Luso-Tropicalism and Its Discontents: The Making and Unmaking of Racial Exceptionalism

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2019-05-01 22:11Z by Steven

Luso-Tropicalism and Its Discontents: The Making and Unmaking of Racial Exceptionalism

Berghahn Books
April 2019
346 pages
15 illus., bibliog., index
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78920-113-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78920-114-7

Edited by:

Warwick Anderson, Janet Dora Hine Professor of Politics, Governance and Ethics
Department of History; Charles Perkins Centre
University of Sydney

Ricardo Roque, Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences
University of Lisbon

Ricardo Ventura Santos, Senior Researcher at Fundação Oswaldo Cruz; Professor
Department of Anthropology
National Museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Luso-Tropicalism and Its Discontents: The Making and Unmaking of Racial Exceptionalism

Modern perceptions of race across much of the Global South are indebted to the Brazilian social scientist Gilberto Freyre, who in works such as The Masters and the Slaves claimed that Portuguese colonialism produced exceptionally benign and tolerant race relations. This volume radically reinterprets Freyre’s Luso-tropicalist arguments and critically engages with the historical complexity of racial concepts and practices in the Portuguese-speaking world. Encompassing Brazil as well as Portuguese-speaking societies in Africa, Asia, and even Portugal itself, it places an interdisciplinary group of scholars in conversation to challenge the conventional understanding of twentieth-century racialization, proffering new insights into such controversial topics as human plasticity, racial amalgamation, and the tropes and proxies of whiteness.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Luso-tropicalism and Its Discontents / Warwick Anderson, Ricardo Roque and Ricardo Ventura Santos
    • Chapter 1. Gilberto Freyre’s view of miscegenation and its circulation in the Portuguese Empire (1930s-1960s) / Cláudia Castelo
    • Chapter 2. Gilberto Freyre: Racial Populism and Ethnic Nationalism / Jerry Dávila
    • Chapter 3. Anthropology and Pan-Africanism at the Margins of the Portuguese Empire: Trajectories of Kamba Simango / Lorenzo Macagno
    • Chapter 4. Eugenics, Genetics and Anthropology in Brazil: The Masters and the Slaves, Racial Miscegenation and its Discontents / Robert Wegner and Vanderlei Sebastião de Souza
    • Chapter 5. Gilberto Freyre and the UNESCO Research Project on Race Relations in Brazil / Marcos Chor Maio
    • Chapter 6. An Immense Mosaic”: Race-Mixing and the Creation of the Genetic Nation in 1960s Brazil / Rosanna Dent and Ricardo Ventura Santos
    • Chapter 7. The Racial Science of Patriotic Primitives: Mendes Correia in ‘Portuguese Timor’ / Ricardo Roque
    • Chapter 8. Re-Assessing Portuguese Exceptionalism: Racial Concepts and Colonial Policies toward the Bushmen in Southern Angola, 1880s-1970s / Samuël Coghe
    • Chapter 9. “Anthropo-Biology”, Racial Miscegenation and Body Normality: Comparing Bio-Typological Studies in Brazil and Portugal, 1930-1940 / Ana Carolina Vimieiro Gomes
    • Chapter 10. Luso-Tropicalism Debunked, Again: Race, Racism, and Racialism in Three Portuguese-Speaking Societies / Cristiana Bastos
    • Chapter 11. Being (Goan) Modern in Zanzibar: Mobility, Relationality and the Stitching of Race / Pamila Gupta
  • Afterword I / Nélia Dias
  • Afterword II / Peter Wade
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An Earth-Colored Sea: ‘Race’, Culture and the Politics of Identity in the Post-Colonial Portuguese-Speaking World

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2013-07-19 03:51Z by Steven

An Earth-Colored Sea: ‘Race’, Culture and the Politics of Identity in the Post-Colonial Portuguese-Speaking World

Berghahn Books
176 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-57181-607-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-57181-608-5

Miguel Vale de Almeida,  Professor of Anthropology
Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE), Lisbon

Although the post-colonial situation has attracted considerable interest over recent years, one important colonial power – Portugal – has not been given any attention. This book is the first to explore notions of ethnicity, “race”, culture, and nation in the context of the debate on colonialism and postcolonialism. The structure of the book reflects a trajectory of research, starting with a case study in Trinidad, followed by another one in Brazil, and ending with yet another one in Portugal. The three case studies, written in the ethnographic genre, are intertwined with essays of a more theoretical nature. The non-monographic, composite – or hybrid – nature of this work may be in itself an indication of the need for transnational and historically grounded research when dealing with issues of representations of identity that were constructed during colonial times and that are today reconfigured in the ideological struggles over cultural meanings.


