In his 2009 article “We Were Dancing in the Club, Not on the Berlin Wall” (Cultural Anthropology, 23(4)), Damani James Partridge posits that “(…) black skin itself opens up new possibilities (and necessities) for incorporation” in the European context (p.661). Using his work on black male bodies in Berlin as a base, this paper will expand upon his observations to explore the movement and space of black bodies (both male and female) in Latvia – particularly how bodies of color travel within and outside of public spaces in Latvia and how simply via the color of their skin they become no longer just a part of society, but objects to be stared at, touched, and at times ridiculed. This exploration includes commentary from field work conducted in the city of Riga in 2008 and 2009, as well as the author’s own observations of her experience as a woman of color in Latvia. Contained within the ethnographic commentary is the history of black bodies and socialization proce! sses that are a part of their daily lives and construct the space within which they currently move. The dueling issues of visibility and invisibility in this space, the paper argues, creates an environment in which black bodies are considered to be both within and outside of the current debates on identity and integration in contemporary Latvia.
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