The Past Is Not Dead: Facts, Fictions, and Enduring Racial Stereotypes

The Past Is Not Dead: Facts, Fictions, and Enduring Racial Stereotypes

The Past Is Not Dead: Facts, Fictions, and Enduring Racial Stