Samera Esmeir, Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History

Cover of Juridical Humanity by Samera Esmeir

Stanford University Press (2012)

From the Publisher:

In colonial Egypt, the state introduced legal reforms that claimed to liberate Egyptians from the inhumanity of pre-colonial rule and elevate them to the status of human beings. These legal reforms intersected with a new historical consciousness that distinguished freedom from force and the human from the pre-human, endowing modern law with the power to accomplish but never truly secure this transition.

Samera Esmeir offers a historical and theoretical account of the colonizing operations of modern law in Egypt. Investigating the law, both on the books and in practice, she underscores the centrality of the “human” to Egyptian legal and colonial history and argues that the production of “juridical humanity” was a constitutive force of colonial rule and subjugation. This original contribution queries long-held assumptions about the entanglement of law, humanity, violence, and nature, and thereby develops a new reading of the history of colonialism.


De facto Religiosity, Transcending Borders, and Performing Diversity

by Robin Sacolick, UC Santa Cruz

They say it’s the journey, and to some extent, that is true of working on a dissertation. An academic department may or may not find a candidate’s topic interesting. However, when the candidate’s research involves interacting with people, other interested parties emerge. My work, which inquires into the Bay Area community who practice the traditional Mexican genre of music, song and dance called son jarocho, involves participation in performing, activism and group rituals. As I come to be personally involved, some of those subjected to my myopic researchers’ lens also come to be invested in the project. They care about accuracy in how they are portrayed, because they know the value of their activities. Other consumers of academic research may be found at conferences, of course, as well as within the more rare interdisciplinary studio, such as this one on Humanitarianism and Ethics. As an intercampus set of students and faculty representing multiple disciplines, our individual research topics vary greatly, at least on the surface. However, just a little deeper are shared concerns and common themes. The Studio has lent holographic dimension to my work by reflecting new facets of de facto religiosity, transcending borders, and performing diversity in son jarocho practice.

De Facto Religiosity. The genre comprises practices that involve regularly coming together (called convivencia in son jarocho parlance), group activities, humanitarian efforts, rituals called fandangos, and an ethic of respect for tradition. Yet they eschew dogmatism. Thus son jarocho praxis embodies a de facto religiosity without being religious. This becomes easier to recognize in light of the other Studio members’ projects. It is unexpectedly reflected in a colleague’s observance of victims of the Spanish Civil War who return over and again to witness exhumation of mass graves. Son jarocho participants’ humanitarian outreach efforts to support inner city neighborhood gardens, migrant workers, and children’s arts, reflect the community architectural projects studied by another Studio member. The immense cool projected by fandango dancers as they transcend suboptimal social conditions resembles some practices of gospel performers based in colonial resistance, studied by yet another member. Finally, a participating scholar’s study of the uptake of Tibetan Buddhist practices by groups of Native Americans reflects preservation of deep understandings of the order of things, as numerous son jarocho practitioners seek to do. Similarly, the two themes discussed below–transcendence of borders and performativity–evince aspects of de facto religiosity.

Transcending Borders. Son jarocho community practices have served to bridge borders within my ethnically and generationally mixed family, as well as between my family, larger Latin communities, and community artists of many ethnicities, generations, gender preferences, and national backgrounds. Other son jarocho practitioners speak of having had similar experiences. Border transcendence imbues the Studio format, which disregards the usual boundaries between disciplines–boundaries that may be construed, ultimately, to be artificial constructs in the way that Benedict Andersen explains national borders. Even more than the outside-the-box format, the actual content gleaned from other disciplines has enriched my musicological process. For example, it has been rewarding to work with a professor of Feminist Studies. The women of the son jarocho community generate a nexus of inquiry in my project, as they contribute much work, dedication and talent that help the community to cohere, even as they transcend historical borders separating gender roles. Related phenomena may be viewed in feminist terms, as well.

