Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness / Edition 1

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Kamari Maxine Clarke and Deborah A. Thomas argue that a firm grasp of globalization requires an understanding of how race has constituted, and been constituted by, global transformations. Focusing attention on race as an analytic category, this state-of-the-art collection of essays explores the changing meanings of blackness in the context of globalization. It illuminates the connections between contemporary global processes of racialization and transnational circulations set in motion by imperialism and slavery; between popular culture and global conceptions of blackness; and between the work of anthropologists, policymakers, religious revivalists, and activists and the solidification and globalization of racial categories.

A number of the essays bring to light the formative but not unproblematic influence of African American identity on other populations within the black diaspora. Among these are an examination of the impact of “black America” on racial identity and politics in mid-twentieth-century Liverpool and an inquiry into the distinctive experiences of blacks in Canada. Contributors investigate concepts of race and space in early-twenty-first century Harlem, the experiences of trafficked Nigerian sex workers in Italy, and the persistence of race in the purportedly non-racial language of the “New South Africa.” They highlight how blackness is consumed and expressed in Cuban timba music, in West Indian adolescent girls’ fascination with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in the incorporation of American rap music into black London culture. Connecting race to ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, and religion, these essays reveal how new class economies, ideologies of belonging, and constructions of social difference are emerging from ongoing global transformations.

Contributors. Robert L. Adams, Lee D. Baker, Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Tina M. Campt, Kamari Maxine Clarke, Raymond Codrington, Grant Farred, Kesha Fikes, Isar Godreau, Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe, John L. Jackson Jr., Oneka LaBennett, Naomi Pabst, Lena Sawyer, Deborah A. Thomas

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Globalization and Race will be an invaluable resource for courses on diaspora, anthropology, and cultural studies. The keen attention to subjectivities created through discourses and practices that figure race, gender, class, national, and continental differences in global contexts makes this volume distinctive.”—Paulla A. Ebron, author of Performing Africa

“Contrary to the glib forecasts of many academic and journalistic pundits, race is not going away; rather it is energetically reorganizing itself and working through new global divisions. Globalization and Race examines this new context by inquiring into the various ways that emerging global processes are fundamentally reshaping the way people of African descent experience and theorize racial identity.”—David Scott, author of Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment

“Globalization and Race is an invaluable resource for anyone in the humanities or the social sciences who wants to understand how the contemporary politics of race is being re-conceptualized. The essays cover a wide range of topics and provide new theoretical vocabularies not only for understanding the globalizing forces of capital, labor, and technologies, but for the new hierarchies of racial ordering which emerge in their wake. This will quickly become the standard work in the field.”—Hazel V. Carby, author of Cultures in Babylon: Black Britain and African America

Peter Wade

“An interesting and useful book that will undoubtedly appear on many reading lists, this volume is welcome for its explicit aim of paying close attention to global processes in the construction of race.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822337720
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kamari Maxine Clarke is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University. She is the author of Mapping Yorùbá Networks: Power and Agency in the Making of Transnational Communities, also published by Duke University Press.

Deborah A. Thomas is Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. She is the author of Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and the Politics of Culture in Jamaica, also published by Duke University Press.

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Read an Excerpt

Globalization and Race

By Kamari Maxine Clarke, Deborah A. Thomas

Duke University Press

Copyright © 2006 Duke University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8223-8759-6




As I was exploring the ways in which Franz Boas's Journal of American Folk-Lore articulated ideas about Africa during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, the threads of evidence led me to the Dakotas and Hawaii and to the early missions on the Sandwich Islands during the 1840s—west across the Pacific, not east across the Atlantic. These civilizing missions form a discursive diaspora of colonial desires that are as much a part of (and have forged) global processes as the political and economic dimensions so often referenced. Indeed, missionaries and reformers deployed folklore in complex ways to contribute to a project of racial uplift that linked Hawaiians, American Indians, and African Americans together during the late nineteenth century. During this earlier period of globalization, the macronarrative of Christianity worked hand in glove with the reproduction of racial ideologies to discipline peoples whose customs and behaviors did not conform to the puritanical (and tyrannical) desires of colonial administrators and church leaders. In this essay, I demonstrate that in forging networks across diverse populations, reformers engaged in projects whose civilizing missions transcended the specific racial and colonial contexts that confronted them, ultimately leading to the formulation of a universal model of industrial education.

Uplift and the Uses of Folklore

Documenting, conserving, and reifying African cultural practices in the Americas was not initiated by Melville and Frances Herskovits in the 1920s, as Sally and Richard Price have contended (Price and Price 2003). In the United States, these processes started right after the Civil War when missionaries and military personnel began documenting the languages and customs of indigenous peoples in North America and the South Pacific, and of African Americans during reconstruction. In order to "convert the heathen," the colonial logic went, they first had to understand and document their languages, behaviors, and customs. Although the term culture (as we know it today) was not employed, missionaries, scholars, and educators confidently described and documented aboriginal practices that were "a real hindrance and obstacle in the way of civilization" (Eastman 1896: 93). This obsession with eradicating traditional African, Indian, and Hawaiian practices and beliefs motivated people like Merrill E. Gates, president of the influential reform group The Lake Mohonk Friends of the Indian, to confidently declare: "We are for a vanishing policy" (M. Gates 1900:12). By the 1880s, anthropologists joined this group and eventually took over the colonial project of documenting disappearing cultures in the wake of "Christian civilization."

By calibrating culture as the index with which to measure civilization, missionaries, reformers, educators, and ethnologists sutured culture to race, helping to fuel the exploitation of imperial and colonial regimes. The goal of these maneuvers was racial uplift, a pedagogical project that emphasized individual savings and thrift, back-breaking and exploitative labor, temperance and sobriety, fidelity and monogamy, and Christian salvation in the disciplining of countless "savages" from South Africa to South Dakota, Montego Bay to Maui, Perth to Pohnpei (Gaines 1996; Hoxie 1984; Brumble 1988). Reformers and missionaries involved in these projects shared a putatively progressive Lamarckian vision that social and racial traits were acquired and then transmitted to the next generation. In the United States (inclusive of its territories and protectorates) and the Caribbean, the racial uplift discourse made a particularly deep impress, so deep that even the venerable Frederick Douglass played this race-as-indexed-by-culture card in his influential speech on Colored American Day at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He juxtaposed American Negroes with the extended Fon family from present-day Benin who resided at the fair in a living ethnological exhibition called the Dahomey Village. Pushing the racial uplift metaphor to its limits, Douglass implored his rapt audience to "look at the progress the Negro has made in thirty years! We have come up out of Dahomey unto this. Measure the Negro. But not by the standard of the splendid civilization of the Caucasian. Bend down and measure him—measure him from the depths out of which he has risen" (Douglass 2000 [1893]: 194).

There is little epistemological difference between Douglass's call to "bend down and measure him" and reformers' vanishing policies. Both articulated a theory of racial progress predicated upon the eradication of putatively indigenous customs and beliefs. This was the same gospel of racial uplift that flowed around the world during the 1890s as American Protestant missionaries began to dominate the foreign mission movement and the United States slowly, but never surely, blazed its way through the Wounded Knee massacre, Chinese exclusion, the Spanish-American War, acquisition of island territories, Jim Crow segregation, and the Progressive Era (Hutchison 1987:62-124).

