Aesthetic Citizenship is an ethnographic study of the role of theatrical performance in questions regarding immigration, citizenship, and the formation of national identity. Focusing on Paris in the twenty-first century, Emine Fisek analyzes the use of theater by immigrant-rights organizations there and examines the relationship between aesthetic practices and the political personhoods they negotiate.
From neighborhood associations and humanitarian alliances to arts organizations both large and small, Fisek traces how theater has emerged as a practice with the perceived capacity to address questions regarding immigrant rights, integration, and experience. In Aesthetic Citizenship, she explores how the stage, one of France’s most evocative cultural spaces, has come to play a role in contemporary questions about immigration, citizenship and national identity. Yet Fisek’s insightful research also illuminates Paris’s broader historical, political, and cultural through-lines that continue to shape the relationship between theater and migration in France.
By focusing on how French public discourses on immigration are not only rendered meaningful but also inhabited and modified in the context of activist and arts practice, Aesthetic Citizenship seeks to answer the fundamental question: is theater a representational act or can it also be a transformative one?
Joyce Moore Turner's Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance is a study of the emergence of African American radicalism in Harlem, a crossroads of the African Diaspora in the early twentieth century. Turner reveals that the Harlem Renaissance was more than just an artistic fluorescence; it was also a political movement to counter racism and colonialism.
To explore the roots of the Caribbean emigres' radical ideology and the strategies used to extend agitation from Harlem to national and international platforms, the study draws on the papers and writings of Hermina Huiswoud, Cyril Briggs, the Reverend E. Ethelred Brown, Langston Hughes, and Richard B. Moore, as well as from interviews and biographies of related contemporary figures. It also incorporates census records, FBI files, and hundreds of documents from the recently opened Russian Archive.
Through a focus on Otto Huiswoud, the sole African American charter member of the Communist Party, and his wife, Hermina, Turner exposes the complex developments within the socialist and communist parties on the question of race. The account ranges beyond Harlem to Europe, Africa, and the Soviet Union to reveal the breadth, depth, and nearly global reach of the Afro-Caribbean activists' activities.
What unites and what divides Americans as a nation? Who are we, and can we strike a balance between an emphasis on our divergent ethnic origins and what we have in common? Opening with a survey of American literature through the vantage point of ethnicity, Werner Sollors examines our evolving understanding of ourselves as an Anglo-American nation to a multicultural one and the key role writing has played in that process.
Challenges of Diversity contains stories of American myths of arrival (pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, slave ships at Jamestown, steerage passengers at Ellis Island), the powerful rhetoric of egalitarian promise in the Declaration of Independence and the heterogeneous ends to which it has been put, and the recurring tropes of multiculturalism over time (e pluribus unum, melting pot, cultural pluralism). Sollors suggests that although the transformation of this settler country into a polyethnic and self-consciously multicultural nation may appear as a story of great progress toward the fulfillment of egalitarian ideals, deepening economic inequality actually exacerbates the divisions among Americans today.
Ethnic literature figures prominently in the current debate on multiculturalism, but even its supporters have had little to say about it as literature, stressing instead its political and sociological context. Thomas J. Ferraro, in this lively and accessible study of modern fiction by Americans of immigrant background, argues that the best of these stories demand—and reward—close reading and attention to questions of genre and literary form.
Ferraro engages the literature of immigration and mobility by asking what motivates its authors and what their work actually accomplishes. He concentrates on five diverse examples of the "up-from-the-ghetto" narrative: Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers, Henry Roth's Call It Sleep, Henry Miller's "The Tailor Shop," and Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. To Ferraro the unsuspected value of these works is that they recast the conventions of ethnic representation, illustrating the power of ethnic writing to capture and redirect the national literary imagination.
Ferraro's sharply observed reading of these five works shows how such reenactments of immigrant mobility test the ideology of assimilation against the writer's experience. Ethnic Passages will refocus discussion of how literature addresses the American conflict between ethnic heritage and the greater opportunities of "mainstream" society.
Hanif Kureishi is a proper Englishman. Almost. So observes biographer Kenneth Kaleta. Well known for his films My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, the Anglo-Asian screenwriter, essayist, and novelist has become one of the leading portrayers of Britain's multicultural society. His work raises important questions of personal and national identity as it probes the experience of growing up in one culture with roots in another, very different one.This book is the first critical biography of Hanif Kureishi. Kenneth Kaleta interviewed Kureishi over several years and enjoyed unlimited access to all of his working papers, journals, and personal files. From this rich cache of material, he opens a fascinating window onto Kureishi's creative process, tracing such works as My Beautiful Laundrette, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, The Buddha of Suburbia, London Kills Me, The Black Album, and Love in a Blue Time from their genesis to their public reception. Writing for Kureishi fans as well as film and cultural studies scholars, Kaleta pieces together a vivid mosaic of the postcolonial, hybrid British culture that has nourished Kureishi and his work.
