Uncompromising Activist: Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-09-06 02:22Z by Steven

Uncompromising Activist: Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College

Johns Hopkins University Press
September 2017
216 pages
7 b&w photos
Hardback ISBN: 9781421423296
E-book ISBN: 9781421423302

Katherine Reynolds Chaddock, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Education
University of South Carolina

Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. In 1870, he was the first black graduate of Harvard College. During Reconstruction, he was the first black faculty member at a southern white college, the University of South Carolina. He was even the first black US diplomat to a white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for racial equality, he also served as a dean of the Howard University School of Law and as the administrative head of the Ulysses S. Grant Monument Association. Yet he died in obscurity, his name barely remembered.

His black friends and colleagues often looked askance at the light-skinned Greener’s ease among whites and sometimes wrongfully accused him of trying to “pass.” While he was overseas on a diplomatic mission, Greener’s wife and five children stayed in New York City, changed their names, and vanished into white society. Greener never saw them again. At a time when Americans viewed themselves simply as either white or not, Greener lost not only his family but also his sense of clarity about race.

Richard Greener’s story demonstrates the human realities of racial politics throughout the fight for abolition, the struggle for equal rights, and the backslide into legal segregation. Katherine Reynolds Chaddock has written a long overdue narrative biography about a man, fascinating in his own right, who also exemplified America’s discomfiting perspectives on race and skin color. Uncompromising Activist is a lively tale that will interest anyone curious about the human elements of the equal rights struggle.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: A Search for Identity
  • 1. Boyhood Interrupted
  • 2. Being Prepared
  • 3. Experiment at Harvard
  • 4. An Accidental Academic
  • 5. Professing in a Small and Angry Place
  • 6. The Brutal Retreat
  • 7. Unsettled Advocate
  • 8. A Violent Attack and Hopeless Case
  • 9. Monumental Plans
  • 10. Off White
  • 11. Our Man in Vladivostok
  • 12. Closure in Black and White
  • Epilogue: The Passing of Richard Greener
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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The Mysteries of New Orleans

Posted in Books, Louisiana, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2016-06-08 21:47Z by Steven

The Mysteries of New Orleans

Johns Hopkins University Press
June 2002
600 pages
3 halftones
Paperback ISBN: 9780801868825

Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein (1826-1885)

translated and edited by:

Steven Rowan, Professor of History
University of Missouri, St. Louis

“Reizenstein’s peculiar vision of New Orleans is worth resurrecting precisely because it crossed the boundaries of acceptable taste in nineteenth-century German America and squatted firmly on the other side… This work makes us realize how limited our notions were of what could be conceived by a fertile American imagination in the middle of the nineteenth century.”—from the Introduction by Steven Rowan

A lost classic of America’s neglected German-language literary tradition, The Mysteries of New Orleans by Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein first appeared as a serial in the Louisiana Staats-Zeitung, a New Orleans German-language newspaper, between 1854 and 1855. Inspired by the gothic “urban mysteries” serialized in France and Germany during this period, Reizenstein crafted a daring occult novel that stages a frontal assault on the ethos of the antebellum South. His plot imagines the coming of a bloody, retributive justice at the hands of Hiram the Freemason—a nightmarish, 200-year-old, proto-Nietzschean superman—for the sin of slavery. Heralded by the birth of a black messiah, the son of a mulatto prostitute and a decadent German aristocrat, this coming revolution is depicted in frankly apocalyptic terms.

Yet, Reizenstein was equally concerned with setting and characters, from the mundane to the fantastic. The book is saturated with the atmosphere of nineteenth-century New Orleans, the amorous exploits of its main characters uncannily resembling those of New Orleans’ leading citizens. Also of note is the author’s progressively matter-of-fact portrait of the lesbian romance between his novel’s only sympathetic characters, Claudine and Orleana. This edition marks the first time that The Mysteries of New Orleans has been translated into English and proves that 150 years later, this vast, strange, and important novel remains as compelling as ever.

Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein (1826-1885) was born in Bavaria and emigrated to America in 1848. By 1851 he had established himself as a civil engineer, architect, journalist, amateur naturalist, and publisher in New Orleans, where he lived until his death.

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New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom

Posted in Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2014-01-29 15:04Z by Steven

New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom

Johns Hopkins University Press
344 pages
Hardback ISBN: 0801894344, 9780801894343

Justin A. Nystrom, Assistant Professor of History
Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana

We often think of Reconstruction as an unfinished revolution. Justin A. Nystrom’s original study of the aftermath of emancipation in New Orleans takes a different perspective, arguing that the politics of the era were less of a binary struggle over political supremacy and morality than they were about a quest for stability in a world rendered uncertain and unfamiliar by the collapse of slavery.

Commercially vibrant and racially unique before the Civil War, New Orleans after secession and following Appomattox provides an especially interesting case study in political and social adjustment. Taking a generational view and using longitudinal studies of some of the major political players of the era, Nystrom asks fundamentally new questions about life in the post–Civil War South: Who would emerge as leaders in the prostrate but economically ambitious city? How would whites who differed over secession come together over postwar policy? Where would the mixed-race middle class and newly freed slaves fit in the new order? Nystrom follows not only the period’s broad contours and occasional bloody conflicts but also the coalition building and the often surprising liaisons that formed to address these and related issues. His unusual approach breaks free from the worn stereotypes of Reconstruction to explore the uncertainty, self-doubt, and moral complexity that haunted Southerners after the war.

This probing look at a generation of New Orleanians and how they redefined a society shattered by the Civil War engages historical actors on their own terms and makes real the human dimension of life during this difficult period in American history.

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Race: The History of an Idea in the West

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy on 2013-04-15 00:43Z by Steven

Race: The History of an Idea in the West

Johns Hopkins University Press
May 1996
464 pages
Paperback (on-demand) ISBN: 9780801852237

Ivan Hannaford

In Race: The History of an Idea in the West Ivan Hannaford guides readers through a dangerous engagement with an idea that so permeates Western thinking that we expect to find it, active or dormant, as an organizing principle in all societies. But, Hannaford shows, race is not a universal idea—not even in the West. It is an idea with a definite pedigree, and Hannaford traces that confused pedigree from Hesiod to the Holocaust and beyond.

Hannaford begins by examining the ideas of race supposedly held in the ancient world, contrasting them with the complex social, philosophical, political, and scientific ideas actually held at the time. Through the medieval, Renaissance, and early modern periods he critically examines precursors in history, science, and philosophy. Hannaford distinguishes those cultures’ ideas of social inclusion, rank, and role from modern ones based on race. But he also finds the first traces of the modern ideas of race in the proto-sciences of late medieval cabalism and hermeticism. Following that trail forward, he describes the establishment of the modern scientific and philosophical notions of race in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and shows how those notions became popular and pervasive, even among those who claim to be nonracist.

At the same time, Hannaford sets out an alternative to a race-based notion of humanity. In his examination of ancient Greece, he finds in what was then a dazzling new idea, politics, a theory of how to bring a purposeful oneness to a society composed of diverse families, tribes, and interests. This idea of politics has a history, too, and its presence has waxed and waned through the ages.

At a time when new controversies have again raised the question of whether race and social destiny are ineluctably joined as partners, Race: The History of an Idea in the West reveals that one of the partners is a phantom—medieval astrology and physiognomy disguised by pseudoscientific thought. And Race raises a difficult practical question: What price do we place on our political traditions, institutions, and civic arrangements? This ambitious volume reexamines old questions in new ways that will stimulate a wide readership.

