Searching for Black Queer Domesticity at Chez Baldwin
Magdalena J. Zaborowska
This essay argues for the importance of James Baldwin’s last house, located in St. Paul-de-Vence in the south of France, to his late works written during the productive period of 1971–87: No Name in the Street (1972), If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), The Devil Finds Work (1976), Just Above My Head (1979), The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), and the unpublished play The Welcome Table (1987). That period ushered in a new Baldwin, more complex and mature as an author, who became disillusioned while growing older as a black queer American who had no choice but to live abroad to get his work done and to feel safe. Having established his most enduring household at “Chez Baldwin,” as the property was known locally, the writer engaged in literary genre experimentation and challenged normative binaries of race, gender, and sexuality with his conceptions of spatially contingent national identity. The late Baldwin created unprecedented models of black queer domesticity and humanism that, having been excluded from U.S. cultural narratives until recently, offer novel ways to reconceptualize what it means to be an American intellectual in the twenty-first-century world.
This article considers the contexts and processes of forensic identification in 2004
post-tsunami Thailand as examples of identity politics. The presence of international
forensic teams as carriers of diverse technical expertise overlapped with
bureaucratic procedures put in place by the Thai government. The negotiation of
unified forensic protocols and the production of estimates of identified nationals
straddle biopolitics and thanatocracy. The immense identification task testified on
the one hand to an effort to bring individual bodies back to mourning families and
national soils, and on the other hand to determining collective ethnic and national
bodies, making sense out of an inexorable and disordered dissolution of corporeal as
well as political boundaries. Individual and national identities were the subject of
competing efforts to bring order to,the chaos, reaffirming the cogency of the body
politic by mapping national boundaries abroad. The overwhelming forensic effort
required by the exceptional circumstances also brought forward the socio-economic and
ethnic disparities of the victims, whose post-mortem treatment and identification
traced an indelible divide between us and them.
Making Home explores the orphan child as a trope in contemporary US fiction, arguing that in times of perceived national crisis concerns about American identity, family, and literary history are articulated around this literary figure. The book focuses on orphan figures in a broad, multi-ethnic range of contemporary fiction by Barbara Kingsolver, Linda Hogan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Marilynne Robinson, Michael Cunningham, Jonathan Safran Foer, John Irving, Kaye Gibbons, Octavia Butler, Jewelle Gomez, and Toni Morrison. It also investigates genres as carriers of cultural memory, looking particularly at the captivity narrative, historical fiction, speculative fiction, the sentimental novel, and the bildungsroman. From a decisively literary perspective, Making Home engages socio-political concerns such as mixed-race families, child welfare, multiculturalism, and racial and national identity, as well as shifting definitions of familial, national, and literary home. By analyzing how contemporary novels both incorporate and resist gendered and raced literary conventions, how they elaborate on symbolic and factual meanings of orphanhood, and how they explore kinship beyond the nuclear and/or adoptive family, this book offers something distinctly new in American literary studies. It is a crucial study for students and scholars interested in the links between literature and identity, questions of inclusion and exclusion in national ideology, and definitions of family and childhood.
Questions about drink — how it is used, how it should be regulated, and the social risks it presents — have been a source of sustained and heated dispute in recent years. This book puts these concerns in historical context by providing a detailed and extensive survey of public debates on alcohol from the introduction of licensing in the mid-sixteenth century through to recent controversies over 24-hour licensing, binge drinking, and the cheap sale of alcohol in supermarkets. In doing so, it shows that concerns over drinking have always been tied to broader questions about national identity, individual freedom, and the relationship between government and the market. The book argues that in order to properly understand the cultural status of alcohol, we need to consider what attitudes to drinking tell us about the principles that underpin our modern, liberal society. It presents a wide-ranging guide to the social, political, and cultural history of alcohol in England, covering areas including law, public policy, medical thought, media representations, and political philosophy.
Separate but equal? Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland focuses on the historical and current place of religion in the Irish education system from the perspective of children’s rights and citizenship. It offers a critical analysis of the political, cultural and social forces that have perpetuated the patronage system, looks at the ways in which the denominational model has been adapted to increased religious and cultural diversity in Irish society and shows that recent changes have failed to address persistent discrimination and the absence of respect for freedom of conscience. It relates current debates on the denominational system and the role of the State in education to Irish political thought and conceptions of national identity in Ireland, showing the ways in which such debates reflect a tension between nationalist-communitarian and republican political outlooks. There have been efforts towards accommodation and against instances of discrimination within the system, but Irish educational structures still privilege communal and private interests and hierarchies over equal rights, either in the name of a de facto ‘majority’ right to religious domination or by virtue of a deeply flawed and limited view of ‘parental choice’.