For instance, several issues surround a dynamic, within the community, of commoditization of son jarocho works by professional musicians, versus maintenance of ethical relations with the traditional practices. This might be interpreted epistemologically as capitalist-modernist versus traditionalist, or as worldly versus spiritual. A gendered analogy, though, reveals additional information. If making money as a musician is labeled as capitalist commodity fetishism, then it might be discarded (or embraced) according to the economic ideals of whoever considers the issue. However, by employing a gendered analogy, other possible interpretations emerge. If money-making with son jarocho is analogous to an individualistic, competitive ‘male’ muse (which women may equally ply) while non-profit participation in community fandangos, activism and humanitarian initiatives represent a nurturing, collective-good-driven ‘feminized’ impulse, then each exerts a significant role in both the community and the artistic expression. One might argue, of course, that the former muse is the feminized and the latter impulse the masculine, or bring in additional genders to deal with paradoxes; the point is that multiple gender approaches exist and coexist within broader society while economic systems are often sanctified or vilified as mutually exclusive and exclusively desirable. So by gendering contrasting muses in the son jarocho community, the benefits of each may be recognized.


Making ones own instrument is meditative. These Bay Area residents traveled to Veracruz to make theirs.

A related ethical problematic, which is acutely scrutinized within the discipline of cultural musicology, arises when considering the commoditization of son jarocho: cultural appropriation. This concept has been defined in different ways, but it is important to many. If compositions that are ancient, traditional, and public domain are performed for profit, are there certain people who have a greater right to do so? Are they the natives of the region that originally produced the works, or the most senior in a local scene? Are they the most accomplished musical technicians? Are they Latino? Are they male? There are potentially as many different perspectives on this as there are participants within the community. The bottom line is that at times, despite best intentions, border transcendence also amounts to transgression. The analogy to third wave feminist theory is easy to imagine.

Nevertheless, older-wave feminist themes apply as well. Focus on individual women as leaders and organizers in the son jarocho community is difficult to avoid, as their efforts are indeed critical, standing out because they transcend historical gender role boundaries. Even more difficult, however, is to tease out the motivations and history surrounding this shift; for these women continue to coexist–to convivir–and to learn profoundly from seminal community members who grew up when different notions of proper gender behaviors in traditional son inhered. My intervention proposes that the need for community within the prevailing political and social climate has catalyzed such participation, and, to some extent, a feminized muse; and that the analogy between the fandango tradition and de facto religiosity provides infrastructure for this muse.


Fandango participants’ faces reflect meditative and euphoric states.

Performativity. A third theme in my work that has been exercised through participation in the Studio is son jarocho and fandango as performances of both diversity and life.

“Performing life” refers, in one way, to improvisational interchanges of lyrics and licks between artists in all kinds of performances. These interchanges mimic life processes. In the fandango, moreover, life is performed more directly, as genuine community issues emerge and resolve. For example, participants sometimes confront disillusionments when beautiful and transcendent experiences of community emerge from a background that is ultimately, inexorably, mundane and human. Egos may struggle with any variety of issues from inconvenient flirtations, to newcomers failing to conform to basic courtesies, to longtime participants going through life’s hurdles. The longer contour of fandango, as a regular ritual community practice of music and dance, provides a non-verbal forum to process such issues without direct manipulation of them. When one comes to see ones work through the eyes of others in an interdisciplinary studio environment, a similar kind of processing takes place.

“Performing diversity” signifies, among other things, the awareness among most son jarocho participants that the genre was created by the jarocho people of Veracruz, who were born of more than three constituent ethnicities (Mesoamerican, African and Spanish) hundreds of years ago. Consistent with the pan-ethnic diversity of the Bay, today’s participants comprise many ethnicities. Moreover, as noted above, practice of the genre today in the Bay Area involves a diversity of gender roles that, even thirty years ago, would have been unusual. For some, the community and its practices yield spaces in which issues surrounding complex identity definition may be, at least partially, resolved. Non-traditional or multi-ethnic families may find means of solidarity through involvement with son jarocho activities. More aspects of performing diversity include interplays of adherence to jarocho norms and flouting them; and of performing birth ethnicities and forming communitas with those of different origins. Identity formation and acceptance into the community unfolds through an informal sequence of learning the norms, practicing repertoire and sharing life experiences, much as takes place (at a vastly accelerated pace) in an interdisciplinary studio.


