Advertisement

Migration, Fragmentation, and Identity: Zora Neale Hurston’s Color Struck and the Geography of the Harlem Renaissance

  • David Krasner
Chapter
  • 72 Downloads

Abstract

Geography and migration played a key role in the description and formation of the Harlem Renaissance—New Negro era. The Great Migration, which began just prior to World War I and continued well after, had a profound effect both on the cities of the North and the southern, rural communities left behind. Indeed, during the 1910s, nearly half a million African Americans left the rural South for the urban North.3 Within a decade, more than three-quarters of a million would follow, increasing the black northern population from 1910 to 1930 by 300 percent. Swept up by what Alain Locke called the “wash and rush of this human tide on the beach line of the northern city center,” black people were rejecting the South’s history of racial violence and lynching, embracing the mass psychology underlying movement, escaping from poor rural farming, and seeking a better future.5

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Martin Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking,” (1954) in Poetry, Language, Thought, tr. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper Row, 1971), 154.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Donna Kate Rushin, “The Bridge Poem,” This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, ed. Cherrfe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldüa (New York: Kitchen Table, 1981, 1983), xxii.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For studies on the Great Migration see, for instance, Daniel M. Johnson and Rex R Campbell, Black Migration in America (Durham: Duke University Press, 1981)Google Scholar
  4. Alferdteen Harrison, ed., Black Exodus: The Great Migration from the American South (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1991)Google Scholar
  5. Joe William Trotter, Jr., ed., The Great Migration in Historical Perspective (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    See, James R Grossman, “A Chance to Make Good, 1900–1929,” To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans, ed. Robin D. G. Kelley and Earl Lewis (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 386.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Alain Locke, “Harlem,” Survey Graphic 6.6 (March 1925), 629.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Hazel Carby, “The Politics of Fiction, Anthropology, and the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston,” in New Essays on Their Eyes Were Watching God, ed. Michael Awkward (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 75.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Crispin Sartwell, Act Like You Know: African-American Autobiography and White Identity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Barbara Johnson, “Metaphor, Metonymy, and Voice in Their Eyes Were Watching God” in A World of Difference (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1987), 159.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See, for instance, Deborah A. Gordon, “The Politics of Ethnographic Authority: Race and Writing in the Ethnography of Margaret Mead and Zora Neale Hurston,” in Modernist Anthropology: From Fieldwork to Text, ed. Marc Manganaro (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 146–62Google Scholar
  12. Graciela Hernandez, “Multiple Subjectivities and Strategic Positionality: Zora Neale Hurston’s Experimental Ethnographies,” in Women Writing Culture, ed. Ruth Behar and Deborah A. Gordon (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 148–165Google Scholar
  13. Gwendolyn Mikell, “The Anthropological Imagination of Zora Neale Hurston,” Western Journal of Black Studies 7.1 (1983), 27–35.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    Franz Boas, “The Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology,” Science 4 (1896), 905Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Lee D. Baker, From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896–1954 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 162.Google Scholar
  16. Mary Katherine Wain-wright, “The Aesthetics of Community: The Insular Black Community as Theme and Focus in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God,” in The Harlem Renaissance: Réévaluations, ed. Amritjit et al. (New York: Garland, 1989), 233–43Google Scholar
  17. bell hooks, “Saving Black Folk Culture,” in Yearnings: race, gender, and cultural politics (Boston: South End Press, 1990), 136Google Scholar
  18. Alice Gambrell, Women Intellectuals, Modernism, and Difference: Transatlantic Culture, 1919–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 115.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Robert E. Hemenway, Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980), 63.Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    Pearlie Mae Fisher Peters, The Assertive Woman in Zora Neal Hurston’s Fiction, Folklore, and Drama (New York: Garland, 1998), 26.Google Scholar
