Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore
In 2016, Lawrence Jackson accepted a new job in Baltimore, searched for schools for his sons, and bought a house. It would all be unremarkable but for the fact that he had grown up in West Baltimore and now found himself teaching at Johns Hopkins, whose vexed relationship to its neighborhood, to the city and its history, provides fodder for this captivating memoir in essays.
With sardonic wit, Jackson describes his struggle to make a home in the city that had just been convulsed by the uprising that followed the murder of Freddie Gray. His new neighborhood, Homeland—largely White, built on racial covenants—is not where he is “supposed” to live. But his purchase, and his desire to pass some inheritance on to his children, provides a foundation for him to explore his personal and spiritual history, as well as Baltimore’s untold stories. Each chapter is a new exploration: a trip to the Maryland shore is an occasion to dilate on Frederick Douglass’s complicated legacy, an encounter at a Hopkins shuttle-bus stop becomes a meditation on public transportation and policing, and Jackson’s beleaguered commitment to his church opens a pathway to reimagine an urban community through jazz. Described as “angry, tender, incisive, and bracingly eloquent,” Shelter is an extraordinary biography of a city and a celebration of our capacity for domestic thriving. Jackson’s story leans on the essay to contain the raging absurdity of Black American life, establishing him as a maverick, essential writer.
Hold It Real Still: Clint Eastwood, Race, and the Cinema of the American West
The City Electric: Infrastructure and Ingenuity in Postsocialist Tanzania
Over the last twenty years of neoliberal reform, the power supply in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s metropolis, has become less reliable even as its importance has increased. Though mobile phones, televisions, and refrigerators have flooded the city, the electricity required to run these devices is still supplied by the socialist-era energy company Tanesco, which is characterized by increased fees, aging infrastructure, and a sluggish bureaucracy. While some residents contemplate off-grid solutions, others repair, extend, or tap into the state network with the assistance of freelance electricians or moonlighting utility employees. In The City Electric Michael Degani explores how electricity and its piracy has become a key site for urban Tanzanians to enact, experience, and debate their social contract with the state. Moving from the politics of generation contracts down to the street level experience of blackouts and disconnection patrols, he reveals the logics of infrastructural modification and their effects on everyday life. As politicians, residents, electricians, and utility inspectors all redistribute flows of payment and power, they reframe the energy grid as both a technical system and an ongoing experiment in collective interdependence.
Political science emerged as a response to the challenges of imperial administration and the demands of colonial rule. While not all political scientists were colonial cheerleaders, their thinking was nevertheless framed by colonial assumptions that influence the study of politics to this day.
This book offers students a lens through which to decolonize the main themes and issues of political science – from human nature, rights, and citizenship, to development and global justice. Not content with revealing the colonial legacies that still inform the discipline, the book also introduces students to a wide range of intellectual resources from the (post)colonial world that will help them think through the same themes and issues more expansively.
Decolonizing Politics is a much-needed critical guide for students of political science. It shifts the study of political science from the centers of power to its margins, where the majority of humanity lives. Ultimately, the book argues that those who occupy the margins are not powerless. Rather, marginal positions might afford a deeper understanding of politics than can be provided by mainstream approaches.
Black Land: Imperial Ethiopianism and African America
As the only African nation, with the exception of Liberia, to remain independent during the colonization of the continent, Ethiopia has long held significance for and captivated the imaginations of African Americans. In Black Land, Nadia Nurhussein delves into nineteenth- and twentieth-century African American artistic and journalistic depictions of Ethiopia, illuminating the increasing tensions and ironies behind cultural celebrations of an African country asserting itself as an imperial power.
Nurhussein navigates texts by Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Pauline Hopkins, Harry Dean, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, George Schuyler, and others, alongside images and performances that show the intersection of African America with Ethiopia during historic political shifts. From a description of a notorious 1920 Star Order of Ethiopia flag-burning demonstration in Chicago to a discussion of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie as Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1935, Nurhussein illuminates the growing complications that modern Ethiopia posed for American writers and activists. American media coverage of the African nation exposed a clear contrast between the Pan-African ideal and the modern reality of Ethiopia as an antidemocratic imperialist state: Did Ethiopia represent the black nation of the future, or one of an inert and static past?
Revising current understandings of black transnationalism, Black Land presents a well-rounded exploration of an era when Ethiopia’s presence in African American culture was at its height.
Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing
From the Cold War through today, the U.S. has quietly assisted dozens of regimes around the world in suppressing civil unrest and securing the conditions for the smooth operation of capitalism. Casting a new light on American empire, Badges Without Borders shows, for the first time, that the very same people charged with global counterinsurgency also militarized American policing at home.
Race and the Undeserving Poor: From Abolition to Brexit
Over recent years, British tabloid readers have become familiar with the concept of the “white working class,” and those who have been “left behind” by the metropolitan elites in their multicultural enclaves of the south. Such sentiments were weaponized by politicians on all sides of the political spectrum to fuel the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Brexit campaign. This racialized narrative has emerged again and again in mature democracies―in the political campaigns of Trump, Le Pen, and others―and continues to gain traction and legitimacy in the guise of economic nationalism and populism.
This book examines the historical development over the past two hundred years of a shifting postcolonial settlement in which the racialization of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor persists, and through which the white working class emerges. By situating his analysis within a postcolonial genealogy of British empire, Shilliam shows that the white working class is not an indigenous constituency, but a product of the struggles to consolidate and defend British imperial order that have shaped British society since the abolition of slavery. The book warns that by re-racializing the deserving poor as white, the political class is risking the well-being of all working classes and undermining any progress towards a multicultural Britain.
Chester B. Himes
The definitive biography of the groundbreaking African American author who had an extraordinary legacy on black writers globally.
In his Chester B. Himes (1909–1984), Lawrence P. Jackson depicts the improbable life of the controversial writer whose novels confront sexuality, racism, and social injustice. In absorbing detail, Jackson explores Chester Himes’s middle-class origins, eight years in prison, painful odyssey as a black World War II–era artist, and escape to Europe, where Himes became internationally famous for his Harlem detective series. Praised by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., as “one of the towering figures of the black literary tradition,” Himes, author of the bestsellers If He Hollers, Let Him Go and Cotton Comes to Harlem, published twenty literary works over a long career, enhanced by friendships with Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, and Carl Van Vechtern.
Chester B. Himes relies on exclusive interviews and unrestricted access to Himes’s full archives. Jackson restores the legacy of a fascinating maverick determined to etch disturbing portraits of American urban life that remain vivid and contemporary.
Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics
Over the past several years scholars, activists, and analysts have begun to examine the growing divide between the wealthy and the rest of us, suggesting that the divide can be traced to the neoliberal turn. “I’m not a business man; I’m a business, man.” Perhaps no better statement gets at the heart of this turn. Increasingly we’re being forced to think of ourselves in entrepreneurial terms, forced to take more and more responsibility for developing our “human capital.” Furthermore a range of institutions from churches to schools to entire cities have been remade, restructured to in order to perform like businesses. Finally, even political concepts like freedom, and democracy have been significantly altered. As a result we face higher levels of inequality than any other time over the last century.
In Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics, Lester K. Spence writes the first book length effort to chart the effects of this transformation on African American communities, in an attempt to revitalize the black political imagination. Rather than asking black men and women to “hustle harder” Spence criticizes the act of hustling itself as a tactic used to demobilize and disempower the communities most in need of empowerment.
Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem
In the midst of vast cultural and political shifts in the early twentieth century, politicians and cultural observers variously hailed and decried the rise of the “New Negro.” This phenomenon was most clearly manifest in the United States through the outpouring of Black arts and letters and social commentary known as the Harlem Renaissance. What is less known is how far afield of Harlem that renaissance flourished—how much the New Negro movement was actually just one part of a collective explosion of political protest, cultural expression, and intellectual debate all over the world.
In this volume, the Harlem Renaissance “escapes from New York” into its proper global context. These essays recover the broader New Negro experience as social movements, popular cultures, and public behavior spanned the globe from New York to New Orleans, from Paris to the Philippines and beyond. Escape from New York does not so much map the many sites of this early twentieth-century Black internationalism as it draws attention to how New Negroes and their global allies already lived. Resituating the Harlem Renaissance, the book stresses the need for scholarship to catch up with the historical reality of the New Negro experience. This more comprehensive vision serves as a lens through which to better understand capitalist developments, imperial expansions, and the formation of brave new worlds in the early twentieth century.
