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Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century
As in many literatures of the New World grappling with issues of slavery and freedom, stories of racial insurrection frequently coincided with stories of cross-racial romance in nineteenth-century U.S. print culture. Colleen O’Brien explores how authors such as Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Livermore, and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda imagined the expansion of race and gender-based rights as a hemispheric affair, drawing together the United States with Africa, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean. Placing less familiar women writers in conversation with their more famous contemporaries—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Lydia Maria Child—O’Brien traces the transnational progress of freedom through the antebellum cultural fascination with cross-racial relationships and insurrections. Her book mines a variety of sources—fiction, political rhetoric, popular journalism, race science, and biblical treatises—to reveal a common concern: a future in which romance and rebellion engender radical social and political transformation.
A microcosm of exaggerated societal extremes—poverty and wealth, vice and virtue, elitism and equality—New Orleans is a tangled web of race, cultural mores, and sexual identities. Jennifer Spear's examination of the dialectical relationship between politics and social practice unravels the city’s construction of race during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Spear brings together archival evidence from three different languages and the most recent and respected scholarship on racial formation and interracial sex to explain why free people of color became a significant population in the early days of New Orleans and to show how authorities attempted to use concepts of race and social hierarchy to impose order on a decidedly disorderly society. She recounts and analyzes the major conflicts that influenced New Orleanian culture: legal attempts to impose racial barriers and social order, political battles over propriety and freedom, and cultural clashes over place and progress. At each turn, Spear’s narrative challenges the prevailing academic assumptions and supports her efforts to move exploration of racial formation away from cultural and political discourses and toward social histories. Strikingly argued, richly researched, and methodologically sound, this wide-ranging look at how choices about sex triumphed over established class systems and artificial racial boundaries supplies a refreshing contribution to the history of early Louisiana.
Performance and Law in Asian America
Property Matters in African American Literature
In Race, Theft, and Ethics, Lovalerie King examines African American literature's critique of American law concerning matters of property, paying particular attention to the stereotypical image of the black thief. She draws on two centuries of African American writing that reflects the manner in which human value became intricately connected with property ownership in American culture, even as racialized social and legal custom and practice severely limited access to property. Using critical race theory, King builds a powerful argument that the stereotype of the black thief is an inevitable byproduct of American law, politics, and social customs. In making her case, King ranges far and wide in black literature, looking closely at over thirty literary works. She uses four of the best-known African American autobiographical narratives— Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, and Richard Wright's Black Boy—to reveal the ways that law and custom worked to shape the black thief stereotype under the institution of slavery and to keep it firmly in place under the Jim Crow system. Examining the work of William Wells Brown, Charles Chesnutt, James Weldon Johnson, and Alice Randall, King treats "the ethics of passing" and considers the definition and value of whiteness and the relationship between whiteness and property. Close readings of Richard Wright's Native Son and Dorothy West's The Living is Easy, among other works, question whether blacks' unequal access to the economic opportunities held out by the American Dream functions as a kind of expropriation for which there is no possible legal or ethical means of reparation. She concludes by exploring the theme of theft and love in two famed neo–slave or neo–freedom narratives—Toni Morrison's Beloved and Charles Johnson's Middle Passage. Race, Theft, and Ethics shows how African American literature deals with the racialized history of unequal economic opportunity in highly complex and nuanced ways, and illustrates that, for many authors, an essential aspect of their work involved contemplating the tensions between a given code of ethics and a moral course of action. A deft combination of history, literature, law and economics, King's groundbreaking work highlights the pervasiveness of the property/race/ethics dynamic in the interfaces of African American lives with American law.
In this first interdisciplinary study of all nine of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s novels, Evelyn Jaffe Schreiber investigates how the communal and personal trauma of slavery embedded in the bodies and minds of its victims lives on through successive generations of African Americans. Approaching trauma from several cutting-edge theoretical perspectives—psychoanalytic, neurobiological, and cultural and social theories—Schreiber analyzes the lasting effects of slavery as depicted in Morrison’s work and considers the almost insurmountable task of recovering from trauma to gain subjectivity. With an innovative application of neuroscience to literary criticism, Schreiber explains how trauma, whether initiated by physical abuse, dehumanization, discrimination, exclusion, or abandonment, becomes embedded in both psychic and bodily circuits. Slavery and its legacy of cultural rejection create trauma on individual, familial, and community levels, and parents unwittingly transmit their trauma to their children through repetition of their bodily stored experiences. Concepts of “home”—whether a physical place, community, or relationship—are reconstructed through memory to provide a positive self and serve as a healing space for Morrison’s characters. Remembering and retelling trauma within a supportive community enables trauma victims to move forward and attain a meaningful subjectivity and selfhood. Through careful analysis of each novel, Schreiber traces the success or failure of Morrison’s characters to build or rebuild a cohesive self, starting with slavery and the initial postslavery generation, and continuing through the twentieth century, with a special focus on the effects of inherited trauma on children. When characters attempt to escape trauma through physical relocation, or to project their pain onto others through aggressive behavior or scapegoating, the development of selfhood falters. Only when trauma is confronted through verbalization and challenged with reparative images of home, can memories of a positive self overcome the pain of past experiences and cultural rejection. While the cultural trauma of slavery can never truly disappear, Schreiber argues that memories that reconstruct a positive self, whether created by people, relationships, a physical place, or a concept, help Morrison’s characters to establish subjectivity. A groundbreaking interdisciplinary work, Schreiber’s book unites psychoanalytic, neurobiological, and social theories into a full and richly textured analysis of trauma and the possibility of healing in Morrison’s novels.
