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Between “Stranger in the Village” and I Am Not Your Negro
Jovita dos Santos Pinto
Noémi Michel
Patricia Purtschert
Paola Bacchetta
, and
Vanessa Naef

James Baldwin’s writing, his persona, as well as his public speeches, interviews, and discussions are undergoing a renewed reception in the arts, in queer and critical race studies, and in queer of color movements. Directed by Raoul Peck, the film I Am Not Your Negro decisively contributed to the rekindled circulation of Baldwin across the Atlantic. Since 2017, screenings and commentaries on the highly acclaimed film have prompted discussions about the persistent yet variously racialized temporospatial formations of Europe and the U.S. Stemming from a roundtable that followed a screening in Zurich in February 2018, this collective essay wanders between the audio-visual and textual matter of the film and Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village,” which was also adapted into a film-essay directed by Pierre Koralnik, staging Baldwin in the Swiss village of Leukerbad. Privileging Black feminist, postcolonial, and queer of color perspectives, we identify three sites of Baldwin’s transatlantic reverberations: situated knowledge, controlling images, and everyday sexual racism. In conclusion, we reflect on the implications of racialized, sexualized politics for today’s Black feminist, queer, and trans of color movements located in continental Europe—especially in Switzerland and France.

James Baldwin Review
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The stories behind Egyptian mummies in museums

Two mummies buried in a museum garden … a coffin that rotates … skulls amassed for dubious research … What if the most interesting stories about Egyptian mummies are not the ones you know?

Mummified explores the curious, unsettling and controversial stories of the Egyptian mummies held by museums in France and Britain. From powdered mummies consumed as medicine, to mummies unrolled in public, dissected for race studies and DNA-tested in modern laboratories, there is a lot more to these ancient human remains than meets the eye. Following mummies on their journeys from Egypt to museums and private collections in Paris, London, Leicester and Manchester, the book revisits the history of these bodies that have fascinated Europeans for so long.

Mummified explores stories of life and death, of collecting and viewing, and of interactions – sometimes violent and sometimes moving – that raise questions about the essence of what makes us human.

Critical reflections for the field
Kurt Sengul

As critical scholars of race implore us to consider the structural and systemic nature of racism and to move beyond individualistic and attitudinal understandings, the proliferation of the global far right has reinforced a ‘bad apple’ view of racism within the scholarship. The purpose of this chapter is to offer a reflexive account of conducting a PhD thesis on Australia’s most prominent far-right politician, Pauline Hanson. For many, the return of Pauline Hanson to the Australian parliament in 2016 signalled the return of the ugly politics of race that characterised Hanson’s first stint in politics in the 1990s. The collective agreement that Hanson’s return represented the resurgence of racism in Australia corresponded with Ghassan’s Hage’s point that “white Australians have an interest in someone else perceived as ‘irrational and/immature’ … by distinguishing themselves from the ‘extremists’” (2000: 246). This chapter suggests that in the absence of a risk critical analysis, scholars of populism and the far right risk (re)producing individualistic understandings of racism through our narrow focus on far-right actors. Drawing on the Australian case study, this chapter aims to produce a set of critical provocations for scholars researching the far right within colonial and settler colonial contexts where racism is woven into the very fabric of society at a structural level. The chapter concludes by arguing that anything less than conceptualising the far right within a broader system of race, colonialism, and white supremacy risks the field becoming an obstacle to the project of dismantling them.

in The ethics of researching the far right
Mobilising affect in feminist, queer and anti-racist media cultures

The power of vulnerability interrogates the new language of vulnerability that has emerged in feminist, queer and anti-racist debates about the production, use and meanings of media. The book investigates the historical legacies and contemporary forms and effects of this language. In today’s media culture, traumatic first-person or group narratives have popular currency, mobilising affect from compassion to rage to gain cultural visibility and political advantage. In this context, vulnerability becomes a kind of capital, a resource or an asset that can and has been appropriated for various groups and purposes in public discourses, activism as well as cultural institutions. Thus, politics of representation translates into politics of affect, and the question about whose vulnerability counts as socially and culturally legible and acknowledged. The contributors of the book examine how vulnerability has become a battleground; how affect and vulnerability have turned into a politicised language for not only addressing but also obscuring asymmetries of power; and how media activism and state policies address so-called vulnerable groups. While the contributors investigate the political potential as well as the constraints of vulnerability for feminist, queer and antiracist criticism, they also focus on the forms of agency and participation vulnerability can offer.


This ground-breaking book analyses premodern whiteness as operations of fragility, precarity and racialicity across bodily and nonsomatic figurations. It examines works such as The Book of the Duchess, Pearl, The King of Tars and others, arguing that while whiteness participates crucially in the history of racialisation in the late medieval West, it does not denote or connote skin tone alone. Deploying diverse methodologies, the book asks how premodern whiteness as a representational trope both produces and delimits a range of medieval ideological regimes: courtly love and beauty, masculine subjectivity, Christian salvation, chivalric prowess, labour and consumption, social ethics or racialised European identity. The ‘before’ of whiteness, presupposing essence and teleology, is less a retro-futuristic temporisation – one that simultaneously looks backward and faces forward – than a discursive figuration of how white becomes whiteness. Fragility delineates the limits of ruling ideologies in performances of mourning as self-defence against perceived threats to subjectivity and desire; precarity registers the ruptures within normative values by foregrounding the unmarked vulnerability of the body politic and the violence of cultural aestheticisation; and racialicity attends to the politics of recognition and the technologies of enfleshment at the systemic edge of life and nonlife, of periodisation and of racial embodiment. If whiteness has hardened into an identity politics defined by skin tone alone, this book argues that it has not always been so. Operations of whiteness may generate differences that fabricate, structure and connect the social world, but these operative differences of whiteness are never transparent, stable or permanent.

