a history of Mexico narrated through the experiences of Africans and their descendants, this book offers a radical reconfiguration of Latin American history. Using ecclesiastical and inquisitorial records, Herman L. Bennett frames the history of Mexico around the private lives and liberty that Catholicism engendered among enslaved Africans and free blacks, who became majority populations soon after the Spanish conquest. The resulting history of 17th-century Mexico brings forth tantalizing personal and family dramas, body politics, and stories of lost virtue and sullen honor. By focusing on these phenomena among peoples of African descent, rather than the conventional history of Mexico with the narrative of slavery to freedom figured in, Colonial Blackness presents the colonial drama in all its untidy detail.

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Contemporary African American Literature

The Living Canon

Edited by Lovalerie King and Shirley Moody-Turner

In this volume, Lovalerie King and Shirley Moody-Turner have compiled a collection of essays that offer access to some of the most innovative contemporary black fiction while addressing important issues in current African American literary studies. Distinguished scholars Houston Baker, Trudier Harris, Darryl Dickson-Carr, and Maryemma Graham join writers and younger scholars to explore the work of Toni Morrison, Edward P. Jones, Trey Ellis, Paul Beatty, Mat Johnson, Kyle Baker, Danzy Senna, Nikki Turner, and many others. The collection is bracketed by a foreword by novelist and graphic artist Mat Johnson, one of the most exciting and innovative contemporary African American writers, and an afterword by Alice Randall, author of the controversial parody The Wind Done Gone. Together, King and Moody-Turner make the case that diversity, innovation, and canon expansion are essential to maintaining the vitality of African American literary studies.

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