CAA2015

BUILDING A MULTIRACIAL AMERICAN PAST

Chair: Susanna Gold, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

The dynamics of mixed race heritage has long been a stable point of inquiry in historical American literature, music, theater, politics and speech, but this issue has been thought to emerge less often in visual culture.  There are very few examples of American art that follow the tradition of 18th-century Mexican and Peruvian casta paintings illustrating the practice and results of mestizaje, the mixing of distinct categories of peoples and the development of new peoples.  But are American images of multiracialism truly rare, or is the art historical scholarship limited because there lacks a clear academic understanding of which images can be understood to address mixed race heritage?  Is there a cultural tendency for scholars to classify figures in American art according to an overly determinate white/non white dichotomy, which avoids the relevance of a shared, divided, or indistinct racial ancestry?  This session invites papers that enlarge the art historical scholarship on race mixing, and provide new possibilities for recognizing and analyzing how complexities of a multiracial heritage affected identity construction and found expression in visual imagery.

Panelists

  • Mey-Yen Moriuchi, La Salle University; The Drop Sinister: Harry Watrous’s Visualization of the ‘One Drop Rule’

  • Shana Klein, University of New Mexico; You Are What You Eat: Racial Transformation and Miscegenation in Nineteenth-Century Representations of Food

  • Elizabeth W. Hutchinson, Barnard College, Columbia University; ‘Half-Breed’: Picturing Native American Identity in the Early Nineteenth Century

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