This collective biography of four jazz musicians from Brooklyn, Ghana, and South Africa demonstrates how modern Africa reshaped jazz, how modern jazz helped form a new African identity, and how musical convergences and crossings altered the politics and culture of both continents.
Throughout its long and often tumultuous history, “La Hispanola” has taken on various cultural identities to meet the expectations—and especially the demands—of those who governed it. The island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti saw its first great shift with the arrival of Spanish colonists, who eliminated the indigenous population and established a pattern of indifference or hostility to diversity there. This enlightening book explores the Dominican Republic through the lens of its African descendants, beginning with the rise of the black slave trade in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century West Africa, and continuing on to slavery as it existed on the island. An engaging history that vividly details black life in the Dominican Republic, the book investigates the slave rebellions and evaluates the numerous contributions of black slaves to Dominican culture.
Afrocentric Idea Revised
Molefi Asante Temple University Press, 1998 Library of Congress P94.5.A37A78 1998 | Dewey Decimal 909.0496
This new edition of The Afrocentric Idea boldly confronts the contemporary challenges that have been launched against Molefi Kete Asante's philosophical, social, and cultural theory. By rendering a critique of some post-modern positions as well as the old structured Eurocentric orientations discussed in the first edition, this new edition contains lively engagements with views expressed by Mary Lefkowitz, Paul Gilroy, and Cornel West. Expanding on his core ideas, Asante has cast The Afrocentric Idea in the tradition of provocative critiques of the established social order. This is a fresh and dynamic location of culture within the context of social change.
Before the Revolution
Daniel K. Richter Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress E169.12.R497 2011 | Dewey Decimal 973.01
In this epic synthesis, Richter reveals a new America. Surveying many centuries prior to the American Revolution, we discover the tumultuous encounters between the peoples of North America, Africa, and Europe and see how the present is the accumulation of the ancient layers of the past.
During the era of the slave trade, more than 12 million Africans were brought as slaves to the Americas. Their memories, ideas, beliefs, and practices would forever reshape its history and cultures. April C. E. Langley’s The Black Aesthetic Unbound exposes the dilemma of the literal, metaphorical, and rhetorical question, "What is African in African American literature?" Confronting the undeniable imprints of West African culture and consciousness in early black writing such as Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative or Phillis Wheatley’s poetry, the author conceives eighteenth-century Black Experience to be literally and figuratively encompassing and inextricably linked to Africa, Europe, and America.
Consequently, this book has three aims: to locate the eighteenth century as the genesis of the cultural and historical movements which mark twentieth-century black aestheticism—known as the Black Aesthetic; to analyze problematic associations of African identity as manifested in an essentialized Afro-America; and to study the relationship between specific West African modes of thought and expression and the emergence of a black aesthetic in eighteenth-century North America. By exploring how Senegalese, Igbo, and other West African traditions provide striking new lenses for reading poetry and prose by six significant writers, Langley offers a fresh perspective on this important era in our literary history. Ultimately, the author confronts the difficult dilemma of how to use diasporic, syncretic, and vernacular theories of Black culture to think through the massive cultural transformations wrought by the Middle Passage.
In Black and Green, Kiran Asher provides a powerful framework for reconceptualizing the relationship between neoliberal development and social movements. Moving beyond the notion that development is a hegemonic, homogenizing force that victimizes local communities, Asher argues that development processes and social movements shape each other in uneven and paradoxical ways. She bases her argument on ethnographic analysis of the black social movements that emerged from and interacted with political and economic changes in Colombia’s Pacific lowlands, or Chocó region, in the 1990s.
The Pacific region had yet to be overrun by drug traffickers, guerrillas, and paramilitary forces in the early 1990s. It was better known as the largest area of black culture in the country (90 percent of the region’s population is Afro-Colombian) and as a supplier of natural resources, including timber, gold, platinum, and silver. Colombia’s Law 70, passed in 1993, promised ethnic and cultural rights, collective land ownership, and socioeconomic development to Afro-Colombian communities. At the same time that various constituencies sought to interpret and implement Law 70, the state was moving ahead with large-scale development initiatives intended to modernize the economically backward coastal lowlands. Meanwhile national and international conservation organizations were attempting to protect the region’s rich biodiversity. Asher explores this juxtaposition of black rights, economic development, and conservation—and the tensions it catalyzed. She analyzes the meanings attached to “culture,” “nature,” and “development” by the Colombian state and Afro-Colombian social movements, including women’s groups. In so doing, she shows that the appropriation of development and conservation discourses by the social movements had a paradoxical effect. It legitimized the presence of state, development, and conservation agencies in the Pacific region even as it influenced those agencies’ visions and plans.