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Race, Sex, and Social Order in Early New Orleans

Posted in Books, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2012-01-30 01:15Z by Steven

Race, Sex, and Social Order in Early New Orleans

Johns Hopkins University Press
352 pages
7 halftones
Hardback ISBN: 9780801886805

Jennifer M. Spear, Associate Professor of History
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Winner, 2009 Kemper and Leila Williams Prize in Lousiana History, The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Louisiana Historical Association

A microcosm of exaggerated societal extremes—poverty and wealth, vice and virtue, elitism and equality—New Orleans is a tangled web of race, cultural mores, and sexual identities. Jennifer Spear’s examination of the dialectical relationship between politics and social practice unravels the city’s construction of race during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Spear brings together archival evidence from three different languages and the most recent and respected scholarship on racial formation and interracial sex to explain why free people of color became a significant population in the early days of New Orleans and to show how authorities attempted to use concepts of race and social hierarchy to impose order on a decidedly disorderly society. She recounts and analyzes the major conflicts that influenced New Orleanian culture: legal attempts to impose racial barriers and social order, political battles over propriety and freedom, and cultural clashes over place and progress. At each turn, Spear’s narrative challenges the prevailing academic assumptions and supports her efforts to move exploration of racial formation away from cultural and political discourses and toward social histories.

Strikingly argued, richly researched, and methodologically sound, this wide-ranging look at how choices about sex triumphed over established class systems and artificial racial boundaries supplies a refreshing contribution to the history of early Louisiana.

Table of Contents

  • Ackowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. Indian Women, French Women, and the Regulation of Sex
  • 2. Legislating Slavery in French New Orleans
  • 3. Affranchis and Sang-Mêlé
  • 4. Slavery and Freedom in Spanish New Orleans
  • 5. Limpieza de Sangre and Family Formation
  • 6. Negotiating Racial Identities in the 1790s
  • 7. Codification of a Tripartite Racial System in Anglo-Louisiana
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Essay on Sources
  • Index
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Tribe, Race, History: Native Americans in Southern New England, 1780–1880

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2011-11-08 00:52Z by Steven

Tribe, Race, History: Native Americans in Southern New England, 1780–1880

Johns Hopkins University Press
344 pages
11 halftones, 2 line drawings
Hardback ISBN: 9780801886942; Paperback ISBN: 9780801898198

Daniel R. Mandell, Professor of History
Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri

  • Winner, 2008 Lawrence W. Levine Award, Organization of American Historians

Tribe, Race, History examines American Indian communities in southern New England between the Revolution and Reconstruction, when Indians lived in the region’s socioeconomic margins, moved between semiautonomous communities and towns, and intermarried extensively with blacks and whites.

Drawing from a wealth of primary documentation, Daniel R. Mandell centers his study on ethnic boundaries, particularly how those boundaries were constructed, perceived, and crossed. He analyzes connections and distinctions between Indians and their non-Indian neighbors with regard to labor, landholding, government, and religion; examines how emerging romantic depictions of Indians (living and dead) helped shape a unique New England identity; and looks closely at the causes and results of tribal termination in the region after the Civil War.

Shedding new light on regional developments in class, race, and culture, this groundbreaking study is the first to consider all Native Americans throughout southern New England.

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Blackness and Race Mixture: The Dynamics of Racial Identity in Colombia

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Social Science on 2011-04-27 23:42Z by Steven

Blackness and Race Mixture: The Dynamics of Racial Identity in Colombia

Johns Hopkins University Press
432 pages
ISBN-10: 9780801852510; ISBN-13: 978-0801852510

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Drawing on extensive anthropological fieldwork, Peter Wade shows how the concept of “blackness” and discrimination are deeply embedded in different social levels and contexts—from region to neighborhood, and from politics and economics to housing, marriage, music, and personal identity.

