Jana Evans Braziel, Assistant Professor
229B Mc Micken Hall
Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0069
Office # (513) 556-0834
Fax # (513) 556-5960
DIRECTIONS: PART ONE -- Will a volunteer please read the following two paragraphs and ask students to write a response to the ideas (regarding immigrants, race, racism) in relation to Dany Laferrière's Drifting Year. To be turned in on Tuesday, January 11. PART TWO -- Divide into three groups and debate the discussion questions that probe the representations of race, sexuality, stereotypes, and representations of foreigners in Dany Laferrière's Drifting Year? Please select a group leader for each group; this person will lead discussion, facilitate the understanding of divergent ideas, and report group ideas on Tuesday.
NOTES: To All Students: Please keep the final drafts of Paper #1 and turn in on Tuesday, January 11. To Frances: will you defer presenting until Tuesday, January 11, as I will be present then?
Drifting Year (by Dany Laferrière)
PART ONE -- WRITTEN REPONSE
Issues of citizenship, immigration, migration and ëforeignessí are often imbued with the socio-cultural constructions of ëgoodí and ëevilí by a particular society. Societies often scapegoat immigrants for a number of societal ills unrelated to the migrant populations in a specific geographical areas, issues such as unemployment and economic recession. Also, differences (of language, race, religion) between the migrant populations and the mainstream citizens exacerbate cultural misunderstanding.
Thomas Holt argues that racism is created and circulated in ëeverydayí social activities and that through these micro-political interactions, "racist ideas and practices are naturalized, made self-evident, and thus seemingly beyond audible challenge. It is at this level that race is reproduced long after its original historical stimulus . . . has faded" [T.C. Holt, "Marking: Race, Race-making and the Writing of History," American Historical Review 100, 1 (February 1995) 1-20; qtd. by McMaster].
PART TWO -- GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
Stereotypes and Cultural Constructions of "Foreigners" -- In what ways does Laferrière's characterization of the 'black man', the Indian, and women in his autobiographical narrative Drifting Year resist racist stereotypes? How, if at all, does it repeat racist stereotypes? Explain; bolster your answer with specific quotes and/or examples from the text.
Stereotypes and Cultural Constructions of "Foreigners" II - Why does Laferrière cast two of the major protagonists simply as the 'black man' (himself) and the 'Indian'? How do these characterizations emphasize the cultural, political and social conflicts surrounding a nation and its immigrants?
Racism and Immigration -- Where, in Drifting Year, do we see critiques of racism, anti-immigrant sentiments and cultural misperceptions of "foreigners"?
Race-Sex -- How are racial stereotypes configured in the text? How are race and sex mutually constituting categories in the text? How are these categories culturally determined? How does Laferrière deploy socio-cultural constructions of race in Drifting Year? How does Laferrière deploy socio-cultural constructions of sex in Drifting Year?
Race-Sex II -- How does Laferrière embody stereotypes about 'black male sexuality'? How do his textual embodiments of 'black male sexuality' resist such stereotypes? Are Laferrière's constructions of race and sexuality configured according to masculinist and heterosexist norms? Or can his deployments of race-sex be read as deconstructive or parodic?
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