  • Foreword and Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1. Potogee: Being Portuguese in Trinidad
  • Chapter 2. Powers, Products, and Passions: The Black Movement in a Town of Bahia, Brazil
  • Chapter 3. Tristes Luso-Tropiques: The Roots and Ramifications of Luso-Tropicalist Discourses
  • Chapter 4. “Longing for Oneself”: Hybridism and Miscegenation in Colonial and Postcolonial Portugal
  • Chapter 5. Epilogue of Empire: East Timor and the Portuguese Postcolonial Catharsis
  • Chapter 6. Pitfalls and Perspectives in Anthropology, Postcolonialism, and the Portuguese-Speaking World
  • Epilogue: A Sailor’s Tale
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The Colours of the Empire: Racialized Representations during Portuguese Colonialism

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2013-07-19 02:58Z by Steven

The Colours of the Empire: Racialized Representations during Portuguese Colonialism

Berghahn Books
February 2013
308 pages
26 ills & tables, bibliog., index
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-85745-762-2
eBook ISBN: 978-0-85745-763-9

Patrícia Ferraz de Matos, Professor of Anthropology
University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

Translated from the Portuguese by Mark Ayton

The Portuguese Colonial Empire established its base in Africa in the fifteenth century and would not be dissolved until 1975. This book investigates how the different populations under Portuguese rule were represented within the context of the Colonial Empire by examining the relationship between these representations and the meanings attached to the notion of ‘race’. Colour, for example, an apparently objective criterion of classification, became a synonym or near-synonym for ‘race’, a more abstract notion for which attempts were made to establish scientific credibility. Through her analysis of government documents, colonial propaganda materials and interviews, the author employs an anthropological perspective to examine how the existence of racist theories, originating in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, went on to inform the policy of the Estado Novo (Second Republic, 1933–1974) and the production of academic literature on ‘race’ in Portugal. This study provides insight into the relationship between the racist formulations disseminated in Portugal and the racist theories produced from the eighteenth century onward in Europe and beyond.


  • Tables and illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Origins of a prejudice: the roots of racial discrimination
    • The discovery of human variety: early formulations
    • The emergence of ‘modern’ racism
    • Racialism under attack
  • Chapter 2. Discourse, images, knowledge: the place of the colonies and their populations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire
    • The formation of Portuguese colonialism and ‘colonial knowledge’
    • The Colonial Act and the ‘creation’ of the Indígena
    • Colonial propaganda: ‘marketing the empire’
    • Colonial representations in primary and secondary school readers
    • Cinema and colonialism in action: moving pictures on colonial themes (1928-53)
    • Recurrent images and prejudices
    • The production of ‘anthropological knowledge’ of the colonies
    • Racial purity, miscegenation and the appropriation of myths
  • Chapter 3. Exhibiting the empire, imagining the nation: representations of the colonies and the overseas Portuguese in the great exhibitions
    • The age of the great exhibitions
    • Representations of the Portuguese colonies, 1924-31
    • A ‘Guinean village’ at the Lisbon Industrial Exhibition (1932)
    • The Portuguese Colonial Exhibition of 1934: concept and objectives
    • Representations of the Portuguese colonies, 1934-39
    • The Exhibition of the Portuguese World (1940): concept and objectives
    • Colonial representations in Portugal dos Pequenitos
    • The status of the colonized populations at the exhibitions: the exotic vs. the familiar
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix I: Film
  • Appendix II: Texts from the padrões of Portugal dos Pequenitos
  • Bibliography
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Race, Color, Identity: Rethinking Discourses about ‘Jews’ in the Twenty-First Century

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, History, Judaism, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2013-07-19 00:38Z by Steven

Race, Color, Identity: Rethinking Discourses about ‘Jews’ in the Twenty-First Century

