News & Events & Meetings

Tuesday, March 24th, 7pm

Poetry Reading: Josh Kalscheur & Keith Leonard



Josh Kalscheur's first collection of poetry, Tidal, won the 2013 Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry. His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Boston Review, Slate, The Iowa Review and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Tidal focuses on Chuuk State, a group of islands that are a part of the Federated States of Micronesia. This focus encompasses Micronesia’s morality, its taboos and myths and how information and stories disseminate between villages, social groups, ethnicities, classes, and genders. Using persona, these poems explore and challenge the idea of witness.


Saturday, April 4th, 3:00-4:30pm

Reading: Cara Caddoo & Dina Okamoto



CARA CADDOO is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

DINA G. OKAMOTO is a associate professor of sociology and director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society at Indiana University.

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Viewing turn-of-the century African American history through the lens of cinema, Envisioning Freedom examines the forgotten history of early black film exhibition during the era of mass migration and Jim Crow. By embracing the new medium of moving pictures at the turn of the twentieth century, black Americans forged a collective—if fraught—culture of freedom.

In Cara Caddoo’s perspective-changing study, African Americans emerge as pioneers of cinema from the 1890s to the 1920s. Across the South and Midwest, moving pictures presented in churches, lodges, and schools raised money and created shared social experiences for black urban communities. As migrants moved northward, bound for Chicago and New York, cinema moved with them. Along these routes, ministers and reformers, preaching messages of racial uplift, used moving pictures as an enticement to attract followers.

But as it gained popularity, black cinema also became controversial. Facing a losing competition with movie houses, once-supportive ministers denounced the evils of the “colored theater.” Onscreen images sparked arguments over black identity and the meaning of freedom. In 1910, when boxing champion Jack Johnson became the world’s first black movie star, representation in film vaulted to the center of black concerns about racial progress. Black leaders demanded self-representation and an end to cinematic mischaracterizations which, they charged, violated the civil rights of African Americans. In 1915, these ideas both led to the creation of an industry that produced “race films” by and for black audiences and sparked the first mass black protest movement of the twentieth century.

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In 2012, the Pew Research Center issued a report that named Asian Americans as the “highest-income, best-educated, and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.” Despite this optimistic conclusion, over thirty Asian American advocacy groups challenged the findings, noting that the term “Asian American” is complicated. It includes a wide range of ethnicities, national origins, and languages, and encompasses groups that differ greatly in their economic and social status. In Redefining Race, sociologist Dina G. Okamoto traces the complex evolution of “Asian American” as a panethnic label and identity, emphasizing how it is a deliberate social achievement negotiated by group members, rather than an organic and inevitable process.

Drawing on original research and a series of interviews, Okamoto investigates how different Asian ethnic groups created this collective identity in the wake of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Okamoto documents the social forces that encouraged the development of this panethnic identity. The racial segregation of Asians in similar occupations and industries, for example, produced a shared experience of racial discrimination, which led Asians of different national origins to develop shared interests and identities. By constructing a panethnic label and identity, ethnic group members created their own collective histories, and in the process challenged and redefined current notions of race.

The emergence of a panethnic racial identity also depended, somewhat paradoxically, on different groups organizing along distinct ethnic lines to gain recognition and rights from the larger society. According to Okamoto, ethnic organizations provided the foundation necessary to build solidarity within different Asian-origin communities. Leaders and community members who created inclusive narratives and advocated policies that benefited groups beyond their own moved their discrete ethnic organizations toward a panethnic model. For example, a number of ethnic-specific organizations in San Francisco expanded their services and programs to include other ethnic group members after their original constituencies dwindled in size or assimilated. A Laotian organization included refugees from different parts of Asia, a Japanese organization began to advocate for South Asian populations, and a Chinese organization opened its doors to Filipinos and Vietnamese. As Okamoto shows, the process of building ties between ethnic communities while also recognizing ethnic diversity is the hallmark of panethnicity.

Redefining Race is a groundbreaking analysis of the processes through which group boundaries are drawn and contested. In mapping the genesis of a panethnic Asian American identity, Okamoto illustrates the ways in which concepts of race continue to shape how ethnic and immigrant groups view themselves and organize for representation in the public arena.

 





The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project now meets inside of Boxcar Books at 408 E 6th St.

Visit: www.pagestoprisoners.org or email: mwpp@pagestoprisoners.org
Book and monetary donations can be dropped off during Boxcar Books' open hours.

Mondays: 6-9pm The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project

Tuesdays: 12-3pm The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project

Wednesdays: 3-6pm The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project

Thursdays 6-9pm The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project

Sundays 2-5pm The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project

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