In the early 1920s, Fannie Hurst’s enormous popularity made her the highest-paid writer in America. She conquered the literary scene at the same time the silent movie industry began to emerge as a tremendously profitable and popular form of entertainment. Abe C. Ravitz parallels Hurst’s growing acclaim with the evolution of silent films, from which she borrowed ideas and techniques that furthered her career. Ravitz notes that Hurst was amazingly adept at anticipating what the public wanted. Sensing that the national interest was shifting from rural to urban subjects, Hurst set her immigrant tales and her "woiking goil" tales in urban America. In her early stories, she tried to bridge the gap between Old World and New World citizens, each somewhat fearful and suspicious of the other. She wrote of love and ethnicity—bringing the Jewish Mother to prominence—of race relations and prejudice, of the woman alone in her quest for selfhood. Ravitz argues, in fact, that her socially oriented tales and her portraits of women in the city clearly identify her as a forerunner of contemporary feminism.
Ravitz brings to life the popular culture from 1910 through the 1920s, tracing the meteoric rise of Hurst and depicting the colorful cast of characters surrounding her. He reproduces for the first time the Hurst correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, Charles and Kathleen Norris, and Gertrude Atherton. Fellow writers Rex Beach and Vachel Lindsay also play important roles in Ravitz’s portrait of Hurst, as does Zora Neale Hurston, who awakened Hurst’s interest in the Harlem Renaissance and in race relations, as shown in Hurst’s novel Imitation of Life.
In Immigrant Acts, Lisa Lowe argues that understanding Asian immigration to the United States is fundamental to understanding the racialized economic and political foundations of the nation. Lowe discusses the contradictions whereby Asians have been included in the workplaces and markets of the U.S. nation-state, yet, through exclusion laws and bars from citizenship, have been distanced from the terrain of national culture. Lowe argues that a national memory haunts the conception of Asian American, persisting beyond the repeal of individual laws and sustained by U.S. wars in Asia, in which the Asian is seen as the perpetual immigrant, as the “foreigner-within.” In Immigrant Acts, she argues that rather than attesting to the absorption of cultural difference into the universality of the national political sphere, the Asian immigrant—at odds with the cultural, racial, and linguistic forms of the nation—displaces the temporality of assimilation. Distance from the American national culture constitutes Asian American culture as an alternative site that produces cultural forms materially and aesthetically in contradiction with the institutions of citizenship and national identity. Rather than a sign of a “failed” integration of Asians into the American cultural sphere, this critique preserves and opens up different possibilities for political practice and coalition across racial and national borders. In this uniquely interdisciplinary study, Lowe examines the historical, political, cultural, and aesthetic meanings of immigration in relation to Asian Americans. Extending the range of Asian American critique, Immigrant Acts will interest readers concerned with race and ethnicity in the United States, American cultures, immigration, and transnationalism.
In Migrant Sites, Dalia Kandiyoti presents a compelling corrective to the traditional immigrant and melting pot story. This original and wide-ranging study embraces Jewish, European, and Chicana/o and Puerto Rican literatures of migration and diasporization through the literary works of Abraham Cahan, Willa Cather, Estela Portillo Trambley, Sandra Cisneros, Piri Thomas, and Ernesto Quiñonez. The author offers a transformed understanding of the ways in which the sense of place shapes migration imaginaries in U.S. writing. Place is a crucial category, one that along with race, class, and gender, has a profound impact in shaping migration and diaspora identities and storytelling. Migrant Sites highlights enclosure as a prominent sense of place and translocality as its counterpart in diaspora experiences created in fiction. Repositioning national literature as diaspora literature, the author shows that migrant legacies such as colonialism, empire, borders, containment, and enclosure are part of the American story and constitute the “diaspora sense of place.”
Mongrel Nation surveys the history of the United Kingdom’s African, Asian, and Caribbean populations from 1948 to the present, working at the juncture of cultural studies, literary criticism, and postcolonial theory. Ashley Dawson argues that during the past fifty years Asian and black intellectuals from Sam Selvon to Zadie Smith have continually challenged the United Kingdom’s exclusionary definitions of citizenship, using innovative forms of cultural expression to reconfigure definitions of belonging in the postcolonial age. By examining popular culture and exploring topics such as the nexus of race and gender, the growth of transnational politics, and the clash between first- and second-generation immigrants, Dawson broadens and enlivens the field of postcolonial studies.
