AAS 207 - Kinfolks in the African Diaspora
Families are complex patchworks of relationships cooperatively stitched, collectively appreciated, yet crafted for difficult times. When it comes to the families created by African-descended peoples in the Americas in the wake of social disruption, enslavement, and ongoing socio-economic marginalization, this proves particularly relevant. This course surveys major 20th and 21st century depictions of New World African families and their underlying tensions - cultural continuity and disruption; gender and power; nuclear family versus other modes of family organization; and family disorganization and resilience. Yet in highlighting the interface of social scientific knowledge and social policy, our examination of relatedness moves beyond the descriptive into the political. Students will be asked to think about how analytical discourses about Afro-diasporic families can be appropriated by politicized debates of “Black” normality and pathology. With a keen attention to the lived experiences of family life, this course also traces how family relationships and ideals inform the migrations and diasporic subjectivities of Afro-Americans/ Caribbeans/ Latinos. How do notions of family responsibility and love inform migration and cement family ties? How do personal ideas of relatedness influence New World Africans’ conceptions of race, place, and entitlement? Through the usage of theoretical texts, ethnographies, and selected family memoirs, this class challenges students to understand the complexities of Afro-diasporic families and to confront their own ideological assumptions about what family is and should be.