With a booming economy that afforded numerous opportunities for immigrants throughout the 1990s, the Twin Cities area has attracted people of African descent from throughout the United States and the world and is fast becoming a transnational metropolis. Minnesota's largest urban area, the region now also has the country's most diverse black population. A closely drawn ethnography, Creating Africa in America: Translocal Identity in an Emerging World City seeks to understand and evaluate the process of identity formation in the context of globalization in a way that is also site specific.
Bringing to this study a rich and interesting professional history and expertise, Jacqueline Copeland-Carson focuses on a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, the Cultural Wellness Center, which combines different ethnic approaches to bodily health and community well-being as the basis for a shared, translocal "African" culture. The book explores how the body can become a surrogate locus for identity, thus displacing territory as the key referent for organizing and experiencing African diasporan diversity. Showing how alternatives are created to mainstream majority and Afrocentric approaches to identity, she addresses the way that bridges can be built in the African diaspora among different African immigrant, African American, and other groups.
As this thoughtful and compassionate ethnographic study shows, the fact that there is no simple and concrete way to define how one can be African in contemporary America reflects the tangled nature of cultural processes and social relations at large. Copeland-Carson demonstrates the cultural creativity and social dexterity of people living in an urban setting, and suggests that anthropologists give more attention to the role of the nonprofit sector as a forum for creating community and identity throughout African diasporan history in the United States.
Jacqueline Copeland-Carson is a senior fellow with the Roy Wilkins Center of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Preface: On Life Betwixt and Between Prologue to a Diasporan Journey PART I REIMAGINING NORTH AMERICA'S AFRICAN DIASPORA 1. "Africa" in Minnesota 2. Ethnographic Grounding PART II ACROSS DIASPORAN SPACE/TIME:WHO IS "AFRICAN" IN A GLOBAL ECUMENE? 3. "Three Parts African": Blood, Heart, Skin, and Memory 4. Organizing Across Diasporan Crosscurrents 5. The African Body Resistant PART III CREATING "AFRICA": A STATE OF MIND/BODY/SPIRIT 6. Healing the Mind: Embodying an African Epistemology 7. Healing the Body: Reactivating the African Habitus 8. Healing the Spirit: Embodying an African Historicity Epilogue to a Diasporan Journey Appendix A: Research Design, Methods, and Documents: Cultural Wellness Center Appendix B: CWC and Powderhorn Photographs, by Bruce Silcox Notes Bibliography Index