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Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity

Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity
    Book Description:

    The unfinished manuscript of literary and cultural theorist Lindon Barrett, this study offers a genealogy of how the development of racial blackness within the mercantile capitalist system of Euro-American colonial imperialism was constitutive of Western modernity. Masterfully connecting historical systems of racial slavery to post-Enlightenment modernity, this pathbreaking publication shows how Western modernity depended on a particular conception of racism contested by African American writers and intellectuals from the eighteenth century to the Harlem Renaissance.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09529-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xx)

    Lindon Barrett died tragically in 2008. His family, friends, and colleagues around the world are still mourning his untimely death, and we hope this book will contribute to this psychological work as well as continue Lindon’s important intellectual work. Since 1999, whenBlackness and Value: Seeing Doublewas published by Cambridge University Press, Lindon had been working on the present study of western modernity’s construction of racial blackness. Those of us in regular correspondence with Lindon recall how excited he was about concluding a long, complicated research project. Several of his good friends recall how energized he was in the...

  4. CHAPTER 1 The Conceptual Impossibility of Racial Blackness: History, the Commodity, and Diasporic Modernity
    (pp. 1-43)

    One formula for specifying Western modernity is: the historical environment that reports the threshold between the materiality of the body and the abstracted forces of sociopolitical coordination as the trace of subjectivity—the discursive constituting the relays of these relations. Michel Foucault presents this model by offering the concept of the episteme, the concept by which “[discontinuity] . . . has now become one of the basic elements of historical analysis.”¹ In short, the historical disjunction of Western modernity remains its emphatic characteristic.

    Assuming this model, inThe Anatomy of Power: European Constructions of the African Body, psychologist Alexander Butchart...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Making the Flesh Word: Binomial Being and Representational Presence
    (pp. 44-71)

    Racial blackness, the primary enabling point of exclusion for the development of Western modernity, complicates the legibility of modern subjectivity. This point of civic animation, buoyed by international trade and markets, by the end of the eighteenth century would be the iconic referent of human presence—the novel animation drawn in the material and interpretative diffusions of the Atlantic commodity and cultural exchange represented, concomitantly, as discrete nomination. Racial blackness is the contrary nomination of the “great majority of immigrants to America up to the end of the eighteenth century, [who] were not Europeans whether free men, indentured servants or...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Captivity, Desire, Trade: The Forging of National Form
    (pp. 72-136)

    “Abolition” seems, misleadingly, to mark a discrete episode in modern political development, an episode historically most peculiar to the nineteenth century, paradigmatically signaling the transformed mandate of the modern nation-state, reorienting the state purportedly to supply the condition of civic individuality as broadly and consistently as possible throughout its jurisdictions, and particularly across race or caste divisions. Abolition, as this type of discrete episode, seems to be the liminal point between the radically distinct legalities of slave regimes and regimes in which states of emancipation are presented as incontrovertible. However, as drawn recently and precisely, for example, by cultural critic...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Intimate Civic: The Disturbance of the Quotidian
    (pp. 137-156)

    The political unrest of the antebellum United States—the advance toward the mass aggression and violence of war—encompasses, in turn: the federal abstraction, geographic expansion, bureaucratic complementarity, and public sociality. Public sociality, the final and most circumscribing modality of the unrest, elicits the corporeal most directly. The most immediate features of corporeality become the indices for either the application of aggression and violence within the ideal of U.S. civil society or, appositely, the (in)controvertible suspension of the severe traumas sustaining U.S. civil society. The terms of the civil combination register the corporeal foremost in relation to degrees of peril,...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Modernism and the Affects of Racial Blackness
    (pp. 157-190)

    In the introduction to the prose collectionA Renaissance in Harlem, Lionel Bascom briefly describes the cultural significance of the Harlem Renaissance and its program, stating that “the spiritual, social, and literary fervor that raced through Harlem during these years could be called the greatest period of self-discovery in African-American history after the Civil War and before the start of the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.”¹ He writes further that the participating artists “used Harlem’s growing popularity as a unique opportunity to do what reconstruction after the Civil War had not done—create a positive public image of blacks...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 191-194)

    I first met Lindon Barrett some years ago when he was a young assistant professor at UC Irvine and I (Dwight McBride) was an even younger graduate student at UCLA. He was teaching a graduate seminar at UCLA, and we had been introduced to one another by mutual friends and colleagues. Lindon was, in a word, brilliant. He had a quality of mind one scarcely finds inside or outside of the academy. His was an expansive intellect interested in everything from basketball and music to the finer points of the western philosophical tradition and poststructuralist theory. The sharpness and laser...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 195-212)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-230)
  12. Index
    (pp. 231-236)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-244)