The (Un)Happy Objects of Affective Community

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2017-01-28 01:30Z by Steven

The (Un)Happy Objects of Affective Community

Cultural Studies
Volume 30, Issue 1 (2016)
pages 24-46
DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2014.899608

Alexandre Emboaba Da Costa, Assistant Professor, Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
University of Alberta, Canada

Affect permeates understandings of racial and cultural mixture as well as racial democracy in Brazil. Sentiments of interconnectedness, harmony and conviviality shape the ways in which Brazilians of diverse races/colours feel identity and belonging. These sentiments also drive hopeful attachments to possibilities for moving beyond race, influencing how people encounter and relate to racism and inequality. However, studies of race in Brazil tend to either take the affective for granted as positive unifying force or ignore its role in shaping the appeal of dominant racial discourses on identity, nation and belonging. Through an examination of the different ways people feel, experience and live orientations towards mixture and racial democracy as the dominant affective community, this paper analyzes the role the affective plays in constituting racial ideologies and shaping anti-racist action. I explore the ways histories of race, racism, privilege and disadvantage generate unequal attachments to and experiences of mixture and racial democracy as what Sara Ahmed calls ‘happy objects’, those objects towards which good feeling are directed, that provide a shared horizon of experience, and that shape an affective community with which all are assumed to be aligned. Not everyone attaches themselves to the same objects in the same way and for the same reasons – the affective community involves positive, hopeful attachments for some and an unhappy, alienating and unequally shared burden for others. These affective states demonstrate that histories of race and racism cannot be wished away through commonly asserted attachments to abstract ideals of shared belonging. At the same time, examining these affective states provides deeper understanding of the ways unequal attachments move people towards action or inaction in relation to race, racism and discrimination.

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Rearticulating Black Mixed-Race in the Era of Globalization: Hines Ward and the struggle for Koreanness in contemporary South Korean media

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-10-16 03:24Z by Steven

Rearticulating Black Mixed-Race in the Era of Globalization: Hines Ward and the struggle for Koreanness in contemporary South Korean media

Cultural Studies
Volume 28, Issue 3, 2014
pages 391-417
DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2013.840665

Ji-Hyun Ahn
University of Texas, Austin

Since the mid-2000s, the term multiculturalism has entered the Korean lexicon as migration has become more and more prevalent due to globalization. The cornerstone of this multicultural explosion was a 2006 visit by American football star Hines Ward, born to an African-American father and a Korean mother. As a black mixed-race sports celebrity, he suddenly became an emblematic media figure in the Korean televisual landscape, signifying a broader racial reconfiguration in Korean society. This media event – what I shall call ‘the Hines Ward moment’ – created and opened the discursive space for racial politics and multicultural issues in Korean society. Hence, this article aims to look at what this discursive explosion of multiculturalism and mixed-race means in the context of globalization. Reading the Hines Ward moment as a symbolic media text, the paper examines how the media discourse on Hines Ward articulates the issues of national identity and racial politics in contemporary Korean society. For analysis, newspaper articles, television programmes and television commercials that deal with the Hines Ward case are examined. By analyzing the modes of articulation of the Hines Ward moment, this study deconstructs the image of a ‘global, multicultural Korea’ shaped by the Korean media and examines the struggle for Koreanness in the televisual area of contemporary Korean media.

Introduction: imagining a multicultural, global Korea?

There has been a common belief that South Korea (hereafter, Korea) has always been a racially homogeneous country because of the strong myth of ‘one people one nation’ (hankyoreh hanminjok) (Shin 2006, G.-S. Han 2007). However, this common myth no longer seems as effective as it was in the past…

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Hybridity Theory and Kinship Thinking

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-06-27 01:12Z by Steven

Hybridity Theory and Kinship Thinking

Cultural Studies
Volume 19, Issue 5 (2005)
pages 602-621
DOI: 10.1080/09502380500365507

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

A parallel is posited between the ways hybridity and kinship are thought about in Western contexts, challenging the idea that kinship and biology tend to lead to narrow, roots-oriented, essentialized definitions of identity. Rather than being the opposite of rhizomic, diasporic hybridity, kinship and biology partake of the tension between roots and routes that is characteristic of all hybridity. Anthropological evidence on the character of Western kinship thinking is examined to elucidate some features of its flexibility. Theories of hybridity are seen as being themselves a type of kinship thinking.


Concepts of hybridity—and related ones of mestizaje, syncretism, creolization, mélange , métissage , mixture—have been widely deployed in cultural theory, especially in relation to fields in which racial and ethnic identifications are made (Anzalduá 1987, Bhabha 1994, Garcıá Canclini 1995, Gilroy 2000, Hale 1996, 1999, Ifekwunigwe 1999, Kapchan & Strong 1999, Nelson 1999, Smith 1997, Werbner & Modood 1997, Young 1995). The concept of diaspora, although not at first sight nor necessarily associated with processes of mixing, may be deployed to the same kind of effect, evoking a context or dynamic which creates mixing (Brah 1996, Hall 1996, Gilroy 2000).

In much of this work, there is a current that sees hybridity as potentially subversive of dominant ideologies and practices and leading to the dislocation and destabilization of entrenched essentialisms, often with a focus on racial and ethnic categories and boundaries, and frequently in colonial and post-colonial contexts. On the other hand, there is also an awareness that hybridity carries with it some other possibilities and meanings, which are seen in a less positive light. These possibilities revolve around ideas of roots, genealogical kinship links, biology and essentialism. As Kapchan and Strong (1999, p. 242) put it, ‘There is hybridity that may refer to and reify history and genealogy, for example, and hybridity that seems to make a mockery of it’. In a similar vein, Young (1995, pp. 24/5) distinguishes between ‘organic’ and ‘intentional’ modes of hybridity (see below). We are faced with a dualism in hybridity theory between potentially positive hybridity, which is dynamic, progressive, diasporic, rhizomic, subversive, anti-essentialist, routes-oriented and based on collage, montage and cut-and-mix; and a potentially negative hybridity, which is biological, genealogical, kinship-based, essentialist, roots-oriented and based on simple ideas of combining two wholes to make a third whole.