Mongrel Nation gives readers a broad landscape from which to view the shifting currents of politics, literature, and culture in postcolonial Britain. At a time when the contradictions of expansionist braggadocio again dominate the world stage, Mongrel Nation usefully illuminates the legacy of imperialism and suggests that creative voices of resistance can never be silenced.Dawson
“Elegant, eloquent, and full of imaginative insight, Mongrel Nation is a refreshing, engaged, and informative addition to post-colonial and diasporic literary scholarship.”
—Hazel V. Carby, Yale University
“Eloquent and strong, insightful and historically precise, lively and engaging, Mongrel Nation is an expansive history of twentieth-century internationalist encounters that provides a broader landscape from which to understand currents, shifts, and historical junctures that shaped the international postcolonial imagination.”
—May Joseph, Pratt Institute
Ashley Dawson is Associate Professor of English at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island. He is coeditor of the forthcoming Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism.
The Necropolitical Theater: Race and Immigration on the Contemporary Spanish Stage demonstrates how theatrical production in Spain since the early 1990s has reflected national anxieties about immigration and race. Jeffrey K. Coleman argues that Spain has developed a “necropolitical theater” that casts the non-European immigrant as fictionalized enemy—one whose nonwhiteness is incompatible with Spanish national identity and therefore poses a threat to the very Europeanness of Spain. The fate of the immigrant in the necropolitical theater is death, either physical or metaphysical, which preserves the status quo and provides catharsis for the spectator faced with the notion of racial diversity. Marginalization, forced assimilation, and physical death are outcomes suffered by Latin American, North African, and sub-Saharan African characters, respectively, and in these differential outcomes determined by skin color
Coleman identifies an inherent racial hierarchy informed by the legacies of colonization and religious intolerance.
Drawing on theatrical texts, performances, legal documents, interviews, and critical reviews, this book challenges Spanish theater to develop a new theatrical space. Jeffrey K. Coleman proposes a “convivial theater” that portrays immigrants as contributors to the Spanish state and better represents the multicultural reality of the nation today.
With global debt, labor, and environmental crises on the rise, the precarious position of people in the Global South has become a significant force moving people across countries, continents, and around the world. Through a comparative study of contemporary trans-Atlantic immigrant narratives in French, Spanish, and English, Alexandra Perisic offers an account of a multilingual Atlantic under neoliberalism. More specifically, Precarious Crossings: Immigration, Neoliberalism, and the Atlantic examines how contemporary authors from the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America—including Roberto Bolaño, Giannina Braschi, Maryse Condé, Fatou Diome, Marie Ndiaye, and Caryl Phillips, among others—have reconceptualized the Atlantic from a triangular space into a multipolar one, introducing new destinations for contemporary immigrants and establishing new Atlantic connections.
Perisic argues that in traveling beyond the postcolonial route that connects former colonizer and former colonized, these authors also shift their focus from cultural difference and national belonging to precarity—a condition characterized by a lack of economic and social stability and protection—as a shared characteristic under global neoliberalization. She demonstrates how contemporary Atlantic narratives reveal the contradictions inherent in neoliberalism as an ideology—thereby showing how they further participate in Atlantic literary and cultural dialogues and push against literary conventions of various genre as they explore the complexities of a globalized Atlantic.
Nearly two million Jewish men, women, and children emigrated from Eastern Europe between 1882 and 1924 and settled in, or passed through, the Lower East Side of New York City. Sanford Sternlicht tells the story of his own childhood in this vibrant neighborhood and puts it within the context of fourteen early twentieth-century East Side writers. Anzia Yezierska, Abraham Cahan, Michael Gold, and Henry Roth, and others defined this new "Jewish homeland" and paved the way for the later great Jewish American novelists.
Sternlicht discusses the role of women, the Yiddish Theater, secular values, the struggle between generations, street crime, politics, labor unions, and the importance of newspapers and periodicals. He documents the decline of Yiddish culture as these immigrants blended into what they called "The Golden Land."
During Poland’s century-long partition and in the interwar period of Poland’s reemergence as a state, Polish writers on both sides of the ocean shared a preoccupation with national identity. Polish-American immigrant writers revealed their persistent, passionate engagement with these issues, as they used their work to define and consolidate an essentially transnational ethnic identity that was both tied to Poland and independent of it.
By introducing these varied and forgotten works into the scholarly discussion, Traitors and True Poles recasts the literary landscape to include the immigrant community’s own competing visions of itself. The conversation between Polonia’s creative voices illustrates how immigrants manipulated often difficult economic, social, and political realities to provide a place for and a sense of themselves. What emerges is a fuller picture of American literature, one vital to the creation of an ethnic consciousness.
This is the first extended look at Polish-language fiction written by turn-of-the-century immigrants, a forgotten body of American ethnic literature. Addressing a blind spot in our understanding of immigrant and ethnic identity and culture, Traitors and True Poles challenges perceptions of a silent and passive Polish immigration by giving back its literary voice.