Black Europe and the African Diaspora
Edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton, and Stephen Small University of Illinois Press, 2008 Library of Congress D1056.2.B55H56 2009 | Dewey Decimal 305.89604
The presence of Blacks in a number of European societies has drawn increasing interest from scholars, policymakers, and the general public. This interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary collection penetrates the multifaceted Black presence in Europe, and, in so doing, complicates the notions of race, belonging, desire, and identities assumed and presumed in revealing portraits of Black experiences in a European context. In focusing on contemporary intellectual currents and themes, the contributors theorize and re-imagine a range of historical and contemporary issues related to the broader questions of blackness, diaspora, hegemony, transnationalism, and "Black Europe" itself as lived and perceived realities.
Contributors are Allison Blakely, Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Tina Campt, Fred Constant, Alessandra Di Maio, Philomena Essed, Terri Francis, Barnor Hesse, Darlene Clark Hine, Dienke Hondius, Eileen Julien, Trica Danielle Keaton, Kwame Nimako, Tiffany Ruby Patterson, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Stephen Small, Tyler Stovall, Alexander G. Weheliye, Gloria Wekker, and Michelle M. Wright.
In Caribbean and Atlantic Diaspora Dance: Igniting Citizenship, Yvonne Daniel provides a sweeping cultural and historical examination of diaspora dance genres. In discussing relationships among African, Caribbean, and other diasporic dances, Daniel investigates social dances brought to the islands by Europeans and Africans, including quadrilles and drum-dances as well as popular dances that followed, such as Carnival parading, Pan-Caribbean danzas,rumba, merengue, mambo, reggae, and zouk. Daniel reviews sacred dance and closely documents combat dances, such as Martinican ladja, Trinidadian kalinda, and Cuban juego de maní. In drawing on scores of performers and consultants from the region as well as on her own professional dance experience and acumen, Daniel adeptly places Caribbean dance in the context of cultural and economic globalization, connecting local practices to transnational and global processes and emphasizing the important role of dance in critical regional tourism.
Clear Word and Third Sight examines the strands of a collective African diasporic consciousness represented in the work of a number of Black Caribbean writers. Catherine A. John shows how a shared consciousness, or “third sight,” is rooted in both pre- and postcolonial cultural practices and disseminated through a rich oral tradition. This consciousness has served diasporic communities by creating an alternate philosophical “worldsense” linking those of African descent across space and time.
Contesting popular discourses about what constitutes culture and maintaining that neglected strains in negritude discourse provide a crucial philosophical perspective on the connections between folk practices, cultural memory, and collective consciousness, John examines the diasporic principles in the work of the negritude writers Léon Damas, Aimé Césaire, and Léopold Senghor. She traces the manifestations and reworkings of their ideas in Afro-Caribbean writing from the eastern and French Caribbean, as well as the Caribbean diaspora in the United States. The authors she discusses include Jamaica Kincaid, Earl Lovelace, Simone Schwarz-Bart, Audre Lorde, Paule Marshall, and Edouard Glissant, among others. John argues that by incorporating what she calls folk groundings—such as poems, folktales, proverbs, and songs—into their work, Afro-Caribbean writers invoke a psychospiritual consciousness which combines old and new strategies for addressing the ongoing postcolonial struggle.
This broad overview by an established poet and cultural critic reveals the rich tapestry of African American poetry as it has emerged over the past century.
From early 20th-century writings to present-day poetry slams, African American poetry exhibits an impressive range of style and substance. Lorenzo Thomas has written an important new history of the genre that offers a critical reassessment of its development in the 20th century within the contexts of modernism and the troubled racial history of the United States.
