By Shirley Moody-Turner
"Before the leading edge paintings of Zora Neale Hurston, folklorists from the Hampton Institute accrued, studied, and wrote approximately African American folklore. Like Hurston, those folklorists labored inside of but additionally past the boundaries of white mainstream associations. they typically referred to as into query the that means of the very folklore tasks during which they have been engaged. Shirley Moddy-Turner analyzes this output, in addition to the contributions of a disparate workforce of African American authors and students. She explores how black authors and folklorists have been energetic participants--rather than passive observers--in conversations concerning the politics of representing black folklore. reading literary texts, folklore records, and cultural performances, felony discourse, and political rhetoric, Black Folklore and the Politics of Racial illustration demonstrates how folklore reviews turned a battleground throughout which problems with racial identification and distinction have been asserted and debated on the flip of the 20 th century. The research is framed by means of questions of old and carrying on with import. What position have representations of black folklore performed in developing racial id? And, how have these rules impacted the best way African american citizens take into consideration and creatively have interaction black traditions? Moody-Turner renders validated ancient proof in a brand new mild and context, taking figures we concept we knew--such as Charles Chesnutt, Anna Julia Cooper, and paul Laurence Dunbar--and recasting their position in African American highbrow and cultural historical past" -- Read more...
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Additional info for Black folklore and the politics of racial representation
11 In each case, Newell sought to show that the search for national or racial origins was driven by political and ideological motives rather than by a scientiﬁc adherence to close and careful collection and analysis. Instead, he emphasized that the creation and transmission of folklore was the result of a complex process of diﬀusion that took place through the interaction between and among diﬀerent cultural groups. This approach, at least in theory, allowed Newell to counter the evolutionary origins model, which suggested groups moved linearly through stages of evolution based on their mental and biological inheritances, and that their advancement was evidenced in their cultural or technological productions.
Tracing the career of Jim Crow reveals how popular culture, folklore studies, constructions of the black folk, and social and political agendas all converged around turn-of-thecentury questions of racial identity and social order. The birth of Jim Crow, the stage character, has typically been traced to an 1828 blackface performance by Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice. Rice, a white actor from New York’s Seventh Ward on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, supposedly began “jumping Jim Crow” after a legendary encounter with Jim, the black stable hand.
In a journal purportedly devoted to the objective and scientiﬁc study of folklore, Newell saw ﬁt to publish Fortier’s submission containing so many assumptions sustaining the post-Reconstruction segregationist platform. Was this an oversight, or were the ideas that Fortier advanced, linking representations of folklore to the politics of the Plantation Tradition, so pervasive that they were published, evidently uncontested, in a journal devoted to the scientiﬁc study of Negro folklore? In a society fraught with racial tensions, it would be diﬃcult to overestimate the impact of the popular representations of the black folk, coupled Folklore and the Birth of Jim Crow 41 with the intellectual and “scientiﬁc” assessments of black folklore, on turnof-the-century racial politics.
Black folklore and the politics of racial representation by Shirley Moody-Turner