This timely collection explores British attitudes to continental Europe that explain the Brexit decision. Analysing British discourses of Europe and the impact of British Euroscepticism, the book argues that Britain’s exit from the European Union reflects a more general cultural rejection of continental Europe: Britain is in denial about the strength of its ties to Europe and needs to face Europe if it is to face the future. The volume brings together literary and cultural studies, history, and political science in an integrated analysis of views and practices that shape cultural memory and the cultural imaginary. Part I, ‘Britain and Europe: political entanglements’, traces the historical and political relationship between Britain and Europe and the place of Europe in recent British political debates while Part II, ‘British discourses of Europe in literature and film’, is devoted to representative case studies of films as well as popular Eurosceptic and historical fiction. Part III, ‘Negotiating borders in British travel writing and memoir’, engages with border mindedness and the English Channel as a contact zone, also including a Gibraltarian point of view. Given the crucial importance of literature in British discourses of national identity, the book calls for, and embarks on, a Euro-British literary studies that highlights the nature and depth of the British-European entanglement.
This is a book-length study of the ideological foundations of British imperialism in the early twentieth century. By focussing on the heretofore understudied concept of imperial citizenship, it illustrates how the political, cultural, and intellectual underpinnings of empire were constructed and challenged by forces in both Britain and the ‘Britains Overseas’, the settlement colonies of Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Debates about imperial citizenship reveal how Britons conceived of the empire: was it an extension of the nation-state, a collection of separate and distinct communities, or a type of ‘world-state?’ These debates were also about the place of empire in British society, its importance to the national identity, and the degree to which imperial subjects were or were not seen as ‘fellow Britons’. This public discourse was at its most fervent from the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902) to the early 1920s, when Britain emerged victorious, shocked and exhausted from the Great War. Drawing on the thinking of imperial activists, publicists, ideologues and travellers such as Lionel Curtis, John Buchan, Arnold White, Richard Jebb and Thomas Sedgwick, the book is a comparative history of how the idea of imperial citizenship took hold in early-twentieth-century Britain and how it helped foster the articulation of a broader British World. It also reveals how imperial citizenship as a form of imperial identity was challenged by voices in both Britain and the empire, and how it influenced later imperial developments.
First published in Spanish in 2001, this book is a study of the development of Spanish national identity (‘the idea of Spain’) from the end of the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. It breaks away from an academic obsession with the sub-nationalism of Catalonia and the Basque Country to examine the predominant form of national consciousness, against which they reacted. The book traces the emergence and evolution of an initial collective identity within the Iberian Peninsula from the Middle Ages to the end of the ancien regime based on the Catholic religion, loyalty to the Crown and Empire. The adaptation of this identity to the modern era, beginning with the Napoleonic Wars and the liberal revolutions, forms the crux of this study. None the less, the book also embraces the highly contested evolution of the national identity in the twentieth century, including both the Civil War and the Franco Dictatorship. It ranges widely over diverse subjects such as representations of the past in Spain, the role of the arts and sciences in creating national consciousness, the impact of religion and Catholic ideas, the use of cultural symbolism, and the significance of contemporary events and political movements.
Friends and enemies: The Allies and neutral Ireland in the Second World War examines the personal friendships and embittered conflicts among British, American, and Irish national leaders, their Dublin-based foreign policy advisers, and an American journalist as those relationships warmed and cooled, shifting in response to their nations’ fortunes during the six years’ war. The dominant personalities of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Eamon de Valera, marked by their distinctive prejudices and predilections, in combination with the culturally and historically specific British, American, and Irish masculine ideologies that prescribed their privileged and powerful roles, determined the ways that they each constructed politically useful national identities and war stories. Through their public addresses and in their private correspondence and recollections, they associated specific character traits, behaviors, allegiances, and affinities with themselves, their nations’ male citizens, and with their personal “friends” and national allies, as they distinguished themselves from their “enemies” in order to rally their compatriots to either support – or reject – the most consequential of all political projects: to go to war. Churchill’s, Roosevelt’s, and de Valera’s constructions of those identities and narratives, shared and reinforced by their advisers and propagandists, helped to shape the emotional, patriotic, and gendered experiences of the Second World War among their nations’ people, as well as their nations’ wartime policies.
Popular dance in Britain fundamentally transformed in the early 1920s. This book explores the development, experience and cultural representation of popular dance in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. The specific focus is on two distinct yet occasionally overlapping commercial producers: the dance profession and the dance hall industry. The strong foreign, and increasingly American, influences on dancing directly connected this cultural form with questions about the autonomy and identity of the British nation. The book uses dancing as a lens through which to better understand broader historical processes of popular cultural production and consumption, and national identity construction. The first part of the book focuses on the efforts of dancing's producers to construct a standardised style and experience for British dancing, and the response to those efforts by consumers. These interactions determined which dances would find success in Britain, and how and where they would be performed. The second part demonstrates how these interactions between dancing's producers and consumers constructed, circulated, embodied, but also commodified, ideologies of gender, class, race and nation. The dance profession transformed the steps and figures of foreign dances like the foxtrot and tango into what became known as the 'English style' of ballroom dancing. The dance hall industry launched a series of novelty dances, such as the Lambeth Walk, that were celebrated for their British origins and character, and marketed the wartime dance floor as a site of patriotism and resistance.