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Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

David Wheat

This work resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, two major African provenance zones, first Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and their semirural hinterlands.

David Wheat is the first scholar to establish this early phase of the "Africanization" of the Spanish Caribbean two centuries before the rise of large-scale sugar plantations. With African migrants and their descendants comprising demographic majorities in core areas of Spanish settlement, Luso-Africans, Afro-Iberians, Latinized Africans, and free people of color acted more as colonists or settlers than as plantation slaves. These ethnically mixed and economically diversified societies constituted a region of overlapping Iberian and African worlds, while they made possible Spain's colonization of the Caribbean.

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Atlantic Bonds

A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa

Lisa A. Lindsay

A decade before the American Civil War, James Churchwill Vaughan (1828–93) set out to fulfill his formerly enslaved father's dying wish that he should leave America to start a new life in Africa. Over the next forty years, Vaughan was taken captive, fought in African wars, built and rebuilt a livelihood, and led a revolt against white racism, finally becoming a successful merchant and the founder of a wealthy, educated, and politically active family. Tracing Vaughan's journey from South Carolina to Liberia to several parts of Yorubaland (present-day southwestern Nigeria), Lisa Lindsay documents this "free" man's struggle to find economic and political autonomy in an era when freedom was not clear and unhindered anywhere for people of African descent.

In a tour de force of historical investigation on two continents, Lindsay tells a story of Vaughan's survival, prosperity, and activism against a seemingly endless series of obstacles. By following Vaughan's transatlantic journeys and comparing his experiences to those of his parents, contemporaries, and descendants in Nigeria and South Carolina, Lindsay reveals the expansive reach of slavery, the ambiguities of freedom, and the surprising ways that Africa, rather than America, offered new opportunities for people of African descent.

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Aztlán and Arcadia

Religion, Ethnicity, and the Creation of Place

Roberto Ramón Lint Sagarena

In the wake of the Mexican-American War, competing narratives of religious conquest and re-conquest were employed by Anglo American and ethnic Mexican Californians to make sense of their place in North America. These �invented traditions� had a profound impact on North American religious and ethnic relations, serving to bring elements of Catholic history within the Protestant fold of the United States� national history as well as playing an integral role in the emergence of the early Chicano/a movement.
Many Protestant Anglo Americans understood their settlement in the far Southwest as following in the footsteps of the colonial project begun by Catholic Spanish missionaries. In contrast,�Californios�Mexican-Americans and Chicana/os�stressed deep connections to a pre-Columbian past over to their own Spanish heritage. Thus, as Anglo Americans fashioned themselves as the spiritual heirs to the Spanish frontier, many ethnic Mexicans came to see themselves as the spiritual heirs to a southwestern Aztec homeland.

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Baltimore

A Political History

Matthew A. Crenson

Charm City or Mobtown? People from Baltimore glory in its eccentric charm, small-town character, and North-cum-South culture. But for much of the nineteenth century, violence and disorder plagued the city. More recently, the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody has prompted Baltimoreans—and the entire nation—to focus critically on the rich and tangled narrative of black–white relations in Baltimore, where slavery once existed alongside the largest community of free blacks in the United States.

Matthew A. Crenson, a distinguished political scientist and Baltimore native, examines the role of politics and race throughout Baltimore’s history. From its founding in 1729 up through the recent past, Crenson follows Baltimore’s political evolution from an empty expanse of marsh and hills to a complicated city with distinct ways of doing business. Revealing how residents at large engage (and disengage) with one another across an expansive agenda of issues and conflicts, Crenson shows how politics helped form this complex city’s personality.

Crenson provocatively argues that Baltimore’s many quirks are likely symptoms of urban underdevelopment. The city’s longtime domination by the general assembly—and the corresponding weakness of its municipal authority—forced residents to adopt the private and extra-governmental institutions that shaped early Baltimore. On the one hand, Baltimore was resolutely parochial, split by curious political quarrels over issues as minor as loose pigs. On the other, it was keenly attuned to national politics: during the Revolution, for instance, Baltimoreans were known for their comparative radicalism. Crenson describes how, as Baltimore and the nation grew, whites competed with blacks, slave and free, for menial and low-skill work. He also explores how the urban elite thrived by avoiding, wherever possible, questions of slavery vs. freedom—just as, long after the Civil War and emancipation, wealthier Baltimoreans preferred to sidestep racial controversy.

Peering into the city’s 300-odd neighborhoods, this fascinating account holds up a mirror to Baltimore, asking whites in particular to re-examine the past and accept due responsibility for future racial progress.

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Beautiful Wasteland

The Rise of Detroit as America's Postindustrial Frontier

Rebecca J. Kinney

According to popular media and scholarship alike, Detroit, the once-vibrant city that crumbled with the departure of the auto industry, is where dreams can be reborn. It is a place that, like America itself, is gritty and determined. It has faced the worst kind of adversity, and supposedly now it’s back. But what does this narrative of “new Detroit” leave out? Beautiful Wasteland reveals that the contemporary story of Detroit’s rebirth is an upcycled version of the American Dream, which has long imagined access to work, home, and upward mobility as race-neutral projects. They’re not. As Rebecca Kinney shows, the narratives of Detroit’s rise, decline, and potential to rise again are deeply steeped in material and ideological investments in whiteness.

By remapping the narratives of contemporary Detroit through an extension of America’s frontier mythology, Rebecca Kinney analyzes a cross-section of twentieth and twenty-first century cultural locations—an Internet forum, ruin photography, advertising, documentary film, and print and online media. She illuminates how the stories we tell about Detroit as a frontier of possibility enable the erasure of white privilege and systemic racism. By situating Detroit as a “beautiful wasteland,” both desirable and distressed, this shows how the narrative of ruin and possibility form a mutually constituted relationship; the city is possible precisely because of its perceived ruin.