Berghahn Books
May 2013
398 pages
bibliog., index
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-85745-892-6
eBook ISBN: 978-0-85745-893-3

Edited by:

Efraim Sicher, Professor of Comparative and English Literature
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Advances in genetics are renewing controversies over inherited characteristics, and the discourse around science and technological innovations has taken on racial overtones, such as attributing inherited physiological traits to certain ethnic groups or using DNA testing to determine biological links with ethnic ancestry. This book contributes to the discussion by opening up previously locked concepts of the relation between the terms color, race, and “Jews”, and by engaging with globalism, multiculturalism, hybridity, and diaspora. The contributors—leading scholars in anthropology, sociology, history, literature, and cultural studies—discuss how it is not merely a question of whether Jews are acknowledged to be interracial, but how to address academic and social discourses that continue to place Jews and others in a race/color category.


  • Foreword / Sander Gilman
  • Introduction: Rethinking Discourses about “Jews” / Efraim Sicher
    • Chapter 1. “I’m not White – I’m Jewish”: The Racial Politics of American Jews / Cheryl Greenberg
    • Chapter 2. Reflections on Black/Jewish Relations in the Age of Obama / Ibrahim Sundiata
    • Chapter 3. Stains, Plots, and the Neighbor Thing: Jews, Blacks and Philip Roth’s Utopias / Adam Zachary Newton
    • Chapter 4. Spaces of Ambivalence: Blacks and Jews in New York City / Catherine Rottenberg
    • Chapter 5. African-American Culture, Anthropological Practices and the Jewish “Race” in Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men / Dalit Alperovich
    • Chapter 6. Jewish Characters in Weeds: Reinserting ‘Race’ into the Postmodern Discourse on American Jews / Hannah Adelman Komy Ofir and Shlomi Deloia
    • Chapter 7. A Member of the Club? How Black Jews Negotiate Black Anti-Semitism and Jewish Racism / Bruce Haynes
    • Chapter 8. Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel: The Discourses of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Racism / Steven Kaplan
    • Chapter 9. Black-Jews in Academic and Institutional Discourse / Yonah Zianga
    • Chapter 10. The “Descendants of David” of Madagascar: Crypto-Judaic identities in 21st century Africa / Edith Bruder
    • Chapter 11. After the Fact: “Jews” in Post-1945 German Physical Anthropology / Amos Morris-Reich
    • Chapter 12. Genes as Jewish History?: Human Population Genetics in the Service of Historians / Noa Sophie Kohler and Dan Mishmar
    • Chapter 13. Sarrazin and the Myth of the “Jewish Gene” / Klaus Hödl
    • Chapter 14. Blood, Soul, Race, and Suffering: Full-Bodied Ethnography and Expressions of Jewish Belonging / Fran Markowitz
    • Chapter 15. Jews, Muslims, European Identities: Multiculturalism and Anti-Semitism in Britain / Efraim Sicher
    • Chapter 16. Brothers in Misery: Re-connecting Sociologies of Racism and Anti-Semitism / Glynis Cousin and Robert Fine
    • Chapter 17. Race by the Grace of God: Race, Religion, and the Construction of “Jew” and “Arab” / Ivan Davidson Kalmar
  • Select Bibliography
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
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Germany and the Black Diaspora: Points of Contact, 1250-1914

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2013-07-15 15:37Z by Steven

Germany and the Black Diaspora: Points of Contact, 1250-1914

Berghahn Books
July 2013
262 pages
25 ills, 2 maps, bibliog., index
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-85745-953-4
eBook ISBN: 978-0-85745-954-1

Edited by:

Mischa Honeck, Research Fellow
German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.

Martin Klimke, Associate Professor of History
New York University, Abu Dhabi

Anne Kuhlmann, Research Fellow in Russian History
Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States, Berlin

The rich history of encounters prior to World War I between people from German-speaking parts of Europe and people of African descent has gone largely unnoticed in the historical literature—not least because Germany became a nation and engaged in colonization much later than other European nations. This volume presents intersections of Black and German history over eight centuries while mapping continuities and ruptures in Germans’ perceptions of Blacks. Juxtaposing these intersections demonstrates that negative German perceptions of Blackness proceeded from nineteenth-century racial theories, and that earlier constructions of “race” were far more differentiated. The contributors present a wide range of Black–German encounters, from representations of Black saints in religious medieval art to Black Hessians fighting in the American Revolutionary War, from Cameroonian children being educated in Germany to African American agriculturalists in Germany’s protectorate, Togoland. Each chapter probes individual and collective responses to these intercultural points of contact.