Basing his study on literary history, cultural criticism, and close readings, Thomas revives and appraises the writings of a number of this century's most important African American poets, including Margaret Walker, Amiri Baraka, Askia M. Toure, Harryette Mullen, and Kalamu ya Salaam. Thomas analyzes the work of Fenton Johnson within the context of emerging race consciousness in Chicago, contributes to critical appraisals of William Stanley Braithwaite and Melvin B. Tolson, and examines the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout the book, Thomas demonstrates the continuity within the Afrocentric tradition while acknowledging the wide range of stylistic approaches and ideological stances that the tradition embraces.
By reassessing the African American poetry tradition, Thomas effectively reassesses the history of all 20th-century American literature by exploring avenues of debate that have not yet received sufficient attention. Written with intelligence and humor, his book is itself an extraordinary measure that reflects years of scholarship and opens up African American poetry to a wider audience.
In A Language of Song, Samuel Charters—one of the pioneering collectors of African American music—writes of a trip to West Africa where he found “a gathering of cultures and a continuing history that lay behind the flood of musical expression [he] encountered everywhere . . . from Brazil to Cuba, to Trinidad, to New Orleans, to the Bahamas, to dance halls of west Louisiana and the great churches of Harlem.” In this book, Charters takes readers along to those and other places, including Jamaica and the Georgia Sea Islands, as he recounts experiences from a half-century spent following, documenting, recording, and writing about the Africa-influenced music of the United States, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
Each of the book’s fourteen chapters is a vivid rendering of a particular location that Charters visited. While music is always his focus, the book is filled with details about individuals, history, landscape, and culture. In first-person narratives, Charters relates voyages including a trip to the St. Louis home of the legendary ragtime composer Scott Joplin and the journey to West Africa, where he met a man who performed an hours-long song about the Europeans’ first colonial conquests in Gambia. Throughout the book, Charters traces the persistence of African musical culture despite slavery, as well as the influence of slaves’ songs on subsequent musical forms. In evocative prose, he relates a lifetime of travel and research, listening to brass bands in New Orleans; investigating the emergence of reggae, ska, and rock-steady music in Jamaica’s dancehalls; and exploring the history of Afro-Cuban music through the life of the jazz musician Bebo Valdés. A Language of Song is a unique expedition led by one of music’s most observant and well-traveled explorers.
One of the few interdisciplinary volumes on Bahia available, The Making of Brazil’s Black Mecca: Bahia Reconsidered contains contributions covering a wide chronological and topical range by scholars whose work has made important contributions to the field of Bahian studies over the last two decades. The authors interrogate and problematize the idea of Bahia as a Black Mecca, or a haven where Brazilians of African descent can embrace their cultural and spiritual African heritage without fear of discrimination. In the first section, leading historians create a century-long historical narrative of the emergence of these discourses, their limitations, and their inability to effect meaningful structural change. The chapters by social scientists in the second section present critical reflections and insights, some provocative, on deficiencies and problematic biases built into current research paradigms on blackness in Bahia. As a whole the text provides a series of insights into the ways that inequality has been structured in Bahia since the final days of slavery.
The Making of the New Negro examines black masculinity in the period of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s in America and was marked by an outpouring of African American art, music, theater and literature. The Harlem Renaissance, or New Negro Movement, began attracting extensive academic attention in the 1990s as scholars discovered how complex, significant, and fascinating it was.
Drawing on African American texts, archives, unpublished writings, and contemporaneous European discourses, this book highlights both the canonical figures of the New Negro Movement and African American culture such as W. E. B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Alain Locke, and Richard Wright, and other writers such as Wallace Thurman, who have not received as much scholarly attention despite their significant contributions to the movement.
Anna Pochmara offers a striking combination of thorough literary analysis and historicist investigation in order to provide novel insights into one of the most important periods of black history in the United States.
Often called the “most African” part of Brazil, the northeastern state of Bahia has the country’s largest Afro-descendant population and a black culture renowned for its vibrancy. In Mama Africa, Patricia de Santana Pinho examines the meanings of Africa in Bahian constructions of blackness. Combining insights from anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies, Pinho considers how Afro-Bahian cultural groups, known as blocos afro, conceive of Africanness, blackness, and themselves in relation to both. Mama Africa is a translated, updated, and expanded edition of an award-winning book published in Brazil in 2004. Central to the book, and to Bahian constructions of blackness, is what Pinho calls “the myth of Mama Africa,” the idea that Africa exists as a nurturing spirit inside every black person.