Table of Contents

  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • I. Introduction
    • 1. The Racial Order and National Identity
    • 2. The Study of Indians and Blacks in the Racial Order
  • II. Cultural Topography
    • 3. A Sense of Place: The Geography of Culture in Colombia
    • 4. Antioquia
    • 5. The Atlantic Coast
    • 6. The Chocó: Rain, Misery, and Blackness
    • 7. Heroes and Politics: Quibdó since 1900
    • 8. The Chocó: Poverty and Riches
  • III. Chogoanos on the Frontier and the City
    • 9. Unguía: History and Economy
    • 10. Unguía: Ethnic Relations
    • 11. Medellín: Working in the City
    • 12. Medellín: Living in the City
  • IV. Blackness and Mixedness
    • 13. Images of Blackness: The View from Above
    • 14. Images of Blackness: The View from Below
    • 15. The Black Community and Music
    • 16. Whitening
    • 17. Prestige and Equality, Egotism and Envy
  • Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • Appendix A: Tables
  • Appendix B: Figures
  • Appendix C: Transcripts of Responses by Chocóanos to Questions about Medellín
  • References


  • A suburb of Quibdó
  • A street band in Quibdó
  • A woman mining by hand in the Chocó
  • A mechanical gold dredger in the Chocó
  • A main street in Unguía
  • The central square of Medellín
  • La Iguana, an invasion settlement in Medellín
  • El Salon Suizo, a bar in central Medellín


  • Colombia
  • Colombia: Northern region
  • Colombia: Northwestern region


The study of blacks in Colombia, despite the seminal efforts of a few dedicated researchers, is neglected relative to the ethnohistorical and anthropological study of the indian populations. The idea of a “racial democracy” in Colombia is still pervasive, and despite refutations of this myth from academic and popular circles alike, some people of all colors and classes can still be heard to avow the insignificance of race as an issue, especially as far as blacks are concerned.

The reasons for this have, in my view, to do with the complex interweaving of patterns of both discrimination and tolerance, of both blackness or indianness and mestizaje, or race mixture. This interweaving takes place within a project, managed mainly by elites, of nationhood and national identity which holds up an image of Colombia as essentially a mestizo or mixed nation. Blacks and indians can, therefore, although in different ways, be both excluded as nonmestizo and included as potential recruits to mixedncss. Such a racial order, I believe, is not characteristic of Colombia alone, but has echoes in many regions of Latin America. In this book, I examine the coexisting and interdependent dynamics of mestizaje and discrimination in a variety of contexts, at different levels of resolution and in distinct realms of social action.

To talk about “blacks,” “indians,” and “race” in Latin America, or indeed anywhere else, is in itself problematic. It is generally accepted that “races” arc social constructions, categorical identifications based on a discourse about physical appearance or ancestry. This is not a universalizing definition good for all places and times because what is to count as relevant “physical difference” or relevant “ancestry” is far from self-evident. There is apparently the “natural fact” of phenotypical variation from which culture constructs categorical identifications according to social determinations, but positing a nature/culture relation mediated by this “productionist logic” (Haraway 1989, 13) obscures the fact that there is no prediscursive, universal encounter with “nature” or therefore with phenotypical variation. These have always been perceived and understood historically in different ways, through certain lenses, especially those ground in the colonial encounters that have privileged the phenotypical differences characteristic of continental space, rather than those characteristic of, say, “short” and “tall” people. As such, racial categories arc processual in two ways: first, as a result of the changing perceptions of the nature/culture divide that they themselves mediate; second, as a result of the interplay of both claims to and ascriptions of identity, usually made in the context of unequal power relations. The second process is of particular significance in the Latin American context because one feature of a racial order based on race mixture is ambiguity about who is and who is not “black” or “indian.” In the United States, South Africa, and many European countries, although ambiguities do exist, there is more general agreement between claims and ascriptions, and thus more clearly defined categorical boundaries to races, than in Latin American countries such as Colombia. There, the boundaries of the category “black” or “indian” are much disputed and ambiguous, even while clear images of a “typical” black or indian person exist for everyone, including “blacks” and “indians.” In this book, although I will not always enclose the terms “black,” “indian,” or “race” in quotation marks, it should be understood that if by their very nature they are not self-evident categories, this is especially so in the Latin American context.