Impromptu fandango in San Francisco to support collecting clothing for child refugees.

These themes and others are expanded through ethnographic documentation of the community members’ experiences in my dissertation, which is nearing completion. With gratitude, I encourage others to find inter- and extra-disciplinary avenues such as the Studio through which to share their academic work. Genuine dimensions of perspective may accrue, while new sets of individuals receive the opportunity to benefit from specialized research they would not otherwise encounter.


Humanitarian Violence: The U.S. Deployment of Diversity

By Neda Atanasoski

Neda Cover

When is a war not a war? When it is undertaken in the name of democracy, against the forces of racism, sexism, and religious and political persecution? This is the new world of warfare that Neda Atanasoski observes in Humanitarian Violence, different in name from the old imperialism but not so different in kind. In particular, she considers U.S. militarism—humanitarian militarism—during the Vietnam War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the 1990s wars of secession in the former Yugoslavia.

What this book brings to light—through novels, travel narratives, photojournalism, films, news media, and political rhetoric—is in fact a system of postsocialist imperialism based on humanitarian ethics. In the fiction of the United States as a multicultural haven, which morally underwrites the nation’s equally brutal waging of war and making of peace, parts of the world are subject to the violence of U.S. power because they are portrayed to be homogeneous and racially, religiously, and sexually intolerant—and thus permanently in need of reform. The entangled notions of humanity and atrocity that follow from such mediations of war and crisis have refigured conceptions of racial and religious freedom in the post–Cold War era. The resulting cultural narratives, Atanasoski suggests, tend to racialize ideological differences—whereas previous forms of imperialism racialized bodies. In place of the European racial imperialism, U.S. settler colonialism, and pre–civil rights racial constructions that associated racial difference with a devaluing of nonwhite bodies, Humanitarian Violence identifies an emerging discourse of race that focuses on ideological and cultural differences and makes postsocialist and Islamic nations the potential targets of U.S. disciplining violence.

$25.00 paper ISBN 978-0-8166-8094-8
$75.00 cloth ISBN 978-0-8166-8093-1
280 pages, 10 b&w photos, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, December 2013

Miriam Ticktin, Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Immigration in France

From the Publisher (UC Press, 2011):

This book explores the unintended consequences of compassion in the world of immigration politics. Miriam Ticktin focuses on France and its humanitarian immigration practices to argue that a politics based on care and protection can lead the state to view issues of immigration and asylum through a medical lens. Examining two “regimes of care”—humanitarianism and the movement to stop violence against women—Ticktin asks what it means to permit the sick and sexually violated to cross borders while the impoverished cannot? She demonstrates how in an inhospitable immigration climate, unusual pathologies can become the means to residency papers, making conditions like HIV, cancer, and select experiences of sexual violence into distinct advantages for would-be migrants. Ticktin’s analysis also indicts the inequalities forged by global capitalism that drive people to migrate, and the state practices that criminalize the majority of undocumented migrants at the expense of care for the exceptional few.


The Legacy of Church Of God In Christ (COGIC) Singers and Musicians and a Post Memory Shift

By Anndretta Lyle Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

As Sterling Stuckey, Samuel Floyd and Guthrie Ramsey have argued about Black musical traditions going back to African ring shout, gospel music exemplifies signifying modes of oral performance in the way it changes, shifts, dances, shouts, boasts, moans, and double talks back, speaking in tongues with multiple meanings concealing its motive in plain sight. Not unlike the titular figure in Henry Louis Gates’ Signifyin’ Monkey, gospel music performance can appear indifferent to comprehension, it can defy judgment, and it answers to various names depending on who is calling. For example, funk and disco DJ’s have spun the music at clubs and on secular radio while internationally distributed films like Sister Act and The Color Purple rely heavily upon the form extending its long history of popular appeal. Gospel music remains unconfined by the manifest meanings it performs at any given instance and sings, “Yes” while it plays along.[1] Inclusive of these aforementioned inter-related styles and mediums I use the term gospel music performance to encapsulate the gestures, movement, speaking and preaching that are in many cases inextricable from gospel music in addition to “gospel song plays” and theatrical productions reliant upon the form.

The frequently marked yet anonymous presence of the COGIC music tradition, and similar Black religious Pentecostal “Holiness” traditions, as they are unnamed and unmentioned correlates with larger issues surrounding Black identity politics. One issue is the American non-Black mainstream tendency to melt all Black identities into singular exoticized or hyper-distinctive images and sounds of African Americans to represent “The” Black identity, and the subsequent commoditization of that selected identity for mainstream consumption of Blackness. In other words, mainstream non-Black America enterprise and media is consistently interested in representing Black Otherness as a “type” in its most extreme form, to highlight its difference from the mainstream, in order to facilitate the consumption of sub-culture for commercial profit.

A second issue is the reactive tendency by some Black groups frustrated by the incomplete and inaccurate identification assigned to them, to employ Racial Uplift movements as a way to distance themselves from the exoticized representations and if possible, silence and render invisible the sub-culture communities responsible for hyper-distinctive sights and sounds. In other words, Black groups trying to emphasize sameness with the mainstream, often with the line of reasoning that sameness will justify political and social equality, are frustrated with the relegation of Black identity to a narrow hyper-distinctive Otherness, and sometimes try to stifle whatever sub/cultural or social differences might get in the way of their Sameness agenda.

The range in Black Christian music is marked by two poles of opposing musical sounds. One is the music that most resembles African folk culture and the other is the music that most resembles Western European classical forms. From the mid Eighteenth Century to the early Twentieth Century there is evidence revealing how Black vocal sound has been repeatedly restricted and controlled through a cyclical mixture of political, religious and social class institutions. The two opposing poles previously mentioned indicate respectively both a failed attempt at muting the “natural” folk sound of Africans in religious music, and a successful attempt at adapting the sound of the ruling class in its place. In 1794 Richard Allen formed the congregation that would become the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. One hundred years later in 1895 Charles Mason co-founded the congregation that would become the Church of God In Christ. In both cases the identity of the groups were initially defined by embodied sound as much as their socio-political structures. The groups both manifested the same pattern: first separation from a larger main-stream organization, then celebrating a sonic identity, and finally establishing a permanent socio-political identity by the qualifying that sonic identity through the institutional exclusion of specific types of vocal performance.

According to Eileen Southern, the primary distinction of Black churches was the music and style of worship. Richard Allen, the AME founder, took it upon himself to not use the hymnals published by their white counterpart but selected songs that were more fitting to the congregation and in 1801 published the first hymnal compiled by a Negro. This Hymnbook included “wandering” verses that were improvisational in nature and could be added to any hymn. However, forty years later the same denomination would ban the use of Hymns in church services.

One of the early criticisms, and fascinations, of whites in regard to Black churches was the miasmic interpretation of song and prayer. One environment where this became especially evident was the interracial “Camp meeting” which was a larger version of something also called the “Bush Meeting.” In these rural settings where services were held under a tent, there were no hymnbooks; ministers, Baptists and otherwise would use a “lining out” method of congregational singing. This call and response style starts with a song leader and singing a line of the hymn essentially teaching it to the congregation and they repeat or respond. Southern gives several accounts of camp meetings that started with a formal, white service, but continued with a Negro extension.

I have elsewhere argued that certain gospel music performers, namely Pentecostal singers and musicians, are indifferent to the politics of representation as well as notions of modernism. I explore the history of one such group fitting this description, the Church of God In Christ (COGIC), and its somewhat hidden musical legacy, and specifically, COGIC performers who are second-generation California residents and continue the legacy of indifferent performance by incorporating the California experience into their music to create a new gospel form.

Marianne Hirsch acknowledges the acts of transfer that take place within a “familiar space” through the “language of family, the language of the body: nonverbal and noncognitive” communications, and those transfers also take place with Pentecostal expression performed in small churches and church communities. However, Hirsh insists that postmemory is not an “identity” position.[2] Instead she asserts that postmemory is a “structure” that “strives to reactivate and re-embody more distant social/national and archival/cultural memorial structures by reinvesting them with resonant individual and familial forms of mediation and aesthetic expression.” Because postmemory according to Hirsch is a structure rather than an identity position, it is possible that the structure of postmemory can be employed to shift identity based on the roles prescribed in Hirsch’s theory. I would like to examine the second generation of COGIC Pentecostal musicians living in California and how postmemory as a structure was an opportunity to transform representation, and ultimately perceived identity, through the re-embodiment and reinvestment of COGIC music.