I argue that this dualism involves a narrow and stereotyped understanding of biology and kinship. Both of these domains are in fact characterized by dynamic processes of cultural practice which display their own tensions between roots and routes, between essentialisms and non-essentialisms, between being and becoming. Recognizing this does not dissolve the basic dualism outlined above—it makes biology and kinship straddle the divide, as hybridity itself is said to do—but it re-situates kinship and biology in important ways. It carries the theoretically and politically important implication that identities which invoke either kinship and/or biology (e.g. blood, genes) as tropes of belonging and identification should not necessarily or automatically be seen as essentialist (or needing justification in terms of their ‘strategic essentialism’), exclusivist, politically conservative, absolutist or fundamentalist…

…An illustration of the kinship assumptions that underlie thinking about processes of mixture is furnished by the recent literature on mixed-race identities in the USA. Root argues that mixed-race people ‘expose the irrationality by which the [racial] categories have been derived and enforced’ (Root 1996a, p. xxv). This idea that the US system of racial reckoning is irrational is supported by Spickard who describes the ‘illogic’ of American racial categories. Part of his argument is that all racial categorizations are illogical because they do not accord with the facts of biology—which, as he recognizes, only makes the categories illogical if they pretend to be based on biology. But ‘what is most illogical is that [in the USA] we imagine these racial categories to be exclusive’ (Spickard 1992, p. 20). For example, one could only—until 1997—check one census box for racial identity and this census practice broadly reflected social usage. To take the most common example, it is illogical to have to be either black or white, when so many people are black-white mixes. The US ‘one-drop rule’ that classifies anyone with ‘one drop of black blood’ as black is the mainstay of the either/or system—a system arguably now losing its dualist rigidity (Root 1996b, Azoulay 1997). This rule determines that ‘a white woman can give birth to a Black child, but a Black woman can never give birth to a white child’ (Nash 1995, p. 950, citing Barbara J. Fields). In one brutal sense, this system is highly logical: it defines a clear rule and follows it to a logical conclusion. In what sense, then, is it illogical, except insofar as any racial categorization is illogical? The intuition that the US system is illogical comes, I believe, from a sense of the ‘logic’ of a Western cognatic kinship model that assumes that a child gets equal amounts of its constitution from both parents. This does not necessarily mean people think a child born to a ‘black’ parent and a ‘white’ parent is literally physically half black and half white—although this mode of thought may, indeed, be widespread, in view of the fact that people routinely talk of having, say, black or white ‘blood’ in their veins, or of being, say, a quarter West Indian or half Scottish. Whether or not the kinship logic is understood in physical terms, it can also simply supply a way of thinking about the allegiances and ties that such a child would have ‘logically’ (i.e. ‘naturally’ by the precepts of Western kinship reckoning). It is against the background of this assumption that the US system appears illogical…

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Becoming Modern Racialized Subjects: Detours through our pasts to produce ourselves anew

Posted in Articles, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2010-05-12 00:28Z by Steven

Becoming Modern Racialized Subjects: Detours through our pasts to produce ourselves anew

Cultural Studies
Volume 23, Number 4 (July 2009)
pages 624-657
DOI: 10.1080/09502380902950948

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies
Yale University

This essay is a close engagement with the work of Stuart Hall which has been central to the project of unraveling the complexities of difference, divisions in history, consciousness and humanity, embedded in the geo-political oppositions of colonial center and colonized margin, home and abroad, and metropole and periphery. Hall has exposed the temporal enigma that haunts the relation between colonial and post-colonial subject formation. In response, the essay focuses on the geo-politics rather than the linear temporality of encounters in an examination of the sources of tension, contention and anxiety that arise as racialized subjects are brought into being through narration in examples drawn from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano and post-colonial Caribbean novelists. The essay concludes by positing an alternative narrative for the emergence of the modern racialized state in Britain, one that has its origins in official responses to the presence of black American troops and West Indian civilian and Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel on British soil during World War II, rather than to the Caribbean migrants who arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948.

…It was not only black subjects that were policed and disciplined. Black servicemen were dialogically constituted in their blackness in and through their potential and actual encounters with white women who were also to be ‘managed’. Reynolds records the ‘intensive efforts [that] were made to guide the conduct of British women’. For women who were in the armed service ‘military discipline was invoked’ to discourage them from fraternizing with black soldiers and by January 1944 these policies hardened when ‘the Women’s Territorial Auxillary issued an order ‘‘forbidding its members to speak to colored American soldiers except in the presence of a white [person]’’’. These systems of surveillance were not only instituted and regulated by the military they were also enabled and maintained by members of local constabularies who ‘routinely reported women soldiers found in the company of black GIs to their superiors.’ Even civilian women were prosecuted by their local police who evoked ‘a variety of laws’ to take them into custody when they were found ‘in company of black soldiers’ (Reynolds 1996, p. 229).

White women were counseled by families, friends and authorities alike, against marriage with black men; black American soldiers who wished to marry British women were refused permission to do so by their Commanding Officers and quickly transferred. Black journalist Ormus Davenport, ‘himself a wartime GI, claimed that there had been a ‘‘gentleman’s agreement’’ to prevent mixed marriages’. But ‘in the 8th Air Force Service Command where most of the American Air Force blacks were concentrated, a total ban on such marriages was quite explicit’ (Reynolds 1996, p. 231). The result was disastrous for their offspring…

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