  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction / Mischa Honeck, Martin Klimke, and Anne Kuhlmann
    • Chapter 1. The Calenberg Altarpiece: Black African Christians in Renaissance Germany / Paul Kaplan
    • Chapter 2. Black Masques: Notions of Blackness in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries / Kate Lowe
    • Chapter 3. Ambiguous Duty: Black Servants at German Ancien Régime Courts / Anne Kuhlmann
    • Chapter 4. Real and Imagined Africans in German Court divertissements / Rashid-S. Pegah
    • Chapter 5. From American Slaves to Hessian Subjects: Silenced Black Narratives of the American Revolution / Maria Diedrich
    • Chapter 6. The German Reception of African American Writers in the Long Nineteenth Century / Heike Paul
    • Chapter 7. “On the Brain of the Negro”: Race, Abolitionism, and Friedrich Tiedemann’s Scientific Discourse on the African Diaspora / Jeannette Eileen Jones
    • Chapter 8. Liberating Sojourns? African American Travelers in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Germany / Mischa Honeck
    • Chapter 9. Global Proletarians, Uncle Toms and Native Savages: The Antinomies of Black Identity in Nineteenth-Century Germany / Bradley Naranch
    • Chapter 10. We Shall Make Farmers of Them Yet: Tuskegee’s Uplift Ideology in German Togoland / Kendahl Radcliffe
    • Chapter 11. Education and Migration: Cameroonian School Children and Apprentices in the German Metropole, 1884-1914 / Robbie Aitken
  • Afterword: Africans in Europe: New Perspectives / Dirk Hoerder
  • Select Bibliography
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
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Race, Ethnicity, and Nation: Perspectives from Kinship and Genetics

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2012-06-27 02:18Z by Steven

Race, Ethnicity, and Nation: Perspectives from Kinship and Genetics

Berghahn Books
Winter 2007
210 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84545-355-8
Paperback ISBN:978-1-84545-681-8

Edited by

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Race, ethnicity and nation are all intimately linked to family and kinship, yet these links deserve closer attention than they usually get in social science, above all when family and kinship are changing rapidly in the context of genomic and biotechnological revolutions. Drawing on data from assisted reproduction, transnational adoption, mixed race families, Basque identity politics and post-Soviet nation-building, this volume provides new and challenging ways to understand race, ethnicity and nation.


  • Preface and Acknowledgements
  • 1. Race, Ethnicity and Nation: Perspectives from Kinship and Genetics / Peter Wade
  • 2. Race, Genetics and Inheritance: Reflections upon the Birth of ‘Black’ Twins to a ‘White’ IVF Mother / Katharine Tyler
  • 3. Race, Biology and Culture in Contemporary Norway: Identity and Belonging in Adoption, Donor Gametes and Immigration / Signe Howell and Marit Melhuus
  • 4. ‘I want her to learn her language and maintain her culture’: Transnational Adoptive Families’ Views of ‘Cultural Origins’ / Diana Marre
  • 5. Racialization, Genes and the Reinventions of Nation in Europe / Ben Campbell
  • 6. Kinship Language and the Dynamics of Race: The Basque Case / Enric Porqueres i Gené
  • 7. The Transmission of Ethnicity: Family and State – A Lithuanian Perspective / Darius Daukšas
  • 8. Media Storylines of Culturally Hybrid Persons and Nation / Ben Campbell
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Glossary
  • Index
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Fetishes and Monuments: Afro-Brazilian Art and Culture in the 20th Century

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2012-05-16 16:01Z by Steven

Fetishes and Monuments: Afro-Brazilian Art and Culture in the 20th Century

Berghahn Books
224 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84545-363-3
Paberback ISBN: ISBN 978-1-84545-711-2

Roger Sansi, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology
Goldsmith’s College, London

