Troubling Beginnings: Trans(Per)Forming African-American History and Identity

Troubling Beginnings: Trans(Per)Forming African-American History and Identity

Troubling Beginnings: Trans(Per)Forming African-American History and Identity

Troubling Beginnings: Trans(Per)Forming African-American History and Identity

Synopsis

This interdisciplinary and creative study examines how African American culture is presented in American films and other media, and is a provocative re-reading of the historiography of black culture.

Excerpt

There is no identity—national, cultural, or individual—which does not imply both a place and a time. There is no identity that is not both mise-en-scène and narrative—in personal memory and common history.

Victor Burgin

It is a very grave matter to be forced to imitate a people for whom you know—which is the price of your performance and survival—you do not exist. It is hard to imitate a people whose existence appears, mainly, to be made tolerable by their bottomless gratitude that they are not, thank heaven, you.

James Baldwin

From the very beginning, speaking comfortably of African-American identity formation has been a difficult, almost impossible act. For in order to do so, to utter speculations about the being inherent to being African American, one must reconcile the relationship between the African American—optimistically figured as a subject—and the narratives of communal selfhood that have come to constitute African-American history. The precarious status of AfricanAmerican subjectivity, and the often-thorny function of reconstructed AfricanAmerican historical narratives, produces a profound quandary for anyone seeking to understand and represent African Americans as agents in history; theirs is a quandary that leaves one troubled and altogether uncomfortable.

Speaking of African-American identity is troubling and almost impossible not only because of the historical materiality of disturbing moments like the Atlantic Slave Trade, plantation experiences, community supported lynching, Jim Crow laws, systematic social marginalization, and state sanctioned violence and captivity, but also because of the meanings attached to these periods of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.