La Perle des Antilles: A Haiti Reading List

Located on the western side of the Hispanola island, Haiti has been a nation plagued by both natural disasters, public health crises, and political unrest throughout modern history. While the current political administration is quick to dismiss the country and its people using racist and vulgar language, it is clear that this complex nation does not deserve such a moniker. We’ve selected several titles from our backlist that dive deep into the country’s history, politics, and struggles, all of which will help one understand the place the French dubbed la perle des antilles.

Haiti, History, and the Gods by Joan Dayan

In Haiti, History, and the Gods, Joan Dayan charts the cultural imagination of Haiti not only by reconstructing the island’s history but by highlighting ambiguities and complexities that have been ignored. She investigates the confrontational space in which Haiti is created and recreated in fiction and fact, text and ritual, discourse and practice. Dayan’s ambitious project is a research tour de force that gives human dimensions to this eighteenth-century French colony and provides a template for understanding the Haiti of today.

 

 

Rara!: Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora by Elizabeth McAlister

Rara is a vibrant annual street festival in Haiti, when followers of the Afro-Creole religion called Vodou march loudly into public space to take an active role in politics. Working deftly with highly original ethnographic material, Elizabeth McAlister shows how Rara bands harness the power of Vodou spirits and the recently dead to broadcast coded points of view with historical, gendered, and transnational dimensions.

 

 

Democratic Insecurities: Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti by Erica James

Democratic Insecurities focuses on the ethics of military and humanitarian intervention in Haiti during and after Haiti’s 1991 coup. In this remarkable ethnography of violence, Erica Caple James explores the traumas of Haitian victims whose experiences were denied by U.S. officials and recognized only selectively by other humanitarian providers. Using vivid first-person accounts from women survivors, James raises important new questions about humanitarian aid, structural violence, and political insecurity.

 

 

Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora by Margarita Mooney

Based on fieldwork in Haiti and in three cities of the Haitian diaspora–Miami, Montreal, and Paris–this study offers a vivid portrait of the power of faith for immigrants. Drawing on extensive interviews and including rich details of everyday life, Margarita Mooney explores the struggles and joys of Haitian Catholics in these three very different cities. She finds that religious narratives, especially those about transformation and redemption, provide real meaning and hope in what are often difficult conditions.

 

 

AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame by Paul Farmer

Does the scientific “theory” that HIV came to North America from Haiti stem from underlying attitudes of racism and ethnocentrism in the United States rather than from hard evidence? Award-winning author and anthropologist-physician Paul Farmer answers with this, the first full-length ethnographic study of AIDS in a poor society.


Beyond Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism in the Global Square

This post is published during the American Historical Association conference in Washington, D.C. (Jan. 4-7).  

 

 

Now more than ever, discussions of race, ethnicity, and nationalism must take a global perspective. Cultures, histories, and societies are racialized as more and more people cross borders. The boundaries of each nation are no longer geographical; instead, we find that one culture can profoundly affect another.

The Global Square

The Global Square Series features volumes focused on how regions and countries interact with the rest of the contemporary world. Each volume analyzes the tensions, inequalities, and challenges inherent in global relationships. Drawing on work by journalists, artists, and academics from a range of disciplines—from the humanities to the sciences, from history to public health to literature—these collections showcase essays on the histories, cultures, and societies of countries and regions as they develop in conjunction with and contradiction of other geographic centers.

Latin America

In Jeffrey Lesser’s and Matthew C. Gutmann’s Global Latin America: Into the Twenty-First Century, volume contributors share impact of Latin America on the rest of the world, with the editors using Che Guevara as a small example of how Latin American countries impact our global culture, economy, and politics.

 

 

 

Africa

And in Judith Byfield’s and Dorothy Hodgson’s Global Africa: Into the Twenty-First Century, volume contributors discuss the entangled histories of the region, with the editors bringing to light the racialized divide within Africa—and encouraging how to go beyond it.

 

 

Visit UC Press booth #430 for a 40% discount at #AHA18! And learn more about the Global Square Series.


The Tide Was Always High: Tune In to December’s Playlist

Within the history of Los Angeles, the Latin American cadence is hard to ignore: Among the city’s most consistent beats, its most influential set of rhythms and melodies, are those that have arrived after traveling through a century or two of cultural contact and musical creativity in the Americas and across the African Diaspora. . . . Latin American music in Los Angeles is past and future at once.—Josh Kun, in his introduction to The Tide Was Always High

Musical Interventions—the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA concert series curated by Josh Kun—wraps up this weekend, but you can still get your fill of cha cha cha rhythms and mambo melodies with his latest playlist below. And the accompanying book The Tide Was Always High is available to deepen your knowledge of Latin music and its impact on Los Angeles and American culture.