Substance, symbols, and hope

The election of Barack Obama was a milestone in US history with tremendous symbolic importance for the black community. But was this symbolism backed up by substance? Did ordinary black people really benefit under the first black president?

This is the question that Andra Gillespie sets out to answer in Race and the Obama Administration. Using a variety of methodological techniques—from content analysis of executive orders to comparisons of key indicators, such as homeownership and employment rates under Clinton, Bush, and Obama— the book charts the progress of black causes and provides valuable perspective on the limitations of presidential power in addressing issues of racial inequality. Gillespie uses public opinion data to investigate the purported disconnect between Obama’s performance and his consistently high ratings among black voters, asking how far the symbolic power of the first black family in the White House was able to compensate for the compromises of political office.

Scholarly but accessible, Race and the Obama Administration will be of interest to students and lecturers in US politics and race studies, as well as to general readers who want to better understand the situation of the black community in the US today and the prospects for its improvement.

Meghji Ali

This chapter brings the book to a conclusion. I review the contributions this book makes to studies of the Black middle class, critical race theory, cultural sociology, and race and class more broadly. I also examine how my research can open up new studies in cultural sociology, critical race studies, and international perspectives on the Black middle class. The book also reflects on the theme of the book series: racism, resistance, and social change, where I argue that a growth in a Black middle class does not mean there is growing racial equality in Britain.

in Black middle class Britannia
Playing black in late seventeenth-century France and Spain
Noémie Ndiaye

This chapter examines the emergence and significance of the theatregram of the African ambassador in 1660s French theatre, in plays like Le Mort Vivant, by Edmé Boursault (1662), L’Ambassadeur d’Affrique, by Du Perche (1666), Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière (1670), and Le Mariage de la reine de Monomotapa by Bel-Isle (1682). Reading this theatregram in conversation with contemporary policies in the French Caribbean colonies, I argue that African ambassadors on stage contributed to the development and dissemination of a solidifying racial discourse in late seventeenth-century France. A thorough examination of the transnational component in Boursault’s play, more specifically, of the play’s all-out and multilayered Spanishness, brings to light the play’s ambivalence towards the notion of hybridity. The internal evolution of the theatregram between 1662 and 1682, however, marks a departure from Boursault’s take: the later plays of the African ambassador corpus are devoid of such ideological ambivalence. This denotes a hardening of racial thinking over the course of those twenty years. Ultimately, that approach promotes the integration of transnational foci and comparative methods into early modern race studies.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre

This book recounts the little-known history of the mixed-race children born to black American servicemen and white British women during the Second World War. Of the three million American soldiers stationed in Britain from 1942 to 1945, about 8 per cent (240,000) were African-American; the latter’s relationships with British women resulted in the birth of an estimated 2,000 babies. The African-American press named these children ‘brown babies’; the British called them ‘half-castes’. Black GIs, in this segregated army, were forbidden to marry their white girlfriends. Up to half of the mothers of these babies, faced with the stigma of illegitimacy and a mixed-race child, gave their children up for adoption. The outcome for these children tended to be long-term residency in children’s homes, sometimes followed by fostering and occasionally adoption, but adoption societies frequently would not take on ‘coloured’ children, who were thought to be ‘too hard to place’. There has been minimal study of these children and the difficulties they faced, such as racism in a (then) very white Britain, lack of family or a clear identity. Accessibly written and illustrated with numerous photographs, this book presents the stories of over forty of these children. While some of the accounts of early childhood are heart-breaking, there are also many uplifting narratives of finding American fathers and gaining a sense of self and of heritage.

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Criticism, history, subjectivity

The title of this book - The ends of Ireland - brings together a number of closely entwined subjects and themes. The chapters in the book are concerned with the work of a generation of critics emerging from Ireland from the 1980s onwards whose work examines the idea of the 'ends of Ireland' in the sense of a focus on the purpose and consequences of a range of concepts of the nation and national identity. Yet these critics - Luke Gibbons, David Lloyd, Seamus Deane, W.J. McCormack, Gerardine Meaney and Emer Nolan - have the notion of 'ends' and 'endings' as their object in other ways. As the main representatives of the turn to theory in Irish Studies that occurred in the late 1980s and the 1990s, they have tracked and catalysed the dissolution of an unreflective and ideological notion of national identity as a matrix of critical analysis. The book examines the margin between Ireland and its others in order to elaborate a sense of what it might mean to speak of Ireland in the wake of the new ideas that began to circulate in the 1980s: deconstruction, psychoanalytic theory, feminism, subaltern studies, postcolonialism and not least the revisionist approaches that have revolutionized Irish historiography.