Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged colonialism

Indigenous Writings from the Convent: Negotiating Ethnic Autonomy in Colonial Mexico

After the Spanish invasion of Mexico, the invaders converted the existing noble class of Indians to Catholicism so that the church could regulate the lives of its subjects and help the Spanish colonial administration. The noble class in colonial Mexico had special status and though never equal to the Spanish, they sometimes allied with them against the indigenous people. The nobles wanted to maintain their status and property, they had education and language, and the Spanish wanted to use them as intermediaries to govern the natives. Women lost power and authority under Spanish rule, but noble women tried to maintain their place, at least in the convent.

White Material

The title of this grave work derives from Black African slang for Whites and for the objects Whites own, e.g., a gold cigarette lighter (an important symbolic prop in the film). Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) is the main white material here, a middle-aged woman trapped by the colonial past and present civil war in an unnamed African country.

Written on the Body of The Erasable Woman

When did you start writing poetry? At a very young age—probably when I started writing with chalk on my bathroom door or adding my own two cents to my parents’ biology textbooks they tell me I always furiously flipped through. I experienced a lot of racism, (hetero)sexism, and different kinds of regulation at a young age too, and I think what that did was make me really quiet and closed up in a lot of ways.

Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects

Christina Sharpe’s work Monstrous Intimacies is concerned with reading how the Euro-American and African-American post-slavery subjects are constructed. An academic text, and at times quite dense with analysis, this work will be of interest mostly to academics working in the fields of critical race theory, post-colonial theory, or literary and cultural theory.

Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism Between Women in Caribbean Literature

Tinsley’s fascinating study of “women loving women” examines their colonial and postcolonial experiences in Dutch, French, and English-speaking areas of the Caribbean. This volume, in the Perverse Modernities series by Duke University Press, takes its title from the writing of Trinidad-born poet-novelist Dionne Brand, whose cane-cutter character Elizete uses the phrase “thiefing sugar” to describe her feelings for another woman, Verlia.

A Man’s A Man

If playwright Bertolt Brecht were alive today, he’d likely blanch at the contemporary tendency to seek common ground with those whose ideologies are diametrically opposed to one’s own. His dozens of plays speak truth to power in daring, direct language and, while farce and sarcasm are employed, his repeated denunciations of colonialism, war, and militarism are boldly presented. A Man’s a Man (sometimes called Man Equals Man) was first staged in Dusseldorf and Darmstadt, Germany in 1926. Eighty-four years later, The Phoenix Theatre Ensemble’s beautifully-presented staged reading of the play is so relevant that the audience quickly forgets the age of the work.


Award-winning filmmakers Jessica Hope Woodworth and Peter Brosens come together again to make the visually stunning Altiplano. Shot primarily in the mountains of Peru, Altiplano tells the story of two women: Grace, an ex-war photographer from Belgium, and Saturnina, a woman about to be married in the village of Turubamba, high in the Andes. The main narrative strain in the film is the story of Saturnina’s village as it interacts with the Belgian miners, who are mining for gold in the Andes, and the Belgian doctors who run a cataract clinic. Tensions around the gringos increases as the people of Turumbamba begin to suffer from mercury poisoning, which Saturnina connects to the miners.

Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission, Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812-1960

A great deal of important criticism has emerged recently in the area of women’s contributions to the history of evangelical Christianity, and this collection brings together some of the scholars largely responsible for this upsurge in interest.

Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity

Pavan K. Varma’s most recent book, Becoming Indian, argues that cultural freedom has eluded formerly colonized nations, specifically India. He sees a need for a cultural revolution in India. Although it reads at times like an extended opinion piece, Varma makes convincing arguments highlighting the importance of reclaiming language, architecture, and art in a way that empowers indigenous knowledge rather than oppressing it.

Family, Gender, and Law in a Globalizing Middle East and South Asia

Family, Gender, and Law in a Globalizing Middle East and South Asia makes available twelve essays that were presented, in earlier forms, at the 2004 symposium of the same title, which took place at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The essays, edited by Kenneth M. Cuno and Manisha Desai, include analysis of eleven nation-states from Morocco to Bangladesh.

"If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die": How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor

In 1999, twenty-four years after the original invasion and occupation by Indonesia into the former Portuguese colony, 1,500 East Timorese were killed after a referendum in which the majority voted in favor of independence. Under the Indonesian occupation, hundreds of thousands of East Timorese had already been murdered, debatably, as an act of genocide. That independence was desirable was obvious, yet Indonesian paramilitary groups worked with oppressive diligence to incite fear into hopeful hearts after the country’s landmark referendum.

Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization

In Multidirectional Memory, Michael Rothberg offers an alternative to competitive memory, or the idea that the capacity to remember historical injustices is limited and that any attention to one injustice diminishes our capacity to memorialize another. Rothberg also disputes the idea that comparisons between atrocities erase differences between them and imply a false equivalence.

Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman’s Journey Toward Independence

A collection of one novella and a handful of short stories, Year in the Elephant is a translation from Arabic that does a great job of painting life in Morocco prior to and after independence from the French colonial power.

Anna In-Between

The premise of Anna In-Between is simple: Anna Sinclair, a thirty-nine-year-old editor at a big book publishing company in New York City returns to the (unnamed) Caribbean nation where she was born and raised in order to visit her parents, Beatrice and John Sinclair. While there, she learns her mother has advanced breast cancer, but refuses to go to the United States, which has better hospitals and equipment, for the operation that could save her life.

The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman

The Blue Tattoo tells the story of Olive Oatman, a nineteenth century woman with an unusual life. In 1851, Oatman was violently abducted along with her younger sister by Yavapais after watching this group of Native Americans brutally slaughter the rest of her family.

District 9

In 1982 an alien spacecraft descends into the Earth’s stratosphere and hovers for months over Johannesburg, South Africa. Humans, alternately fearing that the aliens are hostile and hoping that they are harbingers of technological advances, board the ship. They are disappointed to discover that the aliens are neither, being nothing more than incredibly ill and malnourished refugees from a distant planet. Human governments around the world provide aid for the aliens while they bicker over what to do with them.

Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society

Institutional racism: we all know it exists, yet many deny it does. In this book, Sherene Razack, author of Looking White People in the Eye, edits a set of deeply disturbing accounts of racially-motivated public policies and resultant public consciousness in North America.

What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq

March 20, 2009 marked the six-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Although the half a dozen years of occupation must seem like an extended nightmare from which Iraqis are anxious to awake, for many young Americans an occupied Iraq is the only Iraq they have ever known. This is precisely why Nadje Al-Ali and Nicola Pratt’s research could not have come at a better time.

AsiaPacifiQueer: Rethinking Genders and Sexualities

Aside from a women’s studies class I took as an undergraduate, of which I remember very little, thoughts on gender and sexuality typically have not taken up much of my time. AsiaPacifiQueer: Rethinking Genders and Sexualities totally changed my perception on these subjects. As a self-proclaimed tomboy, who happens not to be a lesbian, society is much more accepting of my “ways” than they would be if I were an effeminate man.

On Their Own: Women Journalists and the American Experience in Vietnam

Joyce Hoffman read a book about journalists who reported on American involvement in Vietnam in the sixties and wondered to herself, “Where are the women?” Considering that she holds a Ph.D. in American Studies, a job teaching journalism to college students, and pens a biweekly op-ed column about journalism accuracy and fairness issues, it was not unlikely that she would write the book that would answer that question.

Night of Sorrows

If you only knew the basic plot of Frances Sherwood’s Night of Sorrows, you might think it was a novel set in the 21st century. It’s a story about an invasion done in the name of a higher good with an ulterior motive of wealth. And it’s hard to tell who the good guys are because both sides are nowhere close to being saints. But this isn’t a story about America’s invasion of Iraq, Middle East terrorism, oil or the altruistic spread of democracy.

Captain of the Sleepers

Captain of the Sleepers is a tropical story of secrets and conflicts: familial, sexual, social, political, all intricately tangled up together in the Caribbean islands. It proceeds along parallel timelines, unfolding in the present day and in the 1940s and '50s, switching narrators at times, evoking disturbing events in which North American expatriates, tourists and Marines play key roles.

Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work

Five thousand words, much less the 500 allowed here, are insufficient to review critically and appreciate properly a reference work this exciting, valuable, unique and scrupulously edited. Into two sturdy, attractive-looking and easy-to-use volumes, Melissa Hope Ditmore has assembled 341 entries from 179 experts from fields and perspectives as disparate as criminal justice and sex worker activism, pop culture studies and Asian history, musicology and English literature, cinematic studies and international health, and performance art and social services.


This inspirational memoir traces the life of an extraordinary woman. Wangari Maathai was born in 1940 in a small Kikuyu community in Kenya. Throughout the memoir we watch Maathai’s life change and progress alongside Kenyan society. The memoir unfolds with stories of Kikuyu traditions and beliefs as a young Maathai plants crops alongside her mother.