In 1922, Elsie Clews Parson published "Playing Dead Twice in the Road" in the Journal of American Folk-Lore. This was a short folktale from Elizabeth City County, Virginia, that articulated the distinctive pan-African trickster motif. This was not unusual. During the 1920s and early 1930s, Boas's Journal of American Folk-Lore published a half-dozen issues dedicated exclusively to African and African American folklore. Affectionately known as the "Negro Numbers," these issues became standard fare for "New Negroes" as they documented and celebrated African cultural patterns in the Americas. What made this one tale from 1922 unique was the fact that a member of the Hampton Folk-Lore Society had originally recorded it in 1893. The educators and graduates of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute had formed the society to record cultural practices of rural blacks in order to demonstrate that industrial education had succeeded in fostering the so-called Christian civilization of its graduates, in part by identifying how much African heritage remained to be rooted out. "Playing Dead Twice in the Road" was one of hundreds of tales, jokes, and conundrums Alice M. Bacon, founder of the Hampton Folk-Lore Society, organized into many notebooks of fieldwork during the last decade of the nineteenth century. During the Harlem Renaissance, therefore, African Americans interested in celebrating their rich African heritage were actually drawing from folklore that had been collected with the intention of eradicating it.

To begin to understand the complicated racial project articulated at Hampton during the 1890s, we must turn to the founder of the Hampton Institute, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, and his father, Dr. Richard Armstrong. In 1831 after graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary and marrying Clarissa Chapman, a teacher at the Pestalozzian Infant School in Brooklyn, Richard Armstrong became a missionary in the South Pacific. The newlyweds were initially placed on the island of Maui, where they stayed for seven years until Dr. Armstrong was appointed to the First Native Church in Honolulu. During his years on Maui, Armstrong observed that the natives were in need of "steady industrial occupation." Thus, as he ministered to the health of the populace, he also convinced the Hawaiians to build schools, churches, sugar plantations, and saw mills.

Armstrong rose through the ranks of the missionary and government agencies and soon became the island's minister of education and a close advisor (both on spiritual and policy matters) to King Kamehameha III (Lindsey 1995:1-2; Talbot 1969 [1904]: 3-37; S. Armstrong 1909:1-4; "Death of Rev. Richard Armstrong" i860: 76-77). He was perhaps best known for his creation and administration of the many missionary and government schools bearing his distinct philosophy of moral and industrial education, which above all aimed to civilize the natives. Armstrong outlined this philosophy in a letter to King Kamehameha III in which he accepted the position as minister of public education in 1847:

No sphere of labor sir, would be more congenial to my feelings, than the department of public instruction, and I may add, no branch of the government, seems to me of more vital importance to the welfare, of the Hawaiian race than this. Education, intellectual, moral, and physical, is the great lever by which philanthropists of every land, are seeking to redeem and elevate the mass of people. Here it is of peculiar importance, where the glory and safety of the nation must depend in so great a degree upon the proper training of the young. If depopulation here is to be arrested; if the vices which are consuming the natives are to be eradicated; if an indolent and thriftless people are to become industrious and thrifty: if Christian institutions are to be perpetuated, the work must be occomplished [sic] mainly where it has been so prosperously begun, in the education of the young. (Quoted in M. Armstrong 1887:29-30)

Writing to his daughter on October 6,1844, he explained why the "inhabitants" were in need of this type of education: "Had they skill and industry they might abound in every good thing.... But, poor creatures, they will not very soon shake off the low wretched habits of their former state. Their government, until recently, was one of the worst forms of despotism ... and in those days a character was formed which will not soon be entirely reformed. When I look over this valley, I think what a little Yankee skill would do here" (S. Armstrong, Letters: RA/CA). Armstrong even complained in a letter of February 18,1844 that the "king himself is as near to being an animal as man can well be & most of the high chiefs are ignorant, lazy, and stupid." His remedy to help advance what he called "Christian civilization" among these near-animal heathens was to improve "the heart, the head & the body at once." As he surmised, "this is a lazy people & if they are ever to be made industrious the work must begin with the young. So I am making strenuous efforts to have some sort of manual labor connected with every school.... Without industry they cannot be moral" (R. Armstrong: RA/RCA).

