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Navigating the African Diaspora

Navigating the African Diaspora: The Anthropology of Invisibility

Donald Martin Carter
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Navigating the African Diaspora
    Book Description:

    Investigating how the fraught political economy of migration impacts people around the world, Donald Martin Carter raises important issues about contemporary African diasporic movements. Developing the notion of the anthropology of invisibility, he explores the trope of navigation in social theory intent on understanding the lived experiences of transnational migrants.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7331-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Anthropology of Invisibility
    (pp. 1-34)

    Journeys are an active engagement with the world, and are at the very least transformative and irreversible. Journeys have a sense of agency that we must keep alive through our explorations. Let me paraphrase the beginning of an old tale. It is a song of diaspora and concerns the people of the African diaspora and the twists and turns that have time and again driven people off course, transformed by the struggle to regain their way and dignity, with renewed strength and vision for the journey ahead. I invoke the spirit of the Odyssey because it is deeply rooted in...

  6. CHAPTER 1 A Nonracial Education: On Navigating Diaspora, Anti-Black Caricature, and Anthropology
    (pp. 35-70)

    Autobiography lurks in the background of almost every anthropological enterprise. This is a “social fact” one often discovers by chance. For me, it was in the odd inherited carpet in the apartment of an African/European anthropologist, linking him and his “people” to the imagined geography of his lineage. Or the aside during a talk that firmly located an ethnographer in her social world through the mention of some personal detail—a claim to a membership in some privileged order—or the colorful story from the field when x did y, the story ending in a telling childhood memory. It’s not...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Remembering Khartoum and Other Tales of Displacement
    (pp. 71-104)

    If we were to configure the architecture of contemporary anthropology, the resulting structure might reveal the explorations of experience, material culture, and space and time to be essential features of its fragile identity. One of the pioneering figures of this world was no doubt Godfrey Lienhardt, who mapped the meanings of Dinka cosmology in his classicDivinity and Experience(1961). In the heart of the work, Lienhardt considers memory, experience, and the significance of naming a child “Khartoum”—the son of a man once imprisoned in the city. Located at the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, the two...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Inexhaustible Sense of Exile: Other Cultures in the Photographic Imaginary
    (pp. 105-142)

    The Famished Road, a novel by Ben Okri, opens with the meditations of a spirit child contemplating whether to continue life in the mundane world or surrender and returning to the ethereal realm. In a phrase that speaks to the underlying tension within diasporic experience, Okri writes, “To be born is to come into the world weighed down with strange gifts of the soul, with enigmas and an inextinguishable sense of exile” (1992, 5). This sense of exile—often cast as a trope of travel, an opposition between home and elsewhere—remains at the heart of attempts to configure diaspora...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Crossing Modernity: The Journey from Imperial to Diasporic Nostalgia
    (pp. 143-172)

    “In presenting culture as a subject for analysis and critique,” anthropologist Renato Rosaldo once wrote, “the ethnographic perspective develops an interplay between making the familiar strange and the strange familiar” (1989, 39). Presenting culture—whatever we might imagine these days the concept of culture to be—it seems to me is no longer an activity restricted solely to the ethnographer. It has in fact become the peculiar preserve of the fiction writer, the filmmaker, and, increasingly, photographers or image makers of various sorts. Making the taken-for-granted aspects of our lives seem less than the working of grounded “universal truths”—that...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Sites of Erasure: Black Prisoners and the Poetry of Léopold Sédar Senghor
    (pp. 173-208)

    In this chapter and chapter 6, I present a meditation on the lives and work of two Senegalese scholars, politicians, filmmakers, and former colonial soldiers: the late Léopold Sédar Senghor, former president of Senegal, and the late filmmaker and cultural critic Ousmane Sembene. The work of these two figures encompasses a period in African history beginning in colonialism, passing through an era in which African colonial subjects attempted to “assimilate” into French society through the few educational opportunities offered them, and ending at Independence and the postcolonial present. I take as a point of departure in the following sections an...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Comrade Storyteller: Diasporic Encounters in the Cinema of Ousmane Sembene
    (pp. 209-240)

    Ousmane Sembene (1923–2007) in his filmCamp de Thiaroyebrings together two of the most pressing issues for Africans during the 1940s (the era in which the film is set): citizenship and labor. The extension of citizenship to everyone in French West Africa and equal pay and parity with the European worker were the two political demands that began to take shape during this time; Sembene, as a former soldier and trade unionist, was well aware of these discussions. Simple as it may seem at face value, these two notions would spell the end of the colonial order as...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Travel Warnings: Observations of Voyages Real and Imagined
    (pp. 241-270)

    The early lists of the traveler developed into guidebooks and finally travel reports, a record of the detailed observations of the traveler. All of this was organized into the form of a journal from the Renaissance on, crafting what was to become a highly ritualized form of knowledge through which the world was appropriated as information about an elsewhere (Leed 1991, 188). A new focus on factual accounting left fantastical tales in the past as a new, scientific genre came into vogue. These reports were in a sense a bridge from the self to the observable world—a link to...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 271-306)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-326)
  15. Index
    (pp. 327-362)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 363-363)