Contributors: Anastasia Curwood, Vanderbilt U; Frank A. Guridy, U of Texas at Austin; Claudrena Harold, U of Virginia; Jeannette Eileen Jones, U of Nebraska–Lincoln; Andrew W. Kahrl, Marquette U; Shannon King, College of Wooster; Charlie Lester; Thabiti Lewis, Washington State U, Vancouver; Treva Lindsey, U of Missouri–Columbia; David Luis-Brown, Claremont Graduate U; Emily Lutenski, Saint Louis U; Mark Anthony Neal, Duke U; Yuichiro Onishi, U of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Theresa Runstedtler, U at Buffalo (SUNY); T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Vanderbilt U; Michelle Stephens, Rutgers U, New Brunswick; Jennifer M. Wilks, U of Texas at Austin; Chad Williams, Brandeis U.
Rhetorics of Literacy: The Cultivation of American Dialect Poetry
Rhetorics of Literacy: The Cultivation of American Dialect Poetry explores the production and reception of dialect poetry in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America and investigates the genre’s rhetorical interest in where sound meets print. Dialect poetry’s popularity stems not only from its use as an entertaining distraction from “serious” poetry, but as a surprisingly complicated pedagogical tool collaborating with elite literary culture. Indeed, the intersections of the oral and textual aspects of the dialect poem, visible in both its composition and its reception, resulted in confusing and contradictory interactions with the genre.
In this innovative study, Nadia Nurhussein demonstrates how an art form that appears to be most closely linked to the vernacular is in fact preoccupied with investigating its distance from it. Although dialect poetry performance during this period has garnered more attention than the silent reading of it, the history of dialect poetry’s reception proves that readers invited the challenge of printed dialect into their lives in unexpected places, such as highbrow magazines and primary school textbooks. Attentiveness to the appearances of dialect poetry in print—in books, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, and other media—alongside its recitation are necessary to an understanding of its cultural impact.
Recontextualizing familiar and neglected poets, Rhetorics of Literacy proposes new literary genealogies and throws light upon the cultural and literary relevance of the laborious and strange reading practices associated with dialect poetry that made it distinct from other popular literary genres.
We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation
We have all been swept up by the momentum of the Occupy movement. We have seen the results of years of organizing in different communities come together in ways that few could have imagined, bolstered by the scores of people who have left the comfort of their daily routine behind and taken to the streets. Yet as a movement so overflowing with new social and political actors, we lack the framework we need to help us all to understand what a social movement is, to understand how change has happened in the past, to understand what this moment means and what this movement makes possible.
We Are Many is a reflection on Occupy from within the heart of the movement itself. Examining key questions: What worked? What didn’t? Why? How? Is it reproducible? The authors and activists in this collection point toward a movement-based framework for future organizing. Heavily illustrated and annotated, We Are Many is a celebration of what worked, and a thoughtful analysis of what didn’t.
My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War
Armed with only early boyhood memories, Lawrence P. Jackson begins his quest by setting out from his home in Baltimore for Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to try to find his late grandfather’s old home by the railroad tracks in Blairs. My Father’s Name tells the tale of the ensuing journey, at once a detective story and a moving historical memoir, uncovering the mixture of anguish and fulfillment that accompanies a venture into the ancestral past, specifically one tied to the history of slavery.
After asking around in Pittsylvania County and carefully putting the pieces together, Jackson finds himself in the house of distant relations. In the pages that follow, he becomes increasingly absorbed by the search for his ancestors and increasingly aware of how few generations an African American needs to map back in order to arrive at slavery, “a door of no return.” Ultimately, Jackson’s dogged research in libraries, census records, and courthouse registries enables him to trace his family to his grandfather’s grandfather, a man who was born or sold into slavery but who, when Federal troops abandoned the South in 1877, was able to buy forty acres of land. In this intimate study of a black Virginia family and neighborhood, Jackson vividly reconstructs moments in the lives of his father’s grandfather, Edward Jackson, and great-grandfather, Granville Hundley, and gives life to revealing narratives of Pittsylvania County, recalling both the horror of slavery and the later struggles of postbellum freedom.
My Father’s Name is a family story full of twists and turns—and one of haunting familiarity to many Americans, who may question whether the promises of emancipation have ever truly been fulfilled. It is also a resolute look at the duties that come with reclaiming and honoring Americans who survived slavery and a thoughtful meditation on its painful and enduring history.
Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics
Rap’s critique of police brutality in the 1980s. The Hip Hop Political Convention. The rise (and fall) of Kwame Kilpatrick, the “hip-hop mayor” of Detroit. Barack Obama echoing the body language of Jay-Z on the campaign trail.
A growing number of black activists and artists claim that rap and hip-hop are the basis of an influential new urban social movement. Simultaneously, black citizens evince concern with the effect that rap and hip-hop culture exerts on African American communities. According to a recent Pew survey conducted on the opinions of Black Americans, 71 percent of blacks think that rap is a bad influence. To what extent are African American hopes and fears about hip-hop’s potential political power justified? In Stare in the Darkness, Lester K. Spence answers this question using a blend of neoliberal analysis, survey data, experiments, and case studies.
Spence finds that rap does in fact influence black political attitudes. However, rap also reproduces rather than critiques neoliberal ideology. Furthermore, black activists seeking to create an innovative model of hip-hop politics are hamstrung by their reliance on outmoded forms of organizing. By considering the possibilities inherent in the most prolific and prominent activities of hip-hop politics, Stare in the Darkness reveals, in a clear and practical manner, the political consequences of rap culture for black publics.
In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939
In this intellectual history, Minkah Makalani reveals how early-twentieth-century black radicals organized an international movement centered on ending racial oppression, colonialism, class exploitation, and global white supremacy. Focused primarily on two organizations, the Harlem-based African Blood Brotherhood, whose members became the first black Communists in the United States, and the International African Service Bureau, the major black anticolonial group in 1930s London, In the Cause of Freedom examines the ideas, initiatives, and networks of interwar black radicals, as well as how they communicated across continents.
Through a detailed analysis of black radical periodicals and extensive research in U.S., English, Dutch, and Soviet archives, Makalani explores how black radicals thought about race; understood the ties between African diasporic, Asian, and international workers’ struggles; theorized the connections between colonialism and racial oppression; and confronted the limitations of international leftist organizations. Considering black radicals of Harlem and London together for the first time, In the Cause of Freedom reorients the story of blacks and Communism from questions of autonomy and the Kremlin’s reach to show the emergence of radical black internationalism separate from, and independent of, the white Left.
The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960
The Indignant Generation is the first narrative history of the neglected but essential period of African American literature between the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights era. The years between these two indispensable epochs saw the communal rise of Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, and many other influential black writers. While these individuals have been duly celebrated, little attention has been paid to the political and artistic milieu in which they produced their greatest works. With this commanding study, Lawrence Jackson recalls the lost history of a crucial era.
Looking at the tumultuous decades surrounding World War II, Jackson restores the “indignant” quality to a generation of African American writers shaped by Jim Crow segregation, the Great Depression, the growth of American communism, and an international wave of decolonization. He also reveals how artistic collectives in New York, Chicago, and Washington fostered a sense of destiny and belonging among diverse and disenchanted peoples. As Jackson shows through contemporary documents, the years that brought us Their Eyes Were Watching God, Native Son, and Invisible Man also saw the rise of African American literary criticism–by both black and white critics.
Fully exploring the cadre of key African American writers who triumphed in spite of segregation, The Indignant Generation paints a vivid portrait of American intellectual and artistic life in the mid-twentieth century.
Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius
Author, intellectual, and social critic, Ralph Ellison (1914-94) was a pivotal figure in American literature and history and arguably the father of African American modernism. Universally acclaimed for his first novel, Invisible Man, a masterpiece of modern fiction, Ellison was recognized with a stunning succession of honors, including the 1953 National Book Award. Despite his literary accomplishments and political activism, however, Ellison has received surprisingly sparse treatment from biographers. Lawrence Jackson’s biography of Ellison, the first when it was published in 2002, focuses on the author’s early life.
Powerfully enhanced by rare photographs, this work draws from archives, literary correspondence, and interviews with Ellison’s relatives, friends, and associates. Tracing the writer’s path from poverty in dust bowl Oklahoma to his rise among the literary elite, Jackson explores Ellison’s important relationships with other stars, particularly Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, and examines his previously undocumented involvement in the Socialist Left of the 1930s and 1940s, the black radical rights movement of the same period, and the League of American Writers. The result is a fascinating portrait of a fraternal cadre of important black writers and critics―and the singularly complex and intriguing man at its center.