Dr. Armstrong's intimate knowledge of the traditional language, customs, and folklore of his charges was the key to his success as an educator, missionary, and confidant to the king. Using his genuine respect of Hawaiian language and culture, he was an important facilitator of the so-called great awakening when thousands of Hawaiians converted to Christianity by the mid-nineteenth century. Armstrong often used folklore or other cultural markers to demonstrate how far the Hawaiians had come, suggesting, for example, that the natives "have better clothes than they used to have" and explaining, "we rarely see a native now unclad or even wearing native kapa." But he also used such markers to show how much civilizing work remained to be done, lamenting that the natives "still live in small and filthy grass huts, destitute of every comfort, and herding together often a dozen sleeping on mats in one small house without even a partition" (M. Armstrong 1887: 63).

During the Armstrongs' final year on Maui in 1839, Mrs. Armstrong gave birth to Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the sixth of their ten children. Samuel grew up close to his father and would later explain that his father's philosophy of education shaped that of Hampton. Comparing the Lahaina-luna Seminary, which taught Greek and Latin, to the Hilo Boarding and Manual Labor School, Samuel Armstrong explained, "As a rule the former turned out more brilliant, the latter less advanced but more solid men. In making the plan of the Hampton Institute that of the Hilo School seemed the best to follow.... Hence came our policy of teaching only English and the system of industrial training at Hampton. Its graduates are not only to be good teachers but skilled workers, able to build homes and earn a living for themselves and encourage others to do the same" (S. Armstrong 1909:4-5).

In 1860 Samuel Armstrong left Hawaii to attend Williams College, and as the Civil War erupted, he accepted a commission as captain, recruiting and training Company D of the 125th Regiment of New York. Promoted to major and then to colonel, Armstrong was put in command of the 9th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops. In March of 1865 Abraham Lincoln made the 26-year-old Hawaiian citizen a brevet brigadier general.

As the war ended, he searched for a mission in life, both personal and Christian. As a commander of Negro troops, he had been impressed by "their quick response to good treatment and to discipline" and he was convinced that African Americans yearned for education because he witnessed how his soldiers were "often studying their spelling books under fire" (S. Armstrong 1909: 6). Immediately after the war, the commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, General Oliver Otis Howard, appointed Armstrong as the superintendent for the tidewater area of Virginia; its headquarters was the small town of Hampton. General Armstrong's jurisdiction was populated with a large number of formerly enslaved people, and his area quickly became a bellwether for radical reconstruction experiments as missionaries, bureau agents, and the new freedmen and women negotiated competing agendas, policies, and plans.

After the war, the American Missionary Association took the lead in establishing schools for African Americans in the South. Armstrong used his access to both government and missionary resources to establish a co-ed industrial and normal school that would train African American elementary school teachers. This school opened in 1868 with two teachers and fifteen pupils, but it grew quickly and soon became independent of both the missionary association and the government. Armstrong often touted his brand of industrial and moral education, known as the Hampton idea, as "the only way to make them good Christians" (S. Armstrong 1909:12). The Hampton idea found powerful support among philanthropists, missionaries, and the nation's political and industrial leaders. Although interest was generated by Hampton's civilizing mission, white backers were also attracted to its political and economic components which, as they saw it, would foster regional stability by discouraging students from participating in party politics while encouraging the efficient exploitation of their labor (Spivey 1978: 22). The majority of black colleges followed Hampton's model, and when Hampton's own graduate, Booker T. Washington, reproduced Armstrong's model at Tuskegee Institute in the late nineteenth century, it became the most influential model for black schools (Fredrickson 1971:216).

Not only did Armstrong create the blueprint for Washington's popular industrial education with its concomitant policies of racial accommodation and cultural assimilation, he also helped to shape the federal government's policies regarding Native American assimilation through education. From 1878 through 1893, Hampton "experimented" with Indian education, again employing the notion that industrial education helped to civilize the savages (Lindsey 1995; Robinson 1977; D. Adams 1995: 28-59). In 1878, Captain R. H. Pratt, who after the Civil War had commanded black troops and Indian scouts on the Great Plains, searched without success for a school to continue the education of a group of Indians under his control. General Armstrong welcomed the opportunity to extend Hampton's civilizing mission to American Indians and invited Pratt to bring them to Hampton. The experiment was seemingly so successful that President Rutherford B. Hayes announced in his State of the Union address the following year that the Department of Interior would reproduce Armstrong's Hampton idea for Native Americans, extolling the virtues of "the experiment of sending a number of Indian children of both sexes to the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, in Virginia, to receive an elementary English education and practical instruction in farming and other useful industries" (Hayes 1966 [1879]: 1390). And that year, 1879, Captain Pratt, along with some American Indian students from Hampton, started the influential Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Like Tuskegee and Hampton for Negroes, the Carlisle School became a defining institution for the education policy to assimilate Indians.

