Tag Archives: Racialisation

Book Review: Wounds of Returning

We are pleased to announce that a new book review by postgraduate student James West of the University of Manchester has been added to the research section of the Black Atlantic Resource, which takes a look at the 2007 publication Wounds of Returning.

Jessica Adams, Wounds of Returning: Race, Memory and Property on the Postslavery Plantation, 2007 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press)

Wounds of Returning book coverThe author’s description of this study as an ‘eclectic, unconventional plantation tour’ (15-­‐16) probably best surmises Wounds of Returning, a highly original but often frustrating work on the spatial, cultural and ideological legacy of southern plantations since emancipation. Adams builds from a Lockean foundation concerning the connection between property and the individual to argue that race forms an integral part of the relationship between possession, property and personhood in the American south. Using a wide array of cultural and literary artefacts Adams assesses the ways in which plantation culture has been negotiated through film, music, literature and tourism …read more

If you are interested in contribution a book review to the Black Atlantic Resource please contact us.

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Symposium: Race, Representation, Resistance: Cultural Criticism in the Digital Age

Depaul University Symposium Header

Location: Courtelyou Commons, 2324 N. Fremont St., DePaul University, Chicago 
Date/Time: March 7th, 4-9pm.


This free public event will address the provocative, explorative and suggestive work of cultural critics in the digital age. It is particularly interested in how cultural critics address an age that is repeatedly depicted as post-soul, post-race and post-black. 


The symposium will feature three exceptionally talented, perceptive, and incisive writers who have consistently produced intellectual work that deepens our interest in arts and culture; reveals new meanings and perspectives; expands our sense of culture; confronts our assumptions about value and taste; and sharpens our ability to respond to cultural texts. 


Lewis Gordon teaches in the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for African American Studies, with affiliation in Judaic Studies, at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. He previously taught at Temple University (where he was a Laura H. Carnell Professor of Philosophy and founded and directed the Center for AfroJewish Studies and the Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought), Brown University and Purdue University. He will deliver a talk relating to his recent work on the market colonization of the virtual public sphere.

Armond White is the editor of City Arts, for which he also writes articles and reviews. He was previously the lead film critic for the alternative weekly New York Press (1997–2011) and the arts editor and critic for The City Sun (1984–1996). His presentation is entitled, ‘Monster: How Celebrity Effects Black Identity,’ and will use key texts (literary, cinematic, musical) from the early 1900s to the present that detail the evolution of Black Power as both an aesthetic and political construct. 

Francesca Royster is a Professor of English at DePaul University who has written widely about Shakespeare, Race and Gender, Black Feminisms, Cultural Studies and Popular Culture, and Literature and Film. Her talk will trace a rebellious spirit in post-civil rights black music by addressing a range of offbeat, eccentric, queer, or slippery performances by leading musicians influenced by the cultural changes brought about by the civil rights, black nationalist, feminist, and LGBTQ movements.

Refreshments will be served at the event. 

Please contact Daniel McNeil (dmcneil2@depaul.edu) to RSVP

Book Review: Human Zoos

A new review by postgraduate research student Emily Trafford of the University of Liverpool’s School of Histories, Languages and Cultures has been added to the research section of the Black Atlantic Resource, which looks at the 2008 publication Human Zoos.

P. Blanchard, N. Bancel, G. Boёtsch, É. Deroo, S. Lemaire, C. Forsdick (eds), Human Zoos: Science and Spectacle in the Age of Colonial Empires, 2008 (Liverpool University Press: Liverpool)

This recent collection of essays on the display of human otherness moves beyond the wave of freak show literature of the 1980s and ‘90s, and seeks to provide a more comprehensive overview of this peculiar exhibitionary practice. The display of the exotic Other for entertainment, education, and supposedly the advancement of scientific knowledge, occurred in numerous guises throughout imperial nations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The strength of the volume lies in its scope – in terms of time and place, the historical characters and stories that emerge, and the disciplinary approaches that its contributors utilise – all of which make Human Zoos a valuable resource …read more

If you are interested in contributing a book review to the Black Atlantic Resource please contact us.

African Americans and the US Penal System

Trayvon Martin’s fatal shooting in late February 2012 has sparked off a whole host of debates around the problematic relationship of African-Americans to the US penal system in the popular media. Yet this has long been a contentious issue leading many to draw parallels between the contemporary treatment and incarceration rates, particularly of African-American men in the US, and former explicit regimes of discrimination in that country such as Jim Crow and Slavery. Such comparisons led one online blogger to claim that more black men are in prison today than enslaved in 1850, while there have also been a host of good academic studies in this area such as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – summarized via Worldcat.org as:

“…the book Lani Guinier calls “brave and bold,” and Pulitzer Prize-winner David Levering Lewis calls “stunning,” … In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate.”

In relation to this Angelina Matson and the design team at Criminolgy.com created the graphic below illustrating case-by-case examinations of police brutality, for more information about this graphic click here:

Police Brutality: Know Your Rights
Created by: Criminology.com

Debates of this nature have been engaged with widely through the arts. Artist Coco Fusco for example, whose work appeared in the 2010 Afro Modern exhibition at Tate Liverpool, has engaged with issues of incarceration and exploitation in her writing (see At Your Service: Latin Women in the Global Information Network). Widening the debate internationally and also exploring the role of women in the US military as perpetrators of torture in the War on Terror Fusco published the work A Field Guide for Female Interrogators:

“Framed as a letter to Virginia Woolf – who argued that women could prevent war – Fusco asks elemental questions about how the US military has capitalized on the growing presence of women in its ranks and how it is adapting originally feminist ideas about sexual assertiveness in its interrogation strategies”

Also see our earlier post via curatorial fellows at MoCADA: Changing “The Master Plan” Hybridity and Black Art and Design.