In some cases, trauma is not connected to a single catastrophic event bracketed in history by normalcy with date stamps in order to qualify its description as a “traumatic interruption.” With the historical violence against Blacks beginning with the Atlantic slave trade during American colonization when Black slave labor helped to jumpstart a new economy, the continued violence through the institutional dehumanization of African Americans guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,[3] the trickery of emancipation with unfulfilled promises for reparations, the marginalizing Jim Crow representations of Blacks in performance that co-opted impressions of Black identity along with the subsequent Jim Crow laws and lynch mobs that ensured the mistreatment of African Americans, the government endorsed torture of Blacks both undocumented and well documented in the case of the Tuskegee experiment, and the patriotic genocide of African American soldiers in racist military drafts with “front line every time” deployment practices[4] throughout multiple wars, it would be hard to describe any particular trauma for African Americans as an Interruption. A series of consecutive violent events and overlapping individual and collective traumas to one group of people in one geographic location yielding centuries without a period of collective safety and peace would ironically help to define ‘safety and peace’ as the Interruption, should it ever arrive. For COGIC sons and daughters raised in utopic California and coming of age in the 60’s and 70’s, that Interruption arrived.

Second generation COGIC musicians lived neither the Jim Crow experience of the Southern counterparts, nor the tumultuous and violent conditions of Northern COGIC congregants. California environments, namely Los Angeles and San Francisco, yielded conditions that were out of sync with the harsh realities experienced by the First COGIC Generation in other cities. The rupture for Californian musicians was the inability to relate to religious expression so embedded with the need to perform sanctification as a method of survival and acceptance among whites and educated blacks, as well as the lack of nostalgia for southern religious practices. The sanctified version of the blues was music learned and passed on through embodied acts every Sunday in California churches, but the original urgency birthed in the environment of Jim Crow was not as relevant for the California singers and musicians once the Civil Rights era arrived. The embodied memory of COGIC music threaded with a history of castigation and violence was re-embodied with the addition of new forms and styles. Similar to the way Hirsch describes photos as a medium that was re-invested and layered with a new aesthetic by Second Generation artists, COGIC music was layered with a new aesthetic to reflect the rupture between Second Generation California musicians and their parents’ experiences. The most noted departure was the replacement of bluesy folk-like lyrics with lyrics that presented images of beauty, happiness and heaven (on earth). The new themes were more accessible by non-Pentecostals and even non-Christians, so that COGIC music based on a very particular history and tradition could cross identities to be claimed by “affiliates” without direct connections to the original culture. These artists include Walter and Edwin Hawkins, who as teenagers wrote and recorded the highest selling gospel song in history “Oh Happy Day” in Berkeley, CA, and Andraé Crouch who is the son of Bishop Samuel Crouch.

Andraé Crouch began playing for his father’s church at a young age and his first group was called the COGICS, or the “Church of God In Christ Singers.” That group included legendary organist Billy Preston who was only a teenager at the time, but would go on to write music with the Beatles. Elvis Presley covered Andraé Crouch’s music in 1972, and Crouch produced music for films The Color Purple, and The Lion King, and was highly influential in the Jesus music of 70’s and has seven Grammy’s to his credit.

Gospel song performance often reverses the performer-to-audience power dynamic that positions the performer in the ‘servant’ position. Gospel music puts forth the possibility that even with a sold-out ticketed ‘audience’ of witnesses seeking sonic paid-for pleasure from the gospel song performance, the form is oriented first toward pleasuring an invisible audience and secondly consuming its own sound to re/generate belief. Toward this composition and hierarchy, gospel song performers simultaneously sing and play sonic pleasure with priority toward the invisible, and toward themselves, while ‘facing away’ from audience witnesses with a level of indifference. This indifference is reiterated on a live choir recording CD released in 2000 as a popular song writer/composer explains the arrangement of relations in self-referential song lyrics: “My brothers and my sisters / We’re not standing here tonight to entertain you / But we’ve come to remind you / When praises go up / Blessings come down.” (Kurt Carr) Reading the verb “entertain” as to please, I understand the reiteration to mean that audiences should not expect performers to be primarily concerned with audience pleasure or enjoyment, and also that the function of the performance is to do faith through a song act directed “up” to the higher ranking invisible audience while the visible audience gets to witness.

Over time, as choirs directly address audiences to “remind them” that they are not, in fact, the primary addressees after-all but are witnesses to the vertical exchange taking place between the performers and God signified in the lyrics by “up” and “down,” the performance stages a certain indifference to spectatorship. Kurt Carr’s lyrics and recordings, for example, are now an archived version of the double-voiced address, which has been a recurring performance trope in certain styles of gospel music re-performed for many decades before and during concerts and in churches by soloists, emcees, and preachers. Carr’s lyrics, along with his choir’s (recorded) live performance comment on the historically recurring trope usually performed by an individual by voicing staged indifference in a multi-vocal form. By directing the choir to sing these particular phrases in unison (rather than one of his famous harmony arrangements), Carr shifts the trope from a singular declaration of indifference by a soloist, emcee, or preacher, to an indifference that collective and unified voices can perform. The “we” sings indifference to the congregation or audience and its gaze, its approval, its pleasure; while directing its address “up” in fashion reminiscent of Gates’ signifyin(g) because the choir addresses or references an invisible third party when only two parties are physically present.

Through the staging of indifference and pleasure, gospel music performance fosters self-reflexive understandings of sacredness in a sonic sphere. This project is oriented toward the ephemeral quality of sound and how productive musical forms that might, if discovered, be perceived as having “nonvalue” in a material commodity context (Moten), do indeed have a self-reflexive value and are indifferent to systems of exchange involving “outsiders, those who do not speak the language” (Gates) of certain gospel music traditions.

With double-voice of gospel song performance – and tricksters, it is the tendency of the aural performance mode to be simultaneously both excessive and underheard that allows for certain layers to slip “outside the economy of reproduction” (Moten, Phelan) while other layers become “objects of consumption” or “exchange value for the seller” (Attali). Black music, namely gospel performance for my purposes, is located in a space Moten describes as “the conjunction of reproduction and disappearance” (Moten) where excessive soundings meet indecipherable utterances and the address, like the voice, is split in two. While these layers of meaning have been thoroughly explored critically in earlier versions of the form including the function of the music for the Underground Railroad for example, there is much potential for critical work surrounding more contemporary expressions. My attention to African American sacred song performance and gospel music specifically is toward an analysis of sounds and sonic signs that disrupt and resist “formations of identity and interpretation by challenging the reducibility of phonic matter to verbal meaning or conventional musical form” (Moten) while acknowledging the potential for unannounced “autonomy” (Attali) within sacred song performances having trickster-like characteristics. In other words, the meanings of gospel song performances extend beyond both faith-filled lyrics and stereotypical Negro spiritual tropes of sorrow and suffering determined by slavery, lynching, and memories of violence.

I contend that even contemporary celebratory scenes absent of sorrow, violence and its memory are worthy of critical analysis toward conclusions that involve black bodies beyond terror. With indebtedness to the work of Saidiya Hartman who denies the more spectacular visualizations of Black bodies being mutilated in favor of “mundane” scenes of subjection, (Hartman) I too resist the urge to draw attention to sounds that correspond to violent and spectacular scenes of oppression or their memory: cries, shrieks, moans, and wailings that identify bodies being tortured and in pain. This project turns more toward sacred song performances that demonstrate jubilee in order to critically engage with performances concerned with subjectivity beyond the memory of lynching and other bodily and psychic subjection. This project seeks to reveal meanings that elude pervasive understandings of Blackness, particularly double consciousness, by resisting visuality as the preeminent “lens” for interpreting and understanding meaning and cultural production. In a space of indifference, which the form’s theological design enables, self consciousness can occur in a way that seems hardly possible with secular musics and other Black performance styles that prioritize pleasing a physical audience or conveying comprehensible meaning. As a condition of Blackness according to W.E.B. Du Bois who laments, “[T]he Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, – a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world” (Du Bois and Gates), it seems that “true” self-consciousness and Blackness in America cannot occupy the same space. Employing theology to defy the limitations of the “world” that is a seeing America, gospel song performance historically locates itself in the elusive sound spaces where one can hear self in a world where meaning is transmitted through sound rather than vision. In agreement with Alex Weheliye who suggests “hearing and sound, references to which serve as recto and verso of Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk, however, contribute differently to the fractured subjectivity of double consciousness, prompting us to ask about the status of black subjectivity as it passes through the aural” (Weheliye), I maintain that certain gospel music expressions allow subjects to access other worlds and other systems so that self consciousness can indeed be attained despite the determinism of Du Bois’ double consciousness. Gospel music performance allows for possibilities beyond the material distinctions that shape binary and physical performer-to-audience relations and performance spaces.

[1] The song Yes Lord is a Pentecostal hymn with a one-word chorus and that word – “Yes” – is heard as the choir in the church scene of The Color Purple sings.

[2] Hirsch p. 112
[3] 3/5 Compromise
[4] Blacks and the Draft: A History of Institutional Racism, Paul T. Murray, Journal of Black Studies , Vol. 2, No. 1 (Sep., 1971), pp. 57-76 , Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL:


Leshu Torchin, Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet:

From the Publisher:

Creating the Witness examines the role of film and the Internet in creating virtual witnesses to genocide over the past one hundred years. Leshu Torchin’s broad survey of media and the social practices around it investigates the development of popular understandings of genocide to achieve recognition and response, ultimately calling on viewers to act on behalf of human rights. University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa

The Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa (CIHA) Blog seeks to transform the phenomenon of aid to Africa into egalitarian and respectful relationships that challenge unequal power relations, paternalism and victimization. Our research and commentaries highlight critical and religious voices to explore connections among issues of faith, governance, gender, and race in colonial and post-colonial contexts. Through analysis and dialogue, we strive for equality, justice and, ultimately, respect for others’ desires, beliefs and practices.

Andrew Lam, Birds of Paradise Lost:

*Finalist for the California Book Award*

The thirteen stories in Birds of Paradise Lost shimmer with humor and pathos as they chronicle the anguish and joy and bravery of America’s newest Americans, the troubled lives of those who fled Vietnam and remade themselves in the San Francisco Bay Area. The past—memories of war and its aftermath, of murder, arrest, re-education camps and new economic zones, of escape and shipwreck and atrocity—is ever present in these wise and compassionate stories. It plays itself out in surprising ways in the lives of people who thought they had moved beyond the nightmares of war and exodus. It comes back on TV in the form of a confession from a cannibal; it enters the Vietnamese restaurant as a Vietnam Vet with a shameful secret; it articulates itself in the peculiar tics of a man with Tourette’s Syndrome who struggles to deal with a profound tragedy. Birds of Paradise Lost is an emotional tour de force, intricately rendering the false starts and revelations in the struggle for integration, and in so doing, the human heart.

Didier Fassin, Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present

Cover Image

From the Publisher:

In the face of the world’s disorders, moral concerns have provided a powerful ground for developing international as well as local policies. Didier Fassin draws on case materials from France, South Africa, Venezuela, and Palestine to explore the meaning of humanitarianism in the contexts of immigration and asylum, disease and poverty, disaster and war. He traces and analyzes recent shifts in moral and political discourse and practices — what he terms “humanitarian reason”— and shows in vivid examples how humanitarianism is confronted by inequality and violence. Deftly illuminating the tensions and contradictions in humanitarian government, he reveals the ambiguities confronting states and organizations as they struggle to deal with the intolerable. His critique of humanitarian reason, respectful of the participants involved but lucid about the stakes they disregard, offers theoretical and empirical foundations for a political and moral anthropology.