White Supremacy and the Japanese Attack on the British Empire
Japan’s lightning march across Asia during World War II was swift and brutal. Nation after nation fell to Japanese soldiers. How were the Japanese able to justify their occupation of so many Asian nations? And how did they find supporters in countries they subdued and exploited? Race War! delves into submerged and forgotten history to reveal how European racism and colonialism were deftly exploited by the Japanese to create allies among formerly colonized people of color. Through interviews and original archival research on five continents, Gerald Horne shows how race played a key—and hitherto ignored—;role in each phase of the war.
During the conflict, the Japanese turned white racism on its head portraying the war as a defense against white domination in the Pacific. We learn about the reverse racial hierarchy practiced by the Japanese internment camps, in which whites were placed at the bottom of the totem pole, under the supervision of Chinese, Korean, and Indian guards—an embarrassing example of racial payback that was downplayed by the defeated Japanese and the humiliated Europeans and Euro-Americans.
Focusing on the microcosmic example of Hong Kong but ranging from colonial India to New Zealand and the shores of the U.S., Gerald Horne radically retells the story of the war. From racist U.S. propaganda to Black Nationalist open support of Imperial Japan, information about the effect of race on U.S. and British policy is revealed for the first time. This revisionist account of the war draws connections between General Tojo, Malaysian freedom fighters, and Elijah Muhammed of the Nation of Islam and shows how white racism encouraged and enabled Japanese imperialism. In sum, Horne demonstrates that the retreat of white supremacy was not only driven by the impact of the Cold War and the energized militancy of Africans and African-Americans but by the impact of the Pacific War as well, as a chastened U.S. and U.K. moved vigorously after this conflict to remove the conditions that made Japan's success possible.
Among the most pervasive of stereotypes imposed upon southern highlanders is that they were white, opposed slavery, and supported the Union before and during the Civil War, but the historical record suggests far different realities. John C. Inscoe has spent much of his scholarly career exploring the social, economic and political significance of slavery and slaveholding in the mountain South and the complex nature of the region’s wartime loyalties, and the brutal guerrilla warfare and home front traumas that stemmed from those divisions. The essays here embrace both facts and fictions related to those issues, often conveyed through intimate vignettes that focus on individuals, families, and communities, keeping the human dimension at the forefront of his insights and analysis. Drawing on the memories, memoirs, and other testimony of slaves and free blacks, slaveholders and abolitionists, guerrilla warriors, invading armies, and the highland civilians they encountered, Inscoe considers this multiplicity of perspectives and what is revealed about highlanders’ dual and overlapping identities as both a part of, and distinct from, the South as a whole. He devotes attention to how the truths derived from these contemporary voices were exploited, distorted, reshaped, reinforced, or ignored by later generations of novelists, journalists, filmmakers, dramatists, and even historians with differing agendas over the course of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His cast of characters includes John Henry, Frederick Law Olmsted and John Brown, Andrew Johnson and Zebulon Vance, and those who later interpreted their stories—John Fox and John Ehle, Thomas Wolfe and Charles Frazier, Emma Bell Miles and Harry Caudill, Carter Woodson and W. J. Cash, Horace Kephart and John C. Campbell, even William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. Their work and that of many others have contributed much to either our understanding—or misunderstanding—of nineteenth century Appalachia and its place in the American imagination.
African Americans and the United States Government during World War I
In April 1917, black Americans reacted in various ways to the entry of the United States into World War I in the name of "Democracy." Some expressed loud support, many were indifferent, and others voiced outright opposition. All were agreed, however, that the best place to start guaranteeing freedom was at home.
Almost immediately, rumors spread across the nation that German agents were engaged in "Negro Subversion" and that African Americans were potentially disloyal. Despite mounting a constant watch on black civilians, their newspapers, and their organizations, the domestic intelligence agents of the federal government failed to detect any black traitors or saboteurs. They did, however, find vigorous demands for equal rights to be granted and for the 30-year epidemic of lynching in the South to be eradicated. In Race, War, and Surveillance, Mark Ellis examines the interaction between the deep-seated fears of many white Americans about a possible race war and their profound ignorance about the black population. The result was a "black scare" that lasted well beyond the war years.
Mark Ellis is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.
256 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, index, append.
cloth 0-253-33923-5 $39.95 s /
The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois
One of the most intriguing activists and artists of the twentieth century, Shirley Graham Du Bois also remains one of the least studied and understood. In Race Woman, Gerald Horne draws a revealing portrait of this controvertial figure who championed the civil rights movement in America, the liberation struggles in Africa and the socialist struggles in Maoist China. Through careful analysis and use of personal correspondence, interviews, and previously unexamined documents, Horne explores her work as a Harlem Renaissance playwright, biographer, composer, teacher, novelist, Left political activist, advisor and inspiration, who was a powerful historical actor.
French Representations of Colonized Peoples, 1886-1940
While European commerce in race was substantial, the colonial trade in ideas of race was highly profitable as well. Looking at official propaganda and commercial representations in France during the Third Republic, this book explores the way the French increased the value of their racial identity at home at the expense of their colonized brothers and sisters. The French did not create the identity-effacing stereotypes of Africans, Arabs, and Indochinese. Instead they refined or remolded these images, and as they did so they redefined and remolded their images of themselves. Focusing on world's fairs, colonial expositions, and mundane manufacturers' trademarks, Races on Display shows not only the prevalence of racial stereotypes, but also how complex these representations prove to be.