The early twentieth century was marked by massive migration of southern Europeans to the United States. Transatlantic Subjects views this diaspora through the lens of Greek migrant life to reveal the emergence of transnational forms of subjectivity.
According to Ioanna Laliotou, cultural institutions and practices played an important role in the formation of migrant subjectivities. Reconstructing the cultural history of migration, her book points out the relationship between subjectivity formation and cultural practices and performances, such as publishing, reading, acting, storytelling, consuming, imitating, parading, and traveling. Transatlantic Subjects then locates the development of these practices within key sites and institutions of cultural formation, such as migrant and fraternal associations, educational institutions, state agencies and nongovernmental organizations, mental institutions, coffee shops, the church, steamship companies, banks, migration services, and chambers of commerce.
Ultimately, Laliotou explores the complex and situational entanglements of migrancy, cultural nationalism, and the politics of self. Reading against the grain of hegemonic narratives of cultural and migration histories, she reveals how migrancy produced distinctive forms of sociality during the first half of the twentieth century.
Transnational Asian American Literature: Sites and Transits examines the diasporic and transnational aspects of Asian American literature and asserts the importance of a globalized imaginary in what has been considered an ethnic subgenre of American literature. The thirteen essays in this volume engage works of prose and poetry as aesthetic articulations of the fluid transnational identities formed by Asian American writers who move within and across national boundaries. With its emphasis on the transmigratory and flexible nature of Asian American literary production, the collection argues for an equally balanced mode of criticism that extends our readings of these works beyond the traditional limits of the American literary canon. Individual chapters feature such writers as Chang-rae Lee, Karen Tei Yamashita, Jhumpa Lahiri, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Ha Jin, with attention to such discourses as gender, space and mobility, transnationalism, identity, genre, and post-coloniality.
During the first half of the twentieth century, American Jews demonstrated a commitment to racial justice as well as an attraction to African American culture. Until now, the debate about whether such black-Jewish encounters thwarted or enabled Jews’ claims to white privilege has focused on men and representations of masculinity while ignoring questions of women and femininity. The White Negress investigates literary and cultural texts by Jewish and African American women, opening new avenues of inquiry that yield more complex stories about Jewishness, African American identity, and the meanings of whiteness.
Lori Harrison-Kahan examines writings by Edna Ferber, Fannie Hurst, and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as the blackface performances of vaudevillian Sophie Tucker and controversies over the musical and film adaptations of Show Boat and Imitation of Life. Moving between literature and popular culture, she illuminates how the dynamics of interethnic exchange have at once produced and undermined the binary of black and white.
Since the colonial days, American women have traveled, migrated, and relocated, always faced with the challenge of reconstructing their homes for themselves and their families. Women, America, and Movement offers a journey through largely unexplored territory—the experiences of migrating American women. These narratives, both real and imagined, represent a range of personal and critical perspectives; some of the women describe their travels as expansive and freeing, while others relate the dreadful costs and sacrifices of relocating.
Despite the range of essays featured in this study, the writings all coalesce around the issues of politics, poetry, and self- identity described by Adrienne Rich as the elements of the "politics of location," treated here as the politics of relocation. The narratives featured in this book explore the impact of race, class, and sexual economics on migratory women, their self-identity, and their roles in family and social life. These issues demonstrate that in addition to geographic place, ideology is itself a space to be traversed.
By examining the writings of such women as Louise Erdrich, Zora Neale Hurston, and Gertrude Stein, the essayists included in this volume offer a variety of experiences. The book confronts such issues as racist politicking against Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian immigrants; sexist attitudes that limit women to the roles of wife, mother, and sexual object; and exploitation of migrants from Appalachia and of women newly arrived in America.
These essays also delve into the writings themselves by looking at what happens to narrative structure as authors or their characters cross geographic boundaries. The reader sees how women writers negotiate relocation in their texts and how the written word becomes a place where one finds oneself.
This book grows out of the question, "At this particular moment of tense geopolitics and inter-linked economies, what insights can South Asian American writing offer us about living in the world?"
South Asian American literature, with its focus on the multiple geographies and histories of the global dispersal of South Asians, pulls back from a close-up view of the United States to reveal a wider landscape of many nations and peoples.
South Asian American poets, novelists, and playwrights depict the nation as simultaneously discrete and entwined with the urgencies of places as diverse as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Pakistan, and Trinidad. Drawing on the cosmopolitan sensibility of scholars like Anthony Appiah, Vinay Dharwadker, Martha Nussbaum, Bruce Robbins, and Amartya Sen, this book exhorts North American residents to envision connectedness with inhabitants of other lands. The world out there arrives next door.