Armstrong's gospel of industrial education was even spread to Africa. With close ties to the American Missionary Association, Hampton provided many recruits for the association's work of converting and educating West Africans (A. White 1878: 54; also see Sharps 1991:121). General Armstrong deployed a transnational and transracial discourse about Christian civilization, assimilation, and industrial education to build an institution that defined dominant approaches to the education of African Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and even Africans. And, like his father, General Armstrong realized that understanding the folklore and cultural practices of these peoples would facilitate the mission.

Bedeviling Christian Civilization

Armstrong explained the role "comparative ethnology" played within the process of "civilization" in his introduction to a series of 1878 reports for Hampton's Southern Workman that explored Negroes' "firm belief in witchcraft and conjuration." He compared the way Negroes and Sandwich Islanders practiced the "tangle of superstition, demonology, and fetish worship," which he described as "a combination of Salem and Central Africa." After discussing the parallels between the Hawaiian "'kahuna' or native witchdoctor" and the Negro conjure doctor, he concluded that both groups had "the same love of the supernatural, and dense ignorance of the laws of living," and that the Negroes thus possessed the "elements which form the soil for a growth of superstition as rank and as fatal as that which is helping to depopulate Hawaii" (S. Armstrong 1878:26).


Excerpted from Globalization and Race by Kamari Maxine Clarke, Deborah A. Thomas. Copyright © 2006 Duke University Press. Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Globalization and the Transformations of Race / Deborah A. Thomas and Kamari Maxine Clarke 1

Part I. Diasporic Movements, Missions and Modernities

Missionary Positions / Lee D. Baker 37

History at the Crossroads: Vodu and the Modernization of the Dominican Borderlands / Robert L. Adams 55

Diaspora and Desire: Gendering “Black America” in Black Liverpool / Jacqueline Nassy Brown 73

Diaspora Space, Ethnographic Space: Writing History Between the Lines / Tina M. Campt 93

“Mama, I’m Walking to Canada”: Black Geopolitics and Invisible Empires / Naomi Pabst 112

Part II. Geograpies of Racial Belonging

Mapping Transnationality: Roots Tourism and the Institutionalization of Ethnic Heritage / Kamari Maxine Clarke 133

Emigration and the Spatial Production of Difference from Cape Verde / Kesha Fikes 154

Folkloric “Others”: Blanqueamiento and the Celebration of Blackness as an Exception in Puerto Rico / Isar P. Godreau 171

Gentrification, Globalization, and Georaciality / John L. Jackson Jr. 188

Recasting “Black Venus” in the “New” African Dispora / Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe 206

“Shooting the White Girl First”: Race in Post-aparteid South Africa / Grant Farred 226

Part III. Popular Blacknesses, “Authenticity,” and New Measures of Legitimacy

Havana’s Timba: A Macho Sound for Black Sex / Ariana Hernandez-Reguant 249

Reading Buffy and “Looking Proper”: Race, Gender, and Consumption among West Indian Girls in Brooklyn / Oneka Labennett 279

The Homegrown: Rap, Race, and Class in London / Raymond Codrington 299

Racialization, Gender, and the Negotiation of Power in Stockholm’s African Dance Courses / Lena Sawyer 316

Modern Blackness: Progress, “America,” and the Politics of Popular Culture in Jamaica / Deborah A. Thomas 335

Bibliography 355

Contributors 391

Index 395

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