Kaneesha Parsard on (1)ne Drop and the Multiplicity of Blackness

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, United States on 2014-05-27 14:47Z by Steven

Kaneesha Parsard on (1)ne Drop and the Multiplicity of Blackness

Climbing Vines: A Collection of Short Stories

Janday Wilson

When you think of blackness what do you see? Dr. Yaba Blay’s multiplatform project (1)ne Drop and book (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race complicate the answers to that question. In the book, visually stunning portraits and candid personal testimonies, presented along with historical conceptions of race, challenge the rigid notion of what blackness is.

Kaneesha Parsard (Penn ’11) was one of (1)ne Drop’s incredibly forthcoming contributors whose profile shed light on her mixed African and East Indian heritage and the privileges and challenges that are tied to her physical appearance – but her interest in race extends beyond her participation in this project. Currently a doctoral student in the combined program in American Studies and African American Studies (and doing a qualification in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies) at Yale University, her research examines the literary and artistic representations of the late 19th century and early 20th century colonial British West Indies and the ways in which the descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured Indians shared spaces and frustrated the colonial management of bodies, dwellings, and reproduction. And by the time you read this, she will have already submitted the prospectus for her dissertation, “Improper Dwelling: The Yard, The House, Sexuality and Colonial Modernity, 1838-1962.”

Read Climbing Vines’ conversation with Kaneesha to learn about her experience with (1)ne Drop, her thoughts on black beauty and self-image and to find out her plans for the future.

How did you get involved with (1)ne Drop?

I did the interview in the summer of 2011 … after I graduated from Penn. Yaba Blay, [Co-Director of] Africana Studies at Drexel – who got her PhD from Temple [University] in African American Studies – got in contact with me, I believe through Salamishah Tillet [Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania], who is one of my very close mentors. I think Salamishah recommended me for the book. She came to my house and that’s where we did the interview. And then we followed it up a couple weeks later with a photo shoot in downtown Brooklyn. It was really beautiful to see the ways that Yaba and her partner in the project, Noelle Théard, who is a photographer, sought to visualize the themes I was talking about in my interview with different settings and colors…

Read the entire interview here.

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Two Minds, One Heart

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2012-02-08 00:04Z by Steven

Two Minds, One Heart

SAS Fronties: Research and Scholarship in the School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania
February 2011

Blake Cole

Undergraduate Kaneesha Parsard delves into the storied history of indentured Indian labor in the Caribbean.

“Growing up I never thought much about it, except for the fact that in addition to curry chicken, I also had an affinity for jerk chicken,” Parsard laughs. “As I developed my coursework at Penn and took African and Asian Diaspora classes, I became interested in continuing to explore the legacy of African slavery and Indian indenture in the Caribbean, and what it meant to occupy both of these boundaries.”
An English and Africana Studies major and undergraduate member of the Penn Humanities Forum, Parsard first learned of the Forum through peers in her Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. Having recently found relatives on Facebook she had never met, all bearing her surname, she applied her experience to the Virtuality-themed 2011 Forum in hopes of negotiating her own virtual identity. Additionally, she is interested in the ways in which Caribbean populations imagine homeland(s).
Parsard’s research is most concerned with Trinidad and Tobago, a southern Caribbean state where the Indian population is near equal to the African population. Slavery in the Caribbean ended in the 1840s, the result of long-standing pressure leftover from the Haitian Revolution in the late 18th century. The emancipation of the slaves opened a hole in the labor force, which led to the influx of Indian workers.
“The black-white racial dynamic was interrupted by the entrance of the Indian indentured population. Free black laborers saw the indentures as beneath them, because they didn’t have their freedom, but at the same time the indentured Indians often looked down on the blacks because they had once been enslaved. There was violence at times, and feelings of superiority among the different groups left a long-lasting legacy of tension.”
The initial waves of Indian immigrants were almost all men. Over time they began pairing themselves with African women. As a result, many Indian men who had expected to leave the Caribbean once their indenture ended became rooted there by new partners and, sometimes, mixed-race children.
The mixed-race children of these unions are historically referred to as dougla, a term that evolved from a Hindi term that refers to inter-caste marriage. In Trinidad and Tobago there is an ongoing debate about douglarization: Africans in the region are largely seen as “growers” of culture, Parsard explains, while Indians are seen as falling victim to deculturization…
Read the entire article here.

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