In West Indian in the West, Percy Hintzen draws on extensive ethnographic work with the West Indian community in the San Francisco Bay area to illuminate the ways in which social context affects ethnic identity formation. The memories, symbols, and images with which West Indians identify in order to differentiate themselves from the culture which surrounds them are distinct depending on what part of the U.S. they live in. West Indian identity comes to take on different meanings within different locations in the United States.
In the San Francisco Bay area, West Indians negotiate their identity within a system of race relations that is shaped by the social and political power of African Americans. By asserting their racial identity as black, West Indians make legal and official claims to resources reserved exclusively for African Americans. At the same time, the West Indian community insulates itself from the problems of the black/white dichotomy in the U.S. by setting itself apart.
Hintzen examines how West Indians publicly assert their identity by making use of the stereotypic understandings of West Indians which exist in the larger culture. He shows how ethnic communities negotiate spaces for themselves within the broader contexts in which they live.
Author Biography: Percy C. Hintzen is Associate Professor and Chair of African American Studies and former Director of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of California at Berkeley He is the author of The Costs of Regime Survival: Racial Mobilization, Elite Domination, and Control of the State in Guyana and Trinidad.
|Publisher:||New York University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Percy C. Hintzen is Associate Professor and Chair of African American Studies and former Director of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of California at Berkeley He is the author of The Costs of Regime Survival: Racial Mobilization, Elite Domination, and Control of the State in Guyana and Trinidad.
Table of Contents
|1||Identity, Arena, and Performance: West Indians in San Francisco Bay||9|
|2||Performance and Meaning in West Indian Immigrant Identity: Public Displays of Self-Representation||34|
|3||Promoters of Popular Culture||55|
|4||Negotiating the Black-White Dichotomy: Marrying an African American||88|
|5||Negotiating the Black-White Dichotomy: Images of African Americans||111|
|6||Constructing an Immigrant Identity: Notions of a Permanent Foreigner||163|
|Epilogue: The Construction of Identity||188|
|About the Author||201|
What People are Saying About This
"An extremely interesting work, addressing an important area—the constructed nature of ethnicity. Ethnicity is, in part, a performance—something one does as well as something one is. The West Indians' unique and complex relationship with other African Americans . . . and the question of how and under what circumstances ethnic distinctiveness is emphasized and under what circumstances it is minimized is fascinating. The Bay area context, in which West Indians are vastly outnumbered by African Americans, makes for a new and different take on these issues."
-Philip Kasinitz,author of Caribbean New York: Black Immigrants and the Politics of Race
"Hintzen's detailed anaylsis of West Indians in the western United States opens the door to new understandings of race class boundaries and their role in maintaining social hierarchies and imbalanced social relationships among racial and ethnic groups. This richly textured ethnography will be required reading for scholars on race and immigration for years to come."
-Pedro Noguera,Harvard University Graduate School of Education
"Percy Hintzen has given us an intimate and richly textured portrait of West Indian community and identity in northern California. An important scholar of both global politics and American ethnic studies, Hintzen . . . deftly demonstrates how West Indians navigate the precarious terrain of race and racialization in U.S. society by negotiating their distance from African America."
-Elaine Kim,University of California, Berkeley
"Percy Hintzen's book has made me see so many things afresh. After reading West Indian in West, I see not only life in San Francisco differently, but also life in Brooklyn and in Silicon Valley differently. With subtlety and sensitivity, Hintzen makes us smarter about diasporas, racisms, class aspirations, marriages and public performances in contemporary America. This is an important book."
-Cynthia Enloe,author of Bananas, Beaches, and Bases
"An important contribution to discussions of identity construction in a globalized world and will be enjoyed and debated by students of ethnic studies."