Pinho explores how Bahian cultural production influences and is influenced by black diasporic cultures and the idealization of Africa—to the extent that Bahia draws African American tourists wanting to learn about their heritage. Analyzing the conceptions of blackness produced by the blocos afro, she describes how Africa is re-inscribed on the body through clothes, hairstyles, and jewelry; once demeaned, blackness is reclaimed as a source of beauty and pride. Turning to the body’s interior, Pinho explains that the myth of Mama Africa implies that black appearances have corresponding black essences. Musical and dance abilities are seen as naturally belonging to black people, and these traits are often believed to be transmitted by blood. Pinho argues that such essentialized ideas of blackness render black culture increasingly vulnerable to exploitation by the state and commercial interests. She contends that the myth of Mama Africa, while informing oppositional black identities, overlaps with a constraining notion of Bahianness promoted by the government and the tourist industry.
Nationalizing Blackness uses the music of the 1920s and 1930s to examine Cuban society as it begins to embrace Afrocuban culture. Moore examines the public debate over “degenerate Africanisms” associated with comparas or carnival bands; similar controversies associated with son music; the history of blackface theater shows; the rise of afrocubanismo in the context of anti-imperialist nationalism and revolution against Gerardo Machado; the history of cabaret rumba; an overview of poetry, painting, and music inspired by Afrocuban street culture; and reactions of the black Cuban middle classes to afrocubanismo. He has collected numerous illustrations of early twentieth-century performers in Havana, many included in this book.
Nationalizing Blackness represents one of the first politicized studies of twentieth-century culture in Cuba. It demonstrates how music can function as the center of racial and cultural conflict during the formation of a national identity.
In Queering Black Atlantic Religions Roberto Strongman examines Haitian Vodou, Cuban Lucumí/Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé to demonstrate how religious rituals of trance possession allow humans to understand themselves as embodiments of the divine. In these rituals, the commingling of humans and the divine produces gender identities that are independent of biological sex. As opposed to the Cartesian view of the spirit as locked within the body, the body in Afro-diasporic religions is an open receptacle. Showing how trance possession is a primary aspect of almost all Afro-diasporic cultural production, Strongman articulates transcorporeality as a black, trans-Atlantic understanding of the human psyche, soul, and gender as multiple, removable, and external to the body.
Originally published in 2003 in Portuguese, The Sorcery of Color argues that there are longstanding and deeply-rooted relationships between racial and gender inequalities in Brazil. In this pioneering book, Elisa Larkin Nascimento examines the social and cultural movements that have attempted, since the early twentieth century, to challenge and eradicate these conjoined inequalities.
The book's title describes the social sleight-of-hand that disguises the realities of Brazilian racial inequity. According to Nascimento, anyone who speaks of racism—or merely refers to another person as black—traditionally is seen as racist. The only acceptably non-racist attitude is silence. At the same time, Afro-Brazilian culture and history have been so overshadowed by the idea of a general "Brazilian identity" that to call attention to them is also to risk being labeled racist.
Incorporating leading international scholarship on Pan Africanism and Afrocentric philosophy with the writing of Brazilian scholars, Nascimento presents a compelling feminist argument against the prevailing policy that denies the importance of race in favor of a purposefully vague concept of ethnicity confused with color.
In Spiritual Citizenship N. Fadeke Castor employs the titular concept to illuminate how Ifá/Orisha practices informed by Yoruba cosmology shape local, national, and transnational belonging in African diasporic communities in Trinidad and beyond. Drawing on almost two decades of fieldwork in Trinidad, Castor outlines how the political activism and social upheaval of the 1970s set the stage for African diasporic religions to enter mainstream Trinidadian society. She establishes how the postcolonial performance of Ifá/Orisha practices in Trinidad fosters a sense of belonging that invigorates its practitioners to work toward freedom, equality, and social justice. Demonstrating how spirituality is inextricable from the political project of black liberation, Castor illustrates the ways in which Ifá/Orisha beliefs and practices offer Trinidadians the means to strengthen belonging throughout the diaspora, access past generations, heal historical wounds, and envision a decolonial future.