The Racial Politics of Division
Interethnic Struggles For Legitimacy in Multicultural Miami
Cornell University 2019
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Latino StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network June 22, 2020 Jonathan Cortez
Over recent years, scholarship centering Afrolatinidad has pushed the bounds of the field towards greater forms of racial and ethnic understanding. Dr. Monika Gosin’s monograph, The Racial Politics of Division: Interethnic Struggles For Legitimacy in Multicultural Miami (Cornell University, 2019), adds to this burgeoning literary canon.
By examining how controversial waves of Cuban immigration during the late 20th century intensified the friction between African Americans and the existing Cuban immigrant population in Miami, Gosin reveals how differing notions of “worthy citizenship” encouraged interethnic conflict.
Dr. Gosin’s The Politics of Division “forces a relooking at the poles of black and white as they operate in the lives of people who are phenotypically black” (20).
The author’s ability to hold and move between so many complex identities, histories, and frameworks is exemplary of the approach necessary to conduct relational research. Gosin’s communities of study include African American, white Cubans, Afro-Cubans, Haitians, and the ever-present looming structures of white supremacy both in the United States and Cuba.
Traversing between intersecting and transnational racial ideologies, the book highlights three racializing frames (black/white, good/bad immigrant, and native/foreigner) through which communities facilitated their own relationship of belonging to the US nation-state.
Gosin conducts extensive research in newspaper archives to understand how various racial and ethnic communities constructed media discourses about one another. She utilizes the archives of the Miami Times, an African American-owned and controlled paper, and El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language adaptation of the mainstream Miami Herald, to show the complexities of race, immigration, and citizenship.
Throughout the book, Dr. Gosin maintains a strong commitment to the presence and histories of Afro-Cubans in both the African-American and white Cuban controlled newspapers. She supplements this work with in-depth personal interviews with Afro-Cubans living in Miami and Los Angeles, which further adds a dynamic to the history of racial complexity in southern Florida.
As Gosin writes, “Examining how Afro-Cuban immigrants negotiate the intersections of blackness and Latinidad and rejections they sometimes face from other Latinos allows an important critique of the ways white supremacist notions have been embraced or perpetuated by nonblack Latinos” (191).
This call for a better understanding of the ways white supremacy has infiltrated thought processes — and scholarship — in non-black Latinx peoples and Latinx Studies is critical to the book’s goal.
The Racial Politics of Division is a book for those interested in race and race-making between non-white communities, how issues of racialization and immigration merge into sociopolitical consequences, and for students of (Afro)Latinx studies.
Monika Gosin is Associate Professor in Sociology at William & Mary.
Jonathan Cortez is a Ph.D. candidate of American Studies at Brown University. They are a historian of 20th-century issues of race, labor, (im)migration, surveillance, space, relational Ethnic Studies, and Latinx Studies. Their research focuses on the rise of federally-funded encampments (i.e., the concentration of populations) from the advent of the New Deal until post-WWII era. Their dissertation, “The Age of Encampment: Race, Surveillance, and the Power of Spatial Scripts, 1933-1950” reveals underlying continuities between the presence of threatening bodies and the increasing surveillance of these bodies in camps throughout the United States. Jonathan is currently a Ford Predoctoral Fellow as well as a curatorial assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @joncortz and on their personal website www.historiancortez.com
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