This upcoming Monday is the final meeting of NYAS’ anthropology section at WGF for this season. We will be welcoming Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas of Baruch College, CUNY and Edgar Rivera Colon of Columbia University to discuss Cartography of “Racial Democracy”: Race, Affect, and the Production of Abject Subjects among Brazilians and Puerto Ricans in Newark.
In this presentation I consider the kinds of affective social entanglements and emotive practices required of US-born Latinos and Latin American migrants as they “learn race” in the US By focusing on the experiences of Brazilian and Puerto Ricans in Newark, I examine the impact of US racial projects on transnational individual’s affective worlds and perspectives on the emotional subjectivities of the racialized others they encounter. As demonstrated through ethnographic materials drawn from nearly a decade of fieldwork, Brazilian immigrants and US-born Puerto Ricans in Newark analyze unfamiliar racial situations through quotidian emotional epistemologies that serve as a cartography to navigate otherwise illegible social encounters. Assumptions about affect and its adequate expression guide Brazilian migrants and US Puerto Ricans to developed nuanced interpretations of how one “should feel” when the goal is to create an affective persona that is consistent with Newark’s neoliberal aspirations. Informed by transnational racial ideologies of “racial democracy,” my interlocutors develop complex social practices around performances of Blackness, understandings of socioeconomic hierarchies, and expectations of belonging on multiple scales, like the neighborhood, nation state, and the market. I am particularly attentive to how engaging in this process of “learning race” renders Brazilians and Puerto Ricans “street therapists” dedicated to observing and correcting “defective” (non-marketable) forms of Blackness, developing appropriate feeling rules, and, hesitantly embracing a neoliberal personhood.
The 7:00 PM lecture will be held at the WGF office on Park Avenue and will be preceded by a reception at 6:00 PM. Refreshments will be provided. It is free to attend this and all other events in this series, but registration is required in advance; please visit the NYAS website or call 212-298-8600.