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Chapter Nine

Gregory Schwipps Indiana University Press ePub

By Sunday afternoon it was raining again. This time it came gently over the woods to the west of them, descending slowly like a down blanket being laid over a sleeping child. The rain fell on the leaves of the trees and each drop formed a soft rhythm, a million tiny heartbeats advancing through the woods. Frank cocked his ear to the open door of the barn and listened to its approach.

They always got a lot of rain in July—thunderstorms, mostly—but this summer felt more like a monsoon. He stood in the barn and watched the rain fall first on the garden, then the yard. It hammered the metal roof overhead. He’d been cleaning up the boat, and was about ready to stop anyway. Now he’d get wet on the way to the house. He shut off the lights and grabbed a piece of plywood to serve as an umbrella. With his cane in one hand and the other holding the plywood over his head, he walked out into the rain. He looked down at the wet grass and remembered how he would gather nightcrawlers for bait on rainy nights when he was a kid.

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2 Mourning, Burying, and Remembering the War Dead: How Communities Coped with the Memory of Wartime Violence, 1918–1940

Bucur-Deckard, Maria Indiana University Press PDF

50  Heroes and Victims

reconstructs the first attempts to deal with these losses at the local level, which is where the initial impact of coping with the dead in World War I took place.

By placing the story of these responses ahead of the discussion of how political elites attempted to capitalize on the massive deaths in World War I toward political ends, I want to accentuate the dialogical relationship between margins and the center in commemorative practices. My analysis questions the very centrality of what was happening in the capital, in large cities, and in the officially sanctioned commemorative practices linked to the war. Other historians, much like the cultural elites of the interwar period, have read the role of the government unproblematically as legitimate, rather than seeking legitimacy.2 A closer look at what took place in the interwar period in rural and community-based commemorative practices reveals divergence and a fluid, two-way communication between official and vernacular practices, with the capital often playing the role of catching up to the quick commemorative initiatives that sprouted up elsewhere after the war. This decentered narrative then helps question the significance and specific meaning of nationalist cultural practices as viewed from the center, describing official commemorations more as reactive rather than proactive phenomena in relation to community-based and individual cultural practices. What nationalism and heroism came to mean in the twentieth century can only be understood in this unstable context, which underscores the relative and often secondary significance of central political/state institutions vis-à-vis more locally relevant practices and traditions. In this chapter and the next, I lay the groundwork for what it meant to communities and individuals to deal with the massive deaths and traumatic experiences of the war. In chapter 4, I turn to the institutionalized means of commemorating World War I.

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2 - “The Historical Burden that Only Oprah can Bear”: African American Satirists and the State of the Literature

Edited by Lovalerie King and Shirley Moo Indiana University Press ePub


Deep within Paul Beatty's most recent novel, Slumberland (2008), the reader will find tucked neatly but auspiciously in a footnote the narrator's droll comment that around the time of the Berlin Wall's fall, Oprah Winfrey was “in the process of buying the rights to the life story of every black American born between 1642 and 1968 as a way of staking claim to being the legal and sole embodiment of the black experience from slavery to civil rights. Thus carrying the historical burden that only she has the strength to bear.”1 While we certainly have no proof that Ms. Winfrey has attempted to acquire any such rights, Beatty's footnote betrays two anxieties. The first regards Oprah Winfrey's real acquisition of film rights to or involvement in the adaptations of many revered or well-known African American literary texts, including Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place (1982), Sapphire's Push (1996), Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987), and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). Garnering mixed reviews, each of these productions has caused no small amount of controversy. The televised film of The Women of Brewster Place (broadcast in 1989), in which Winfrey played a starring role and for which she served as executive producer, simultaneously achieved considerable success and generated widespread criticism within African American communities for its depiction of black males in arguably limited or simplistic roles. Winfrey's production of the Jonathan Demme–directed Beloved (1998) suffered negative reviews for its more literal interpretation of the source material, while the televised Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005) shared the same fate for Winfrey's considerable deviances from the film's textual source. Beatty's novel emerged, of course, well before the production and release of Precious (2009), the adaptation of Push that Winfrey also coproduced, so he clearly could not anticipate that film's runaway critical and commercial success. Nevertheless, his novel reflects an apprehension that Oprah Winfrey tends to compromise the artistry of the works she adapts well beyond the necessary changes that television and media demand.

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3 Southward Road Narratives: How French Citizens Become Clandestine Immigrants in Algeria

Hakim Abderrezak Indiana University Press ePub

SOCIOLOGIST ZYGMUNT BAUMAN explains that globalization is about its effects on us versus our goals: “‘Globalization’ is not about what we all, or at least the most resourceful and enterprising among us, wish or hope to do. It is about what is happening to us all.”1 Thus, as the common vision goes, a distinction between rich countries and less rich ones has been made, encapsulated in the appellations global North and global South. The effects of globalization unfold in the daily lives of people in these two spaces. At the intersection of the pressures of the local and the global, the term glocal has been proposed to describe the connections and relationships between various types of local and global businesses, organizations, and processes. This term, coined by Roland Robertson in Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, is often used to refer to local ways of dealing with globalized practices and products. The glocal should not be understood in simple terms and binary divides, such as a glocal North and a glocal South but rather as a multifaceted process with numerous effects within these two regions.

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5 Rejecting Goldilocks: The Crisis of Normative White Beauty for Black Girls

David H. Ikard Indiana University Press ePub

I destroyed white baby dolls.

But the dismembering of dolls was not the true horror. The truly horrifying thing was the transference of the same impulses to little white girls. The indifference with which I could have axed them was shaken only by my desire to do so. To discover what eluded me: the secret of the magic they weaved on others. What made [even black] people look at them and say, “Awwwww,” but not for me?

Claudia in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Good hair means curls and waves /

Bad hair means you look like a slave

“I Am Not My Hair,” India Arie


It certainly started out innocently enough. My children’s elementary school was having a book parade to generate enthusiasm about reading. Each child was encouraged to come to school dressed as their favorite character in a book. My then nine-year-old son, Elijah, who had just recently finished a book report on Muhammad Ali, decided he wanted to dress as the iconic boxer and civil rights leader. My outspoken, feminist-minded, six-year-old daughter, Octavia, wanted to be Goldilocks from the classic story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Given the intense messages about normative white beauty that pervade our society and that I have personally witnessed shaking my daughter’s confidence in her African beauty and personhood, I was deeply troubled by my daughter’s choice. Indeed, prior to this moment I’d noticed a preoccupation on my daughter’s part with skin tone and hair texture. “You and Elijah are dark-skinned but mom and me are lighter,” she said one day out of the blue when we were at the park. “We’re all African Americans, baby girl,” I had responded and left the matter alone, hoping against hope, as the saying goes, that she had not already begun to internalize the colorist/white supremacist politics that still permeate our society. When shortly thereafter she made a comment about wishing she had hair like a white girl in her class, I realized there was more to the issue than I had first registered. This book parade issue, in fact, materialized right as Octavia’s mother and I were preparing to sit down with Octavia and discuss these issues of colorism, black beauty, and self-esteem. (We’d had a similar discussion with my son when he was around the same age.) Suffice it to say, her choice to dress as Goldilocks set off many red flags for me and I felt compelled, given her recent comments, to intervene. Instead of vetoing Octavia’s choice outright, I tried to engage her about the racial significance of her choice, to use this opportunity as a teaching moment. I asked, “Why do you want to be a blond-haired blue-eyed white girl? You have tons of books about smart and beautiful girls of color – why not choose to be one of them?” (We do not own Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by the way. I learned later that Octavia had borrowed a copy from the school library.)

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