One hundred years ago in Brazil the rituals of Candomblé were feared as sorcery and persecuted as crime. Its cult objects were fearsome fetishes. Nowadays, they are Afro-Brazilian cultural works of art, objects of museum display and public monuments. Focusing on the particular histories of objects, images, spaces and persons who embodied it, this book portrays the historical journey from weapons of sorcery looted by the police, to hidden living stones, to public works of art attacked by religious fanatics that see them as images of the Devil, former sorcerers who have become artists, writers, and philosophers. Addressing this history as a journey of objectification and appropriation, the author offers a fresh, unconventional, and illuminating look at questions of syncretism, hybridity and cultural resistance in Brazil and in the Black Atlantic in general.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Culture and Objectification in the Black Rome
  • 1. ‘Making the Saint’: Spirits, Shrines and Syncretism in Candomblé
  • 2. From Sorcery to Civilisation: The Objectification of Afro-Brazilian Culture
  • 3. From Informants to Scholars: Appropriating Afro-Brazilian Culture
  • 4. From Weapons of Crime to Jewels of the Crown: Candomblé in Museums
  • 5. From the Shanties to the Mansions: Candomblé as National Heritage
  • 6. Modern Art and Afro-Brazilian Culture in Bahia
  • 7. Authenticity and Commodification in Afro-Brazilian Art
  • 8. Candomblé as Public Art: The Orixás of Tororó
  • 9. Re-appropriations of Afro-Brazilian Culture
  • Bibliography
  • Index


Salvador da Bahia, once the colonial capital of Brazil, is nowadays the capital of Afro-Brazilian culture. Some tourist brochures call it the ‘Black Rome’, ‘the biggest inheritor of African traditions out of Africa’, and ‘Cradle and home of African descendent traditions (including samba, capoeira and Candomblé)’. Candomblé in particular is often presented as the heart of this Afro-Brazilian culture.

The origin of the term ‘Candomblé is unknown, it seems to have appeared in Bahia in the first half of the nineteenth century in reference to parties of slaves and freed slaves (sometimes in the plural, Candomblés), and also in connection with the practice of sorcery (feitigaria). Some sources presumed that these activities had an African origin; the newspapers often complained about the noise of drums at Candomblé parties, and the charlatanism of the sorcerers; but from very early on, people of all social groups, origins and races came to the parties and made use of sorcery. For the editor of a newspaper in 1868, ‘these absurd Candomblés are so rooted, that I do no longer admire seeing Black people involved, when White people are the more passionate devotees of the cause’.

Of course, few among the white or almost white upper classes would publicly acknowledge their participation: to do so would be an embarrassment. Now and then the police disbanded the Candomblés and the sorcerers were put on trial, their instruments confiscated as ‘weapons of sorcery’. Nonetheless, it seems that Candomblé was never just an exclusive, secretive and resistant African affair: the sorcerers often had powerful patrons, people from across Bahian society took part in it. In fact, the sorcery of Candomblé was seen by many as the hidden force dominating the city, and writers like Marques or Joao do Rio affirm that ‘we are all ruled by the sorcerer’.

But when newspapers today talk about Candomblé, they do not denounce evil sorcery and outrageous parties. Instead, Candomblé is praised as African religion and cultural heritage. The objects of Candomblé are presented in museums as works of art. Participating in Candomblé is not an indignity, but something to be proud of. Intellectuals and politicians make their attendance at and even their participation in its rituals, both public and official. Gilberto Gil, musician and Minister of Culture, is also a ‘lord’ (ogan) in a Candomblé house.

How did Candomblé go from Sorcery to National Heritage? How did Candomblé become ‘Culture’? This question has not been properly addressed until now. Since its very origin, the literature on Candomblé has been obsessed with demonstrating the African origins and continuities of its rituals and myths. This tradition of studies, what I will call ‘Afro-Brazilianism’, has built an image of Candomblé as a ‘microcosmic Africa’ (Bastide 1978c), where the philosophical and artistic essences of the continent are preserved.

In recent decades Afro-Brazilianism has been severely criticised by social scientists interested in racial politics, who have argued that Afro-Brazilian culture is an ‘invented tradition’, and Afro-Brazilianist discourse a form of domination by the Brazilian elites over the black populations of Brazil. In transforming Candomblé into folklore, Afro-Brazilianism has imposed a ‘culturalism1 more concerned with the protection of an objectified cultural heritage than with racial politics. In Hanchard’s terms Afro-Brazilian culture has been ‘reified’: ‘culture becomes a thing, not a deeply political process.’

