Seminar: Stigma and Culture. Ethnological Schadenfreude and Last-Place Anxiety in Black America

“Ethnological Schadenfreude” is the pursuit of contrast from and superiority to another population. It is a major mechanism in the articulation of “cultures” by the discreditable populations—i.e., groups that are not powerful enough to escape being marked as “ethnic” or “racial” groups. A major mechanism of consent to the sovereignty of ethnically and racially unmarked populations is the continual endeavor of ethno-racially marked populations to avoid last place by both emphasizing their difference from the “constituent other.” Conversely, a major idiom of dissent is the imitation of (normally stereotyped images of) the constituent other. Stigma and Culture documents  among African-descended immigrants and regional ethnic groups in the United States—including African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants, Gullah/Geechees, American Indians of partly African descent, and Louisiana Creoles of color, who must either resist the system by re-defining Blackness or, the more common solution, by dramatizing their radical “cultural” difference from America’s prototypical constituent other, the African American.

Read the speaker's chapter on African immigrants.

J.Lorand MatoryJ. Lorand Matory is the Director of the Center for African and African American Research at Duke University, where he is also the Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology. For the prior eighteen years, he had served a Professor of Anthropology and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He has conducted intensive field research in Brazil, Nigeria, Benin Republic, Trinidad, Jamaica and the US. 

Choice magazine named his Sex and the Empire That Is No More: Gender and the Politics of Metaphor in Oyo Yoruba Religion an Outstanding Book of the Year in 1994, and his Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé received the Herskovits Prize for the best book of 2005 from the African Studies Association. In 2010, he received the Distinguished Africanist Award from the American Anthropological Association.

He is the author of over 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals or edited volumes. In 2008, Professor Matory delivered the Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures, which will be published under the title Stigma and Culture: Ethnological Schadenfreude and Last-Place Anxiety in Black America (forthcoming from University of Chicago Press). With the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize, he is currently at the Lateinamerika-Institut of the Freie Universität Berlin, where he has written a second manuscript, Marx, Freud and the Gods People Make in the Black Atlantic: the Real-Life “Fetish” in the Making, and the Critique, of European Theory. Both manuscripts is currently under review for publication.

Date, time and location

25 November 2014
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 3A06

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