From Hollywood film sets to recording studios, vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, the book explores the deep connections between Los Angeles and Latin America. Take a peek inside at some of the lush vintage album covers and check out LA Weekly for an excerpt connecting the dots between Latin music, Blondie, Mission: Impossible, and the Million Dollar Theater.

Musical Interventions
Event details at tidewasalwayshigh.com

December 2, 2017: That Bad Donato: The L.A. Brazil Connection—at Royce Hall, UCLA

This special evening revisits the 1970 album by legendary Brazilian pianist, producer and arranger João Donato, A Bad Donato (recorded in L.A.), and other moments of “Brazil-in-L.A”. musical creativity. Inspired by the Fowler Museum at UCLA exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis, the concert features performances by João Donato backed by Bixiga 70, and Bahia-raised Mateus Aleluia with L.A.-based Brazilian singer Thalma de Freitas. Produced in partnership with Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

UC Press is thrilled to publish three books in conjunction with PST: LA/LA. Learn more here.

 


Why I Study Beauty in Brazil

by Alvaro Jarrín, author of The Biopolitics of Beauty: Cosmetic Citizenship and Affective Capital in Brazil

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd.

Beauty matters deeply in southeastern Brazil. Everyone has strong opinions on what ideal beauty is, how it can be attained and the effects it has on those who possess it. Popular sayings like “beauty opens doors” reflect a widespread belief that being beautiful can lead to upward mobility, because it provides opportunities in the job market and marriage market that would otherwise be closed. The popular saying “there are no ugly people, only poor people,” on the other hand, implies that no one is ugly by choice, and that those who lack beauty are only that way because they cannot afford the myriad beautification techniques available for purchase. Even for the working class, there are low-cost aesthetic surgeries available at some publicly funded hospitals that double as medical schools, but patients must agree to become experimental subjects for medical residents from all over the world who come to learn new Brazilian surgical techniques. Beauty matters in Brazil not only because individuals value it so highly, but also because the nation has become a global center of knowledge production within the transnational circuits of the plastic surgery industry.

In my book, The Biopolitics of Beauty, I trace the origins of this national concern with beauty to Brazilian eugenics, which began to consider beauty as a measure of racial progress. For the plastic surgeons I interviewed, beauty was still a eugenic enterprise, insofar as it “corrected” what they perceived as mistakes from too much racial mixture, and produced a more homogeneous population. They described their work with working-class populations as a form of charity, and considered it a way to uplift the poor and provide them citizenship by improving their appearance. Patients really admired the surgeons who offered beauty to the poor, but were more critical of the “dictatorship of beauty” they felt they had to participate in. My interviewees at publicly funded hospitals in southeastern Brazil described ugliness as intimately tied to forms of race, class and gender discrimination they had suffered – beauty had meaning for them because it seemed to condense all the ways that appearance trumped their qualifications or their hard work. Patients knew very well that they were running a risk by consenting to become “guinea pigs” for plastic surgeons, but they told me repeatedly that the risks of ugliness were even higher.

As I prepare to present my work at the upcoming AAA Meetings in Washington D.C., I think about this year’s conference theme, “Anthropology Matters,” and the ways in which anthropology can help us understand the world we live in, critique the forms of inequality we see, and yet empathize with people who are caught in power structures that are larger than themselves. Too often, people dismiss the Brazilian plastic surgery rates as an effect of their “culture,” and leave the question at that. Anthropology helped me unpack the complexity behind this cultural practice, and understand how beauty came to feel like a dictatorship for many Brazilians.


Alvaro Jarrín is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at College of the Holy Cross.


Tune in: New Playlist for The Tide Was Always High and Peeks Inside the Book

Music and musicians from Latin America are inextricable from the development of Los Angeles as a modern musical city. This volume listens for the musical urbanism of Los Angeles through the ear of Latin America. It makes the argument that the musical life of this dispersed and dynamic metropolis is shaped by immigrant musicians and migrating, cross-border musical cultures that not only have determined LA’s “harmonies of scenery,” but have been active participants in the making of the city’s modern aesthetics and modern industries.—Josh Kun, in his introduction to The Tide Was Always High

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA continues throughout Los Angeles, and for the unprecedented Getty-led collaboration, MacArthur Fellow and cultural historian Josh Kun curated a multi-part “musical exhibition” that explore the musical networks between Los Angeles and various Latin American communities and cultures. Tune in to his latest Musical Intervention (details at the bottom of the page), plus a new curated playlist.

