With a booming economy that afforded numerous opportunities for
immigrants throughout the 1990s, the Twin Cities area has attracted
people of African descent from throughout the United States and the
world and is fast becoming a transnational metropolis. Minnesota's
largest urban area, the region now also has the country's most
diverse black population. A closely drawn ethnography, Creating
Africa in America: Translocal Identity in an Emerging World
City seeks to understand and evaluate the process of identity
formation in the context of globalization in a way that is also
Bringing to this study a rich and interesting professional history
and expertise, Jacqueline Copeland-Carson focuses on a
Minneapolis-based nonprofit, the Cultural Wellness Center, which
combines different ethnic approaches to bodily health and community
well-being as the basis for a shared, translocal "African" culture.
The book explores how the body can become a surrogate locus for
identity, thus displacing territory as the key referent for
organizing and experiencing African diasporan diversity. Showing
how alternatives are created to mainstream majority and Afrocentric
approaches to identity, she addresses the way that bridges can be
built in the African diaspora among different African immigrant,
African American, and other groups.
As this thoughtful and compassionate ethnographic study shows, the
fact that there is no simple and concrete way to define how one can
be African in contemporary America reflects the tangled nature of
cultural processes and social relations at large. Copeland-Carson
demonstrates the cultural creativity and social dexterity of people
living in an urban setting, and suggests that anthropologists give
more attention to the role of the nonprofit sector as a forum for
creating community and identity throughout African diasporan
history in the United States.
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