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Navigating the African Diaspora

The Anthropology of Invisibility

2010
Author:

Donald Martin Carter

Navigating the African Diaspora

Diaspora seen through the lenses of political economy and cultural production

Investigating how the fraught political economy of migration impacts people around the world, Donald Martin Carter raises important issues about contemporary African diasporic movements. Developing the notion of the anthropology of invisibility, he explores the trope of navigation in social theory intent on understanding the lived experiences of transnational migrants.

Donald Martin Carter’s ethnographic research among Senegalese living and working in Italy represents a fine contemporary example of African American diaspora scholarship coming into its own, confronting and breaking out of the constraining perspective of U.S. exceptionalism. In Navigating the African Diaspora, Carter urges us to think about diasporic journeys and sojourns not as temporary conditions but as ‘states of being’ for many of the world’s peoples.

Charles Carnegie, author of Postnationalism Prefigured: Caribbean Borderlands

Investigating how the fraught political economy of migration impacts people around the world, Donald Martin Carter raises important issues about contemporary African diasporic movements. Developing the notion of the anthropology of invisibility, he explores the trope of navigation in social theory intent on understanding the lived experiences of transnational migrants.

Carter examines invisibility in its various forms, from social rejection and residential segregation to war memorials and the inability of some groups to represent themselves through popular culture, scholarship, or art. The pervasiveness of invisibility is not limited to symbolic actions, Carter shows, but may have dramatic and at times catastrophic consequences for people subjected to its force. The geographic span of his analysis is global, encompassing Senegalese Muslims in Italy and the United States and concluding with practical questions about the future of European societies. Carter also considers both contemporary and historical constellations of displacement, from Darfurian refugees to French West African colonial soldiers.

Whether focusing on historical photographs, television, print media, and graffiti scrawled across urban walls or identifying the critique of colonialism implicit in African films and literature, Carter reveals a protean and peopled world in motion.

Navigating the African Diaspora

Donald Martin Carter is associate professor of Africana studies at Hamilton College.

Navigating the African Diaspora

Donald Martin Carter’s ethnographic research among Senegalese living and working in Italy represents a fine contemporary example of African American diaspora scholarship coming into its own, confronting and breaking out of the constraining perspective of U.S. exceptionalism. In Navigating the African Diaspora, Carter urges us to think about diasporic journeys and sojourns not as temporary conditions but as ‘states of being’ for many of the world’s peoples.

Charles Carnegie, author of Postnationalism Prefigured: Caribbean Borderlands

Navigating the African Diaspora is a worthwhile investment for any academic interested in issues pertaining to diaspora, migration, or the African diasporic experience. Carter’s book is a noteworthy addition to the literature of diaspora studies and is commendable for its ambition to champion change within the academy.

Black Diaspora Review

In this strikingly told tale, anthropologist Donald Martin Carter offers his readers a
beautifully written story of exile, personal and collective. In it, Carter tells the story of
diaspora, not one, but many throughout history and how they are linked through a
pervasive experience of invisibility. In all, Donald Martin Carter’s Navigating the African Diaspora is a pleasure to read and makes an important contribution toward linking the study of Africa with its diasporas, past and present.

The International Journal of African Historical Studies