To deepen the experience of these events, The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles accompanies the series with essays, interviews, and analysis from leading academics, artists, journalists on the iconic Latin American musicians who shaped Los Angeles—and America: Carmen Miranda, Esquivel, Yma Sumac, Agustín Lara, Pérez Prado, Cannonball Adderley, Eva Quintanar, Paulinho da Costa, Lalo Schifrin, Earth, Wind & Fire, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ninón Sevilla, João Donato, Eddie Cano, Abraham Laboriel Sr, Elisabeth Waldo, David Axelrod, María Conesa, Arsenio Rodríguez, Justo Almario, Tito Rodríguez, Flora Purim, Banda Nueva Dinastía de Zoochila, Roy Ayers, Alex Acuña, Airto Moreira, Sergio Mendes, Luis Conte.

From Hollywood film sets to recording studios, from vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, the book explores the deep connections between Los Angeles and Latin America, complete with lush imagery and historical photos. Take a peek inside at some of the vibrant vintage album covers:

From the emergence of Afro-Cuban jazz to the influence of Brazilian samba and bossa nova…
… to the cha cha cha rhythms of Cuban cha cha cha, Hollywood cha cha cha, rock and roll cha cha cha, and R&B cha cha cha…
…to the Hollywood scores arranged by the most influential, post-war, Latin American composer to the King of the Mambo…
… and the King of Space Age Pop…
…to ethnomusicology and everyone and sound in between, “The Tide Was Always High” shows how the music of Latin America has impacted Los Angeles and American culture for decades.

Musical Interventions
All events listed at tidewasalwayshigh.com

November 4, 2017: Guillermo Galindo’s Human Nature: Sonic Botany—The Huntington, Rose Hills Garden Court

Experimental composer, sonic architect, and performance artist Guillermo Galindo presents a work inspired by “Visual Voyages.”  Free; no reservations required.

UC Press is thrilled to publish three books in conjunction with PST: LA/LA. Learn more here.


Save 40% on New & Notable Western History Titles

The 2017 Western History Association convenes November 1-4 in San Diego, CA, and WHA members can save 40% on UC Press titles when they visit us at booth #28.

Get an early look at just some of the titles we’ll have on view by visiting our Western History Association landing page—and take advantage of the conference discount early. Browse new and forthcoming UC Press titles in the field of Western History, and save.


Open in order to . . . . Author Nancy Postero Explains Why She Published with Luminos

By Nancy Postero, author of The Indigenous State: Race, Politics, and Performance in Plurinational Bolivia

At UC Press, open access—the free, immediate, unrestricted, online access to peer-reviewed research and scholarly work—is central to our mission. In celebration of 2017 International Open Access Week (October 23-29), we are highlighting open access publishing initiatives at UC Press, including our Collabra and Luminos publishing programs. This year’s OA Week theme “Open in order to . . . ” is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly publications openly available. Follow the full blog series here#OAWeek #OpenInOrderTo


I am so excited about being able to publish my new book, The Indigenous State: Race, Politics, and Performance in Plurinational Bolivia on Luminos’s new open access platform. I chose to publish this as an open access book because I wanted it to be available to my Latin American colleagues, who do not all have the same library access to journals and books that North American scholars do. I was really incited to do this at a meeting of the Bolivianist scholars network a few years ago. When Northern faculty asked our Bolivian friends what we could do to support their research, they unanimously said: Put everything you can on the web so we can access it. My own work has benefitted so much from  my conversations with Latin American, and particularly Bolivian, scholars, and I feel making my work available is one small part of my larger ethical and intellectual debt to them. And it is working! I was just at a conference in Mexico, and a young indigenous MA student from Ecuador told me she had just downloaded and read my book. I am thrilled because it took much longer for my previous work to reach colleagues.

I am also particularly happy to make this available for free to graduate students. While the older generation of scholars still prefers to read hard copy books (Luminos books are also available in that format), most younger scholars read mostly online. It is great to be able to send people a link and know they can read it without the expense of buying and shipping books around the world.


Nancy Postero is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Now We Are Citizens: Indigenous Politics in Post-Multicultural Bolivia.