Beautiful Wasteland tackles the key questions about the future of postindustrial America. As cities around the country reckon with their own postindustrial landscapes, Rebecca Kinney cautions that development that elide considerations of race and class will only continue to replicate uneven access to the city for the poor, working class, and people of color.

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Becoming American under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship during the Civil War Era

by Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. Members of both groups also helped to redefine the legal meaning and political practices of American citizenship.

For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race.

For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad.

As Samito makes clear, the experiences of African Americans and Irish Americans differed substantially-and at times both groups even found themselves violently opposed-but they had in common that they aspired to full citizenship and inclusion in the American polity. Both communities were key participants in the fight to expand the definition of citizenship that became enshrined in constitutional amendments and legislation that changed the nation.

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Being and Belonging

Muslims in the United States since 9/11

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, instantly transformed many ordinary Muslim and Arab Americans into suspected terrorists. In the weeks and months following the attacks, Muslims in the United States faced a frighteningly altered social climate consisting of heightened surveillance, interrogation, and harassment. In the long run, however, the backlash has been more complicated. In Being and Belonging, Katherine Pratt Ewing leads a group of anthropologists, sociologists, and cultural studies experts in exploring how the events of September 11th have affected the quest for belonging and identity among Muslims in America—for better and for worse. From Chicago to Detroit to San Francisco, Being and Belonging takes readers on an extensive tour of Muslim America—inside mosques, through high school hallways, and along inner city streets.  Jen’nan Ghazal Read compares the experiences of Arab Muslims and Arab Christians in Houston and finds that the events of 9/11 created a “cultural wedge” dividing Arab Americans along religious lines. While Arab Christians highlighted their religious affiliation as a means of distancing themselves from the perceived terrorist sympathies of Islam, Muslims quickly found that their religious affiliation served as a barrier, rather than a bridge, to social and political integration. Katherine Pratt Ewing and Marguerite Hoyler document the way South Asian Muslim youth in Raleigh, North Carolina, actively contested the prevailing notion that one cannot be both Muslim and American by asserting their religious identities more powerfully than they might have before the terrorist acts, while still identifying themselves as fully American. Sally Howell and Amaney Jamal distinguish between national and local responses to terrorism. In striking contrast to the erosion of civil rights, ethnic profiling, and surveillance set into motion by the federal government, well-established Muslim community leaders in Detroit used their influence in law enforcement, media, and social services to empower the community and protect civil rights. Craig Joseph and Barnaby Riedel analyze how an Islamic private school in Chicago responded to both September 11 and the increasing ethnic diversity of its student body by adopting a secular character education program to instruct children in universal values rather than religious doctrine. In a series of poignant interviews, the school’s students articulate a clear understanding that while 9/11 left deep wounds on their community, it also created a valuable opportunity to teach the nation about Islam. The rich ethnographies in this volume link 9/11 and its effects to the experiences of a group that was struggling to be included in the American mainstream long before that fateful day. Many Muslim communities never had a chance to tell their stories after September 11. In Being and Belonging, they get that chance.

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Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement

A Biography

Randal Maurice Jelks

Best remembered as Martin Luther King's mentor, Benjamin Mays was an African American church scholar, dean of the Howard University School of Religion, long-time president of Morehouse College, and the author of six books on religion. A critical figure in the civil rights movement, Mays also made important contributions to African American higher education and to the study of African American Protestantism. Jelks’s biography shows Mays’s role in articulating the ideology of the modern African American Protestant church and then training the generation that brought that theology to bear on the civil rights movement.

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Between Slavery and Capitalism

The Legacy of Emancipation in the American South

Martin Ruef

At the center of the upheavals brought by emancipation in the American South was the economic and social transition from slavery to modern capitalism. In Between Slavery and Capitalism, Martin Ruef examines how this institutional change affected individuals, organizations, and communities in the late nineteenth century, as blacks and whites alike learned to navigate the shoals between two different economic worlds. Analyzing trajectories among average Southerners, this is perhaps the most extensive sociological treatment of the transition from slavery since W.E.B. Du Bois's Black Reconstruction in America.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, uncertainty was a pervasive feature of life in the South, affecting the economic behavior and social status of former slaves, Freedmen's Bureau agents, planters, merchants, and politicians, among others. Emancipation brought fundamental questions: How should emancipated slaves be reimbursed in wage contracts? What occupations and class positions would be open to blacks and whites? What forms of agricultural tenure could persist? And what paths to economic growth would be viable? To understand the escalating uncertainty of the postbellum era, Ruef draws on a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data, including several thousand interviews with former slaves, letters, labor contracts, memoirs, survey responses, census records, and credit reports.

Through a resolutely comparative approach, Between Slavery and Capitalism identifies profound changes between the economic institutions of the Old and New South and sheds new light on how the legacy of emancipation continues to affect political discourse and race and class relations today.

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Beyond Blackface

African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930

Edited by W. Fitzhugh Brundage

This manuscript is a collection of thirteen essays looking at the formative decades in the history of modern American mass culture. Bringing together original work from sixteen distinguished scholars in various disciplines, ranging from theater and literature to history and music, this manuscript addresses the complex roles of black performers, entrepreneurs, and consumers in American mass culture. With subjects ranging from representations of race in sheet music illustrations to African American interest in Haitian culture and with topics spanning the end of the nineteenth century to the Great Depression, these essays expand the discussion of both black culture and American popular culture during the early twentieth century. This anthology presents a fresh and multidisciplinary look at the history of African Americans and mass culture.

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