Volume 94,#3

Summer 2021

Hanna Garth’s “There is No Race in Cuba”: Level of Culture and the Logics of Transnational Anti-Blackness


phone: 202-994-3215  e-mail: ifer@gwu.edu


Volume 94, #3 • Summer 2021




“There is No Race in Cuba”: Level of Culture and the Logics of Transnational Anti-Blackness

Hanna Garth, Princeton University

ABSTRACT—While many Cubans of all racialized identities often insist that there is no race or racism in Cuba, they still experience ongoing forms of prejudice and discrimination. This article analyzes the translocal processes through which the logics of racialization and racism circulate in contemporary Cuba. Based on long-term ethnographic research in Santiago de Cuba, known as Cuba’s Blackest City, I analyze the local construct level of culture as central to ongoing processes of racialization in Santiago. I trace Cubans’ experiences of racialization from Santiago to Havana to the United States, connecting their experiences of race and racism to broader transnational forms of anti-Blackness that date back to the colonial era. I show the ways in which the translocal process of racialization through level of culture is not another form of Cuban exceptionalism, but rather links the Cuban experience to broader regional constructs of race, respectability, and culture. [Keywords: Race, racism, Cuba, Caribbean, transnational, anti-Blackness, color-blind racism]


Becoming Useful and Humble: Masculinity, Morality, and Association Football in Cameroon

Uroš Kovač, University of Cologne & University of Münster

ABSTRACT—In the post-structural adjustment Southwest Region of Cameroon, young men are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve social adulthood and are turning to migration as a solution. During the past two decades, the transnational market of association football players has expanded and for young Cameroonian men football has emerged as one of the most desirable ways to migrate. Many young men are inspired by African footballers in elite international leagues and seek opportunities to play abroad and begin earning a livelihood. But opportunities for transnational mobility and careers in professional sport are rare and precarious. For footballers, their managers, and their families, success and failure are tied to the uncertainties of football and migration, but even more so to issues of moral standing and masculinity. Masculinity emerges as a result of self-fashioning as moral subjects, driven by new and old gendered aspirations to engage globalized markets and fulfill family demands of economic redistribution. Evocations of masculinity and morality reveal why young men aspire to precarious careers in sports, but can also obscure the uncertainties of transnational markets and the elusiveness of adulthood in structurally adjusted Africa.[Keywords: Masculinity, morality, mobility, youth, sport, football, Cameroon]


Sonic Governance: Culturalization and Criminalization of Funk Carioca in Rio de Janeiro

Alexandra Lippman, Pomona College

ABSTRACT—Music and sound have long served as symbols of Brazil, and contests over public sound amplify contests over space, governance, and biopolitics. In anticipation of hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, sound became an important and contested arena of politics in Rio de Janeiro. I discuss how aurality becomes a political force through the emergence of two distinct forms of sonic politics around local popular music, funk carioca: criminalization and, what I call, culturalization. While criminalization mutes and controls sound through police repression, culturalization creates a purified sound and appeals to law to claim legitimacy as “culture.” Funk carioca’s criminalization in favelas and culturalization in the formal city reveals how different modes of governance are spatialized within the city. The paradox of criminalization and culturalization of funk suggests coexistence of authoritarian and liberal democratic modes of governance in the city. [Keywords: Music, Brazil, cultural rights, sound, governance, race]


Freedom under Paramountcy: Đa gi năng Traders as Active Moral Agents in Late-socialist Vietnam

Minh Chau Lam, Vietnam National University, Hanoi

ABSTRACT—Building on fieldwork between 2012–2019 in a northern Vietnamese village, this article documents the striking ways villagers have dealt with an enduring concern of those who inhabit the complex moral world of post-/late-socialism: how to handle choices that involve thinking and acting like neoliberal subjects. I focus on a relatively undocumented livelihood strategy villagers call đa gi năng, a term with striking moral connotations that means “keeping multiple livelihood strategies and never putting all eggs in one basket.” This strategy is inspired by a locally specific reference point: the well-being of the family, perceived in Xuan as both the achievement of substantial material improvements for the family and the protection of its hard-won security against unpredictable state policies. It is this reference point that grants villagers remarkable moral freedom, both to actively pursue substantial material comfort for the family by means of rational market calculations and independent decisions without being troubled by moral frameworks that treat neoliberalism as problematic, and to evade with explicit moral confidence the state’s push to fully embrace neoliberal spirits and commit everything to a single profitable yet risky enterprise. I argue that the well-being of the family is the paramount moral value in Xuan. While the existing scholarship has focused mostly on how paramount values facilitate cultural reproduction of a Durkheimian kind, this article shows that the family as the paramount value can grant freedom. Although subjects are confined within the moral domain the paramount value creates, it is within that confined space that they can find the freedom to choose the kind of self they wish to be. [Keywords: Morality, late-socialism, neoliberal, freedom, Vietnam]



Black Beans, White Rice: On the Racialization of Table Manners in Brazil, 1805–2018

Jonathan DeVore, University of Cologne

ABSTRACT—Following the implosion of the “racial democracy” myth, scholars have debated the role of cultural imperialism apparent in the shift toward dichotomous “black-white” expressions of race in Brazil. This contribution situates quotidian expressions of cultural imperialism at the heart of racialization projects. Building from research on “blackness” as a transnational historical phenomenon, this article examines how one particular expression of cultural “whiteness” came to social life in Brazil. The account draws on ethnographic research in southern Bahia and 19th century travel writing to trace how a particular manner of eating beans and rice, which some rural Bahians today describe as “eating by hand” (comendo de mão), transitioned from being an unmarked and widespread commensal practice in the 19th century—even among Brazil’s social elites—to become a stigmatized and racialized practice, as expressed in contemporary race ideologies. While the use of utensils became a sign of whiteness, eating by hand was reconstituted as a mark of non-whiteness. [Keywords: Commensality, cultural imperialism, food, hierarchy, historical anthropology, phenomenology, racialization, semiotics, whiteness, Brazil]