Bristol, Douglas Walter. Knights of the Razor: Black Barbers in Slavery and Freedom. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press Press, 2009.
Black barbers, reflected a freed slave who barbered in antebellum St. Louis, may have been “the only men in their community who enjoyed, at all times, the privilege of free speech.” The reason, of course, lay in their temporary — but absolute — power over a client. With a flick of the wrist, 19th—century black barbers could have slit the throats of the white men they shaved. In Knights of the Razor, Douglas Walter Bristol, Jr., explores this extraordinary relationship in the largely untold story of African American barbers, North and South, from the American Revolution to the First World War.
Besides establishing the modern—day barbershop, these barbers used their skilled trade to navigate the many pitfalls that racism created for ambitious black men. They dominated an upscale market that catered to prosperous white men. At the same time, their respect for labor itself preserved their ties to the black community. Successful barbers assumed leadership roles in their localities, helping to form a black middle class despite pervasive racial segregation. They advocated economic independence from whites and founded insurance companies that became some of the largest black—owned corporations.
via Johns Hopkins University Press.
H-Net Review by Scott Giltner
Marjorie Keniston McIntosh. Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change. Bloomington Indiana University Press, 2009
The Yoruba, one of the largest and most historically important ethnic groups in Nigeria, are noted for the economic activity, confidence, and authority of their women. Yoruba Women, Work, and Social Change traces the history of women in Yorubaland from around 1820 to 1960 and Nigerian independence. Integrating fresh material from local court records and four decades of existing scholarship, Marjorie Keniston McIntosh shows how and why women’s roles and status changed during the 19th century and the colonial era. McIntosh emphasizes connections between their duties within the household, their income-generating work, and their responsibilities in religious, cultural, social, and political contexts. She highlights the forms of patriarchy found within Yorubaland and explores the impact of Christianity, colonialism, and international capitalism. This keen and insightful work offers a unique view of Yoruba women’s initiative, adaptability, and skill at working in groups.
via University Illinois Press website.
H-Net review by Cyrelene Amoah available here.
“IFRA-Nigeria is a non profit Institute set up to promote research in the social sciences and the humanities, as well as enhance collaborative work between scholars in France and West Africa. First established in 1990 and financed by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Institute has now been operating from the Universities of Ibadan (Institute of African Studies) and Zaria (Institute for Development Research) since 2006. IFRA’s mandate includes subsidizing research programs, (…)”
Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique – Nigeria.
“Gabor Boritt and Scott Hancock, editors of Slavery, Resistance, Freedom, have combined under one cover six fine essays that illustrate ways in which African Americans shaped the course of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The slim volume is a fine capstone to a generation of scholarship in which historians have come to understand black Americans as central actors in the sectional conflict. Indeed, the contributors so effectively elaborate the extent of African American agency on the plantation, at war, and in politics that they highlight the interpretive limits of the current scholarly consensus. As Hancock writes in the introduction, the collection highlights “the rich diversity of African Americans’ experiences with and responses to freedom and slavery in the Civil War era.” He also makes clear, however, that the collection attends primarily to those “black people, both slave and free,” who “resisted all kinds of exploitation and degradation” (p. xviii). There is no room within the rich diversity of experience, in other words, for black Americans who decided against active resistance….”
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