This book starts trom a different point: the question is not if this culture is ‘authentic’ or a ‘fiction’, but how Candomblé has become Afro-Brazilian culture. Encompassing these two discourses, we will see how Afro-Brazilian culture is neither a repressed essence nor an invention, but the outcome of a dialectical process of exchange between the leaders of Candomblé and a cultural elite of writers, artists and anthropologists in Bahia. In this dialectical process the cultural and artistic values of national and international anthropologists, intellectuals and artists have been synthesised with the religious values of Candomblé, generating an unprecedented objectification: ‘Afro-Brazilian culture’. At the same time, the leaders of Candomblé have recognised their own practice as ‘Culture’, and have become the subjects of their own objectification.

The impasse between affirmative and critical views on Afro-Brazilian culture is a result of their rigid and incompatible notions of ‘culture’. For the Afro-Brazilianist tradition, African culture is an original, unchanging ‘system of representations’ that has resisted slavery, and which is ritually re-enacted in Candomblé. For its critics, this notion of ‘culture’ is a fixed image, a false projection of imperialist reason: Afro-Brazilian culture is just a masquerade that hides the racial inequalities of Brazil.

But a culture is neither a fixed ‘system of representations’ nor a rigid ideological projection. Cultures are always in construction: they are not immanent and self-contained, but transient and relative historical formations. And yet, this does not mean that they are just artificial and false constructions. After all, what is the problem with ‘culture becoming a thing’? Cultures are indeed the result of histories of objectification—processes of recognition of identity and alterity. But processes of objectification cannot be reduced to reification. Objectification does not preclude politics, but in many ways it is the precondition of any meaningful social action: it is precisely because culture is objectified that it can be discussed, used and appropriated by social actors.

This book will describe this process neither as resistance nor masquerade, but as a historical transformation of practices, values and discourses: a cultural history. On the one hand, it is unquestionable that many African traditions are present in Candomblé; nevertheless it is also true that its ritual practices have incorporated the history of Brazil in what has been called ‘syncretism’. On the other hand, intellectuals have objectified Candomblé as Afro-Brazilian culture. But this objectification is not just an ideological fixed image, a reification: it has been actively appropriated by the people of Candomblé, who have assumed the discourses and practices of Afro-Brazilian culture as their own. This process of appropriation can be understood in very similar terms to religious syncretism; in a way it has been a ‘syncretism of Culture’.

Before going any further, I will explain in more detail what I mean by ‘Culture’ and ‘objectification’, and how the Afro-Brazilian case can offer a particular perspective on a more universal cultural process of our time: the appropriation of ‘Culture’…

…The solution to the ‘Negro problem’ for this elite was the ‘whitening’ of Brazil (Skidmore 1995). Deploying in a very particular way the eugenic theories of their time, they thought that by increasing European immigration Brazil would progressively eliminate its majority of Black people (Moritz-Schwartz 1993). Blacks and mulattos, as degenerate races, would inevitably die out, unless they improved their ‘weak’ blood with the powerful new ‘stocks’ of Europeans that were arriving en masse in Brazil. But in Bahia there was no significant influx of European immigrants. There was no work for them: nourishing agriculture, and later industry, were concentrated in the south, around Sao Paulo. Bahia remained poor and Black, lost in its past, with a dormant economy, a provincial life and a small population until the 1940s. This is the period that Gil and Riserio (1988) have called a ‘hundred years of solitude’, beginning with the end of the slave trade. In this ‘decadent’ context, after three brilliant centuries of international exchange of people and things, Bahians were left to themselves: there was no substantial immigration or change in Bahia’s population, and a very specific local culture progressively took hold. Bahian society was extremely traditional, and marked by the cultural history of its overwhelming majority of African descendants…

Read the entire Introduction here.

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Identity Politics and the New Genetics: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2012-03-18 03:04Z by Steven

Identity Politics and the New Genetics: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging

Berghahn Books
January 2012
226 pages
tables & figs, bibliog., index
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-85745-253-5

Edited by:

Katharina Schramm, Senior Lecturer of Social Anthropology
Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

David Skinner, Reader in Sociology
Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom

Richard Rottenburg, Professor Social Anthropology
Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

Racial and ethnic categories have appeared in recent scientific work in novel ways and in relation to a variety of disciplines: medicine, forensics, population genetics and also developments in popular genealogy. Once again, biology is foregrounded in the discussion of human identity. Of particular importance is the preoccupation with origins and personal discovery and the increasing use of racial and ethnic categories in social policy. This new genetic knowledge, expressed in technology and practice, has the potential to disrupt how race and ethnicity are debated, managed and lived. As such, this volume investigates the ways in which existing social categories are both maintained and transformed at the intersection of the natural (sciences) and the cultural (politics). The contributors include medical researchers, anthropologists, historians of science and sociologists of race relations; together, they explore the new and challenging landscape where biology becomes the stuff of identity.


  • List of Illustrations and Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Ideas in Motion: Making Sense of Identity After DNA; Katharina Schramm, David Skinner, Richard Rottenburg
  • Chapter 1. ‘Race’ as a Social Construction in Genetics; Andrew Smart, Richard Tutton, Paul Martin, George Ellison
  • Chapter 2. Mobile Identities and Fixed Categories: Forensic DNA and the Politics of Racialised Data; David Skinner
  • Chapter 3. Race, Kinship and the Ambivalence of Identity; Peter Wade
  • Chapter 4. Identity, DNA, and the State in Post-Dictatorship Argentina; Noa Vaisman
  • Chapter 5. ‘Do You Have Celtic, Jewish, Germanic Roots?’ – Applied Swiss History Before and After DNA; Marianne Sommer
  • Chapter 6. Irish DNA: Making Connections and Making Distinctions in Y-Chromosome Surname Studies; Catherine Nash
  • Chapter 7. Genomics en route: Ancestry, Heritage, and the Politics of Identity Across the Black Atlantic; Katharina Schramm
  • Chapter 8. Biotechnological Cults of Affliction? Race, Rationality, and Enchantment in Personal Genomic Histories; Stephan Palmié
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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New Christians/’New Whites’: Sephardic Jews, Free People of Color, and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue, 1760-1789

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Chapter, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion on 2011-11-05 01:56Z by Steven

New Christians/’New Whites’: Sephardic Jews, Free People of Color, and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue, 1760-1789

Chapter (pages 314-332) in: The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West, 1450-1800
Berghahn Books
592 pages
Pb ISBN 978-1-57181-430-2; Hb ISBN 978-1-57181-153-0

Edited by: Paolo Bernardini and Norman Fiering

Chapter Author:

John D. Garrigus, Associate Professor of History
University of Texas, Austin

The case of Saint-Domingue’s Sephardim illustrates that the story of Jews in Europe’s expansion westward is about more than the survival or mutation of deeply rooted family traditions. Old World questions about Jewish political identity did not disappear in the Americas. Rather, these persistent issues forced colonists and their children born in the New World to reconcile European philosophies with American conditions. In the case of the largest slave colony in the Caribbean, Saint-Domingue’s Jews helped translate emerging French nationalism into an attack on racial prejudice that eventually produced the Haitian revolution. By raising complex issues of national identity and citizenship in French America after 1763, Sephardic merchants and planters provided a model for another group whose place in colonial society was equally ambiguous: Saint-Domingue’s free people of color.

In the mid-1780s, the self-proclaimed leaders of the colony’s “mulattos” adopted many of the techniques that colonial Jews used to fight for legal rights. Their challenge to a racial hierarchy that had only recently acquired full legitimacy threatened the ideological basis of plantation society. By 1791 political and military struggles between colonial “whites” and “mulattos” had become so vicious that a great slave rebellion was possible.

The civil positions of colonial Jews and free people of mixed European and African parentage were parallel because elites in France began to construct new definitions of French citizenship in the mid-eighteenth century. In Paris and elsewhere, Jansenist judges and Protestant leaders pushed royal administrators to recognize that property, loyalty, and civic utility, not orthodox Catholicism, defined French identity. At the same time, royal bureaucrats eager to open France to wealthy families born outside its borders began to free these influential immigrants from traditional legal disabilities. By 1789, therefore, the continuum of rights and disabilities separating non-French residents and native-born subjects of the French monarchy was increasingly simplified into two mutually exclusive categories: citizen and foreigner…

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