Ambiguity about blackness or indianness does not, however, mean the insignificance of blacks or indians, or more exactly, of people for whom blackness and indianness is an important aspect of personal and social identity. In this book, my concern is with blackness, and I focus on a region of Colombia, the Chocó province of the lowland Pacific littoral, where this is particularly evident. There, blacks form about 80 or 90 percent of the population, and blackness has been and still is a critical feature of regional history and identity. I look at the region’s inhabitants, the Chocoanos, in the heart of this province and also in the two sites of my field work: one right in the north of the Chocó, in an area heavily influenced by nonblacks; the other, beyond the Chocó, in the city of Medellín. My aim is to examine the coexistence and codependence of blackness and nonblackness, of discrimination and race mixture in these regional contexts. My contention is that the Chocoano material illuminates the more general nature of the Colombian racial order and Colombian national identity. By the same token, the Colombian material sheds light on other Latin American nations in which discrimination and mestizaje also coexist and in which projects of national identity have also had to deal, albeit in different ways, with a past and a present of racial heterogeneity.

Blacks are present and blackness is an issue in other areas of Colombia besides the Choco: the whole southern Pacific littoral is, if anything, blacker than the Chocó; the areas around Cali and Cartago have significant black populations; the Caribbean coastal region has concentrations of blacks in various areas, and more generally has a heavily negroid population; there are pockets of blacks, often migrants, in most cities, including Bogota. I do not pretend to cover all these different contexts, some of which have already been studied (see, for example, the works by Whitten, Friedemann, and Taussig listed in the References), but I do introduce two other Colombian regions into the picture, although neither is my principal focus. One is Antioquia, the other the Caribbean coastal region, both neighbors of the Chocó. Their presence in the book has two purposes. One is mainly from the central Chocó, Antioquia, and the Caribbean region; my second was in Medellín, provincial capital of Antioquia. Some knowledge of these other two regions is thus clearly indispensable in order to comprehend the ethnic interaction between their people and the Chocoanos. The second purpose is more strategic. My aim in this book is to examine the interplay of discrimination and mestizaje. My main focus is on the Chocoanos. But this interplay had very different outcomes in different regions, according to local conjunctures of political economy and demography, and Antioquia and the Caribbean coast form perfect counterpoints to the Chocó in this respect, with the Caribbean coast intermediate between the evidently black Chocó and heavily “whitened” Antioquia. In short, if the national racial order of Colombia is based on the contradictory but interdependent coexistence of blackness, indianness, mixedncss, and whiteness, then it makes sense to examine other regions where these elements and conceptual categories worked themselves out in different ways. The first chapters therefore explore these two regions before turning to concentrate on the Choco itselfc In the rest of this introduction, I elaborate the themes ot blackness, indianness, race, and the nation…

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Mixing Races: From Scientific Racism to Modern Evolutionary Ideas

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Campus Life, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2011-01-02 19:18Z by Steven

Mixing Races: From Scientific Racism to Modern Evolutionary Ideas

Johns Hopkins University Press
December 2010
136 pages
14 halftones
Hardback ISBN: 9780801898129
Paperback ISBN: 9780801898136

Paul Lawrence Farber, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Modern Life Sciences, Intellectual History
Oregon State University

This book explores changing American views of race mixing in the twentieth century, showing how new scientific ideas transformed accepted notions of race and how those ideas played out on college campuses in the 1960s.

In the 1930s it was not unusual for medical experts to caution against miscegenation, or race mixing, espousing the common opinion that it would produce biologically dysfunctional offspring. By the 1960s the scientific community roundly refuted this theory. Paul Lawrence Farber traces this revolutionary shift in scientific thought, explaining how developments in modern population biology, genetics, and anthropology proved that opposition to race mixing was a social prejudice with no justification in scientific knowledge.