The Indigenous State: Race, Politics, and Performance in Plurinational Bolivia is published in University of California Press’s Luminos open access book program. Click here to download a free digital copy of the book.

Sign up for the Luminos eNewsletter to learn more about future Luminos publications and other Luminos news.

 


A Look at Teotihuacan for International Archaeology Day

Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. A devastating fire in the city center led to a rapid decline after the middle of the sixth century, but Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned or forgotten. Today the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.

Photograph of Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan for International Archaeology Day
View of the Sun Pyramid looking east. At 63 meters tall, the Sun Pyramid was one of the largest and tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere until the development of the skyscraper in the nineteenth century. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Detail of pyramid sculptures at Teotihuacan
Facade of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, assembled as a mosaic of large and small sculptures. Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara Elías, © INAH. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

The recently opened exhibition at the de Young Museum is historic in many ways. The result of long-term international collaboration, including a 30 year partnership with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), the spectacular exhibition features more than 200 artifacts and artworks from the site displayed in dramatic and awe-inspiring ways. It is a rare opportunity to contemplate objects drawn from major collections in Mexico, some very recently excavated, and many on view in the U.S. for the first time.

Exhibition detail from de Young Museum
Installation of “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire” at the de Young Museum. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Excavation photography from Teotihuacan
Two standing anthropomorphic sculptures discovered near the terminus of the tunnel beneath the Ciudadela and the Feathered Serpent Pyramid. Photograph by Sergio Gómez Chávez. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

Today is International Archaeology Day, so curator Matthew Robb’s comments on the exhibition are especially timely.

“The ideas behind Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire were really inspired by the work of my archaeologist colleagues. They selected many of the objects for the catalogue from their own projects, and we worked together to shape those selections into a coherent image of this ancient city. We had a real opportunity to showcase their work to a broader audience, as well as provide the field with an important update to what we know about Teotihuacan. Archaeology is painstaking, intensely collaborative work—it requires so much patience and discipline. The end result is that tantalizing glimpse into the past, into how people once lived and thought—a glimpse made more complete by the meticulous gathering of data and objects archaeologists carry out every day.”  —Matthew Robb, curator

In the exhibition, monumental and ritual objects from Teotihuacan’s three largest pyramids—the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and the Sun Pyramid—are shown alongside mural paintings, ceramics, and stone sculptures from the city’s apartment compounds. By bringing these pieces together, and contextualizing specific sites within the city, this is an unprecedented opportunity to experience a significant place in Mexico’s cultural landscape.

Map drawing of Teotihuacan site
Site map of Teotihuacan. Composed by Hilary Olcott, Image courtesy of the FAMSF.
Detail of exhibits at de Young Museum
Installation of “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire” at the de Young Museum. Image courtesy of the FAMSF.

Edited by Matthew Robb and co-published with the de Young Museum, the beautifully illustrated catalogue is equally impressive in its scope and ability to unearth the secrets within and beneath the city that are only now coming to light.

Cover image of exhibition catalogue

For an all-access preview of the exhibition check out the Teotihuacan digital story. We expect that it will inspire not only a visit to the exhibition, but also a trip to Mexico to see the captivating and mysterious ancient city en vivo.

Note that the exhibition will also travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Spring 2018.

In honor of International Archaeology Day, save 30% on the exhibition catalogue with code 16M4197.

 


Tune in: The Tide Was Always High Concert Series

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is in full swing in Los Angeles, and for the unprecedented program, editor Josh Kun has turned a year of academic research into a phenomenal lineup of concerts and the book The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles.

Led by the Getty, PST: LA/LA is an ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles and a joint effort of more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Each month, Kun curates a monthly playlist related to his research, so tune in below and read along with The Tide Was Always High. Save 30% today with code 17M6662.

Here’s what’s happening this month:

Musical Interventions 

Event details at tidewasalwayshigh.com

October 7, 2017: Voice of the Xtabay: A Tribute to Yma Sumac—at Hammer Museum

A genre-bending roster of Los Angeles Latinx vocalists and musicians reimagine the songs of multi-octave Peruvian singer and Capitol Records recording star Yma Sumac. Inspired by the Hammer exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985, the evening features Empress Of, Nite Jewel, Maria Elena Altany, Ceci Bastida, Dorian Wood, Carmina Escobar, and Francisca Valenzuela. Produced in partnership with the Hammer Museum.

October 18, 2017: Playing With Fires: Chicano Batman Plays Carlos Almaraz—at LACMA

Celebrated Los Angeles band Chicano Batman will perform new music inspired by LACMA’s exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Performance will take place in the exhibition gallery. Produced in partnership with LACMA.

October 26, 2017: Tonight at the Palace!: A Variedades Tribute—at The Downtown Palace Theatre

Inspired by classic Spanish-language variety shows held at downtown movie palaces such as the Million Dollar and the Palace, this imaginative evening features live music, dance, comedy and a screening of restored Spanish language Laurel and Hardy films. Hosted by Mexico City performer and writer Amandititita, the evening includes the Versa-Style Dance Company and music from La Familia Gonzalez de Los Angeles, and an all-star jam session with Abraham Laboriel, Paulinho Da Costa, Alex Acuña, and Justo Almario. Produced in partnership with USC’s Visions & Voices.

UC Press is thrilled to be publishing three books in conjunction with PST: LA/LA. Learn more here.

#PSTLALA // #TheTideWasAlwaysHigh


Student History is Written in the Streets

by Heather Vrana, author of This City Belongs to You: A History of Student Activism in Guatemala, 1944-1996

A nation-wide strike is set for Wednesday, September 20 in Guatemala. Last week, Guatemala’s Congress voted 104 to 25 against repealing the immunity that protects President Jimmy Morales from investigations into charges of corruption during his 2015 presidential campaign. For weeks, protestors had gathered outside of various government offices, chanting, “Iván stays, Jimmy goes” and “Student: history is written in the streets.” The vote dealt a huge blow to those who have worked for decades to fight a deep-rooted system of impunity that defends the powerful in spite of truth and reconciliation commissions, human rights tribunals, and international pressure. The great irony is that although Morales ran as the anti-corruption candidate (his slogan was “Ni corrupto, ni ladrón”), much of his presidency has been mired in controversy. What else can be expected of a man whose previous career required him to don outrageous—and often racist—costumes? Morales’ comedy career prepared him well.

As one Guatemala City professional recently said to me, “we are accustomed to this.”

Yet, to be accustomed to corruption is not to accept it. On the contrary, what has been so remarkable over the past few years is precisely the combative nature of Guatemala’s daily practice of politics.

In April and May 2015, thousands of Guatemalans began gathering on weekends in the Plaza de la Constitución to protest then president Otto Pérez Molina. It was an open secret that he was implicated in many deaths during the civil war and there was no greater symbol of impunity. By early September, the protestors were successful in removing Pérez Molina and his vice president from office. Such a thing had happened only once before in Guatemala’s history. Social media and news coverage of these electrifying days constantly referred to the protests of June and October 1944, when a wide alliance of popular groups and the military overthrew the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico.

My book, This City Belongs to You: A History of Student Activism in Guatemala, 1944-1996 begins with the university student organizing that led up to these massive protests. It follows several generations of students at Guatemala’s only public university, the Universidad de San Carlos (USAC). Each chapter explores how students engaged with the university as an institution as well as Guatemalan and (to a lesser extent) U.S. state apparatuses between 1944 and 1996, a period marked by revolution, counterrevolution, and civil war. Through these encounters, USAC students (called San Carlistas) forged a loose consensus around faith in the principles of liberalism, especially belief in equal liberty, the constitutional republic, political rights, and the responsibility of university students to lead the nation. I call this consensus student nationalism and trace how it became a defining feature of Guatemala’s middle class across the twentieth century.

This tradition of political involvement that comes to define the middle class is in no small way the condition of possibility for the ongoing protests we see today. Student nationalism was a shared project for identity-making, premised on the inclusions and exclusions of citizenship. It was less something one had or believed than a way of making political claims. It helped to bring San Carlistas into enduring fraternal bonds with their classmates as well as other citizens in a broad popular movement. As the civil war progressed and the military and police declared war on the university and the popular sector, student nationalism helped the opposition wage culture wars over historical memory.

Today, the protestors gathered in the streets are inheritors of San Carlistas’ traditions of struggle. They expect to protest when the government fails to fulfill its paltry promises to the people. The names of student, peasant, and union martyrs adorn their signs and t-shirts. While my book is a history of many generations of young people: their hopes, their actions, their role in social change; attempts to control them; their struggles against the government; and their encounters with the university as a state apparatus and a crucial site for resistance and celebration, the struggle in the streets today continues to evolve and become much, much bigger than this.


Heather Vrana is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Florida and the editor of Anti-Colonial Texts from Central American Student Movements 1929–1983.