Kanaval and ‘Caste’

Two upcoming exhibitions – one in Nottingham and one in London – present the work of photographer Leah Gordon through two different frames of reference.

The first is titled after the 2010 publication Kanaval: Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haiti and will juxtapose some of the images and oral histories from that book with a special commission by Haitian artist André Eugene that will utilise Jeremy Deller’s 2005 English ‘Folk Archive’.

Kanaval will be at the New Art Exchange, Nottingham, 16 June – 11 August 2012. Click here for more information.

This exhibition will also be preceded on the 15 June by a conversation between Leah  Gordon and Guardian columnist Sean O’Hagan at 6.15 – 7.30pm.

The Second exhibition titled Leah Gordon ‘Caste’ presents new photographic work from Gordon that investigates the Haitian colonial history of racial classification. In 18th-century Saint Domingue Moreau de St Mery was responsible for charting: “a surreal taxonomy of race which classified skin colour from Noir to Blanche using names borrowed from mythology, natural history and bestial miscegenation.”

‘Caste’ will be at The Riflemaker Gallery in London 28 May – 7 July 2012. Click here for more information.

Video of the Week: After Hot-En-Tot: Two conversations with Artist Renée Cox

Following on from the popularity of an earlier post – If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and then you get kicked to the curb – focusing on the work of Renée Cox this week’s video feature includes two clips, each containing an interview with artist Renée Cox recorded at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art on 22 October 2009. The first is a conversation with an audience led by former Spelman Cosby chair Lisa E. Farrington, Ph.D., John Jay College, CUNY. The second is a one-on-one conversation that appears to have been filmed on the same day inside the Museum’s gallery space.

Each clip presents Cox ruminating on themes and driving forces behind her work including Race, Gender, Womanhood, Representation and Femininity. There are some overlaps in the conversation of each clip but also some interesting divergences.

The first conversation is pinned around specific works of Cox’s. It takes as its starting point the motivation for Cox’s work Hot-en-tot (1994) based on research she conducted which led her to find out about the “extraordinarily shocking histories” of human exhibition. Cox’s photographic work Hot-en-tot is inspired by the life and experiences of a Khosian woman, Saartje Baartman, who was objectified as a physiognomic curiosity and exhibited in Europe in the 19th century, as the ‘Hottentot Venus’. In Cox’s nude self-portrait her breasts and buttocks are covered with oversized prosthetic versions found for sale in a fancy dress shop. Cox discusses the power of the objectifying gaze and the importance for her in this, and other works, of revising history and creating a space to defy and return that gaze. Through revisiting Baartman’s body and the exploitative narrative that surrounded it – which became a potent symbol projected outwards onto the black female body as an abstract idea – Cox recreates, revises, and represents: A process that she employs through(out) her body (of work).

The second clip offers a more intimate and provocative discussion with Cox. She talks about the resonance of her work Queen Nanny of the Maroons (2004) which appeared in the exhibition Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic at Tate Liverpool in 2010.  Generally though, this conversation explores more broadly the social issues that “inspire and impact” her work as a whole. Here Cox discusses specific issues surrounding: education and intergration in the contemporary context of the United States and; the comparative importance of race and skin tone as identity in Jamaica and the United States. Cox encapsulates her bold and assured approach to creating as she winds up the interview stating: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and then you get kicked to the curb.”

To read more about Cox’s work click here.

To view Renée Cox’s website click here

Click here to view some images of Cox’s work online via tumblr.

White Anglo-Saxon Hopes and Black Americans’ Atlantic Dreams

White Anglo-Saxon Hopes and Black Americans’ Atlantic Dreams: Jack Johnson and the British Boxing Colour Bar by Theresa Runstedtler.

This article examines the controversy surrounding Jack Johnson’s proposed world heavyweight title fight against the British champion Bombardier Billy Wells in London (1911). In juxtaposing African Americans’ often glowing discussions of European tolerance with the actual white resistance the black champion faced in Britain, including the Home Office’s eventual prohibition of the match, the article explores the period’s transnational discourses of race and citizenship. Indeed, as white sportsmen on both sides of the Atlantic joined together in their search for a “White Hope” to unseat Johnson, the boxing ring became an important cultural arena for interracial debates over the political and social divisions between white citizens and nonwhite subjects.

Although African Americans had high hopes for their hero’s European sojourn, the British backlash against the Johnson-Wells match underscored the fact that their local experiences of racial oppression were just one facet of a much broader global problem. At the same time, the proposed prizefight also made the specter of interracial conflict in the colonies all the more tangible in the British capital, provoking public discussions about the merits of U.S. racial segregation, along with the need for white Anglo-Saxon solidarity around the world. Thus, this article not only exposes the underlying connections between American Jim Crow and the racialized fault lines of British imperialism, but it also traces the “tense and tender ties” linking U.S. and African American history with the new imperial history and postcolonial studies.

Read the full article at Project Muse

(Journal of World History, Volume 21, Number 4, December 2010, pp. 657-689)