  21. Warren J. Carson, “Hurston as Dramatist: The Florida Connection,” in Zora in Florida, ed. Steve Glassman and Kathryn Lee Seidal (Orlando: University of Central Florida Press, 1991), 123–124Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Fracks on a Road (1942; reprint, New York: Harper, 1995), 184.Google Scholar
  23. 27.
    Sandra L. Richards, “Writing the Absent Potential: Drama, Performance, and the Canon of African-American Literature,” in Performativity and Performance, ed. Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (New York: Routledge, 1995), 77.Google Scholar
  24. 30.
    Under the influence of white patron Charlotte Osgood Mason, many African American artists, musicians, and writers were encouraged to indulge in what Mason called their “innate primitivism.” However, it was not until 1927 that Hurston formally met Mason, at which time she offered to subsidize Hurston’s research trip to Eatonville. See Lillie P Howard, Zora Neale Hurston (Boston: Twayne, 1980), 22–25.Google Scholar
  25. 33.
    Alain Locke, “Fire: A Negro Magazine,” The Survey Graphic 58.10-12 (15 Au-gust-15 September 1927), 563.Google Scholar
  26. 35.
    Anthea Kraut, “Reclaiming the Body: Representations of Black Dance in Three Plays by Zora Neale Hurston,” Theatre Studies 43 (1998), 30.Google Scholar
  27. 36.
    For a social history of the cakewalk, see David Krasner, “Rewriting the Body: Ada Overton Walker and the Social Formation of Cakewalking,” Theatre Survey 37.2 (November 1996), 67–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 37.
    Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language and Twentieth-Century Litera-ture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 176Google Scholar
  29. Nina Miller, Making Love Modern: The Intimate Public Worlds of New York’s Literary Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)Google Scholar
  30. 38.
    Toni Morrison, “Afterword,” The Bluest Eye (New York: Plum, 1994), 210.Google Scholar
  31. 48.
    Carole Boyce Davies, Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migration of the Subject (London: Routledge, 1994), 47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 49.
    For illuminating discussions of women and migration narratives, see Farah Jasmine Griffin, “Who Set You Flowin’?”: The African-American Migration Narrative (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sandra Gunning, “Nance Prince and the Politics of Mobility, Home and Diasporic (Mis) Identification,” American Quarterly 53.1 (March 2001), 32–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 50.
    James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cam-bridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 32.Google Scholar
  35. 51.
    Houston A. Baker, Jr., Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular The-ory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 200Google Scholar
  36. 52.
    Hazel Carby, “‘It Jus Be’s Dat Way Sometime’: The Sexual Politics of Women’s Blues,” in Unequal Sisters: A Multi-Cultural Reader in U.S. Women’s History, ed. Vicki L. Ruiz and Ellen Carol DuBois (New York: Routledge, 1994), 334.Google Scholar
  37. 53.
    Edward Said, “Minds in Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile,” Harper’s Magazine 269 (September 1984), 51.Google Scholar
  38. 54.
    Una Chaudhuri, Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama (Ann Arbor: Univer-sity of Michigan Press, 1997), 13.Google Scholar
  39. 57.
    Marita O. Bonner, “On Being Young-A Woman — and Colored,” Crisis 31.2 (December 1925), 64.Google Scholar
  40. 59.
    Juliana Schiesari, The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), 3–4Google Scholar
  41. 60.
    Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Ferror, Sbvery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 108.Google Scholar
  42. 61.
    Claudia Tate, Psychoanalysis and Black Novels: Desire and the Protocols of Race (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 13.Google Scholar
  43. 62.
    Julia Kristeva, Black Sun: Depression and Mebncholia, tr. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), 128.Google Scholar
  44. 64.
    Susan Willis, Specifying: Black Women Writing the American Experience (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 36.Google Scholar
  45. 69.
    For a study of African American women’s relationship to beauty, hair, and especially the history of Madam C. J. Walker, the entrepreneurial business leader who developed an empire of beauty products (ca. 1905 to 1919), see Noliwe M. Rooks, Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture, and African American Women (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  46. 72.
    For discussions on silence, see Peter Hitchcock, Dialogics of the Oppressed (Min-neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993)Google Scholar
  47. Bernard P. Dauenhauer, Silence: The Phenomenon and Its Ontological Significance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Krasner 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Krasner

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations