Title"Free men name themselves"
NamePilgrim, Aminah Nailah (author), Lewis, David (chair), Butler, Kim (internal member), Bennett, Herman (internal member), Watkins-Owens, Irma (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Cape Verdean Americans--Massachusetts--History,
DescriptionThis project is about what it has meant to be "black" in twentieth century New England for immigrants from the African Diaspora. In this study, I document the experiences of Cape Verdeans in Massachusetts with brief comparative references to Caribbean immigrants. Specifically, their notions of identity and responses to US socio-cultural beliefs regarding race and immigration are examined during the period 1900-1980. I argue that the consistent choice of most Cape Verdean immigrants to reject the US racial binary by defining themselves as exactly "Cape Verdean" versus "black" or "white" represented a form of strategic resistance--both informal and organized--to both the colonial forces in their homeland and the racist and nativist impulses in their new home abroad. Their choices stood in sharp contrast to the overwhelmingly popular choice of most Caribbeans who for the most part adhered to the Garvey-inspired Black Nationalist strategies of racial protest reflecting differences in the two sets of immigrants' colonial pasts and ideological influences. Practical differences in terms of class, language, phenotype, literacy and culture--i.e. religion also helped shape these foreigners' responses and their attendant identity politics. The dissertation is grounded in traditional African-American history and historiographical arguments as well as African Diaspora theory. As members of overlapping diasporas, Cape Verdean immigrants' inability to choose either one identity or another stemmed from the fact that their heritage reflected a m�lange of influences, both African and European, simultaneously interacting in the form of multiple, interlocked subjectivities. Within the realm of these overlapping diasporas, the construct of race was not the penultimate marker of one's identity; rather, in keeping with African tradition, one's identity was shaped more by family name or clan. The varied choices made by Cape Verdean and Caribbean immigrants regarding racial affiliation reflects the diversity of experiences in the African Diaspora and within the so-called "black" population of the United States. Thus telling this history represents a challenge to African-American essentialism and pushes the boundaries of African-American history to include little known ethnic groups of people of African descent like the Cape Verdeans of the New England region.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 148-158)
Noteby Aminah Nailah Pilgrim
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.