In the 1960s, this new knowledge helped to change attitudes toward race and discrimination, especially among college students. Their embrace of social integration caused tension on campuses across the country. Students rebelled against administrative interference in their private lives, and university regulations against interracial dating became a flashpoint in the campus revolts that revolutionized American educational institutions.

Farber’s provocative study is a personal one, featuring interviews with mixed-race couples and stories from the author’s student years at the University of Pittsburgh. As such, Mixing Races offers a unique perspective on how contentious debates taking place on college campuses reflected radical shifts in race relations in the larger society.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1. A Mixed-Race Couple in the 1960
  • 2. Scientific Ideas on Race Mixing
  • 3. Challenges to Opinions on race Mixing
  • 4. The Modern Synthesis
  • 5. The Modern Synthesis Meets Physical Anthropology and Legal Opinion
  • 6. University Campuses in the 1960s
  • 7. Science, “Race,” and “Race Mixing” Today
  • Epilogue
  • Suggested Further Reading
  • Index
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The Cosmic Race / La Raza Cósmica

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2010-02-08 01:12Z by Steven

The Cosmic Race / La Raza Cósmica

Johns Hopkins University Press
1997 (originally published in 1925)
160 pages
Paperback: 9780801856556

José Vasconcelos
translated, with an introduction, by Didier T. Jaén
afterword by Joseba Gabilondo

“The days of the pure whites, the victors of today, are as numbered as were the days of their predecessors. Having fulfilled their destiny of mechanizing the world, they themselves have set, without knowing it, the basis for the new period: The period of the fusion and the mixing of all peoples.” — from The Cosmic Race

In this influential 1925 essay, presented here in Spanish and English, José Vasconcelos predicted the coming of a new age, the Aesthetic Era, in which joy, love, fantasy, and creativity would prevail over the rationalism he saw as dominating the present age. In this new age, marriages would no longer be dictated by necessity or convenience, but by love and beauty; ethnic obstacles, already in the process of being broken down, especially in Latin America, would disappear altogether, giving birth to a fully mixed race, a “cosmic race,” in which all the better qualities of each race would persist by the natural selection of love.

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Race Mixing: Southern Fiction since the Sixties

Posted in Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2009-10-23 18:23Z by Steven

Race Mixing: Southern Fiction since the Sixties

Johns Hopkins University Press
360 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9780801873935
Paperback ISBN: 9780801883934

Suzanne W. Jones, Professor of English; Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities
University of Richmond

In the southern United States, there remains a deep need among both black and white writers to examine the topic of race relations, whether they grew up during segregation or belong to the younger generation that graduated from integrated schools. In Race Mixing, Suzanne Jones offers insightful and provocative readings of contemporary novels, the work of a wide range of writers—black and white, established and emerging. Their stories explore the possibilities of cross-racial friendships, examine the repressed history of interracial love, reimagine the Civil Rights era through children’s eyes, herald the reemergence of the racially mixed character, investigate acts of racial violence, and interrogate both rural and urban racial dynamics.

Employing a dynamic model of the relationship between text and context, Jones shows how more than thirty relevant writers — including Madison Smartt Bell, Larry Brown, Bebe Moore Campbell, Thulani Davis, Ellen Douglas, Ernest Gaines, Josephine Humphreys, Randall Kenan, Reynolds Price, Alice Walker, and Tom Wolfe — illuminate the complexities of the color line and the problems in defining racial identity today. While an earlier generation of black and white southern writers challenged the mythic unity of southern communities in order to lay bare racial divisions, Jones finds in the novels of contemporary writers a challenge to the mythic sameness within racial communities—and a broader definition of community and identity.

Closely reading these stories about race in America, Race Mixing ultimately points to new ways of thinking about race relations. “We need these fictions,” Jones writes, “to help us imagine our way out of the social structures and mind-sets that mythologize the past, fragment individuals, prejudge people, and divide communities.”

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