The Culture of Distance: Rethinking Black Ethnic Relations /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Medford, Marcelle Mandisa, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2017
Description:1 electronic resource (187 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Omar McRoberts Committee members: Roberto Gonzales; Wendy Griswold; Tianna Paschel.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:The sociology of immigration has approached the study of black immigrants in a comparative framework that almost exclusively analyzes them in relation to African Americans. As a result, we know little about black immigrant culture beyond the social distancing paradigm. Drawing on studies of immigration, race, and ethnic entrepreneurship, my dissertation approaches black immigrant culture as an open question. I ask, "What are black immigrants doing when they index their ethnicity?" This multi-sited ethnography of Jamaican immigrant cultural organizations---an Afro-Caribbean Festival and Cricket Club---in the Midwest examines (1) what cultural objects emerge as significant entities for immigrant group members to organize around; and (2) how they use these objects to mediate inter and intra ethnic social relations. I traced the use of Jamaican cultural objects, from the tents of festival vendors to social gatherings in public parks, to show the ways that black immigrants perform their cultural authenticity across a number of stages. Instead of distancing from African Americans, I found many of the Jamaicans in my study distinguished themselves from their co-nationals. They were more concerned with being a certain type of Jamaican---in these cases either respectable or politically conscious. Jamaican members in the cricket club hoped that by abstaining from vulgarity and obeying an honor code they would be received as respectable. Whereas Jamaican vendors at the Caribbean festival reveled in the music, philosophy, and Rastafarian religion of Pan-Africanism. By mapping the range of cultural performances that Jamaicans deploy across sites I can delineate the work culture is doing---social distancing, social bridging, or something else altogether. In each case, we can see that immigrant culture cannot be flattened out and reduced to either national, pan-ethnic, or racial identities but are textured by the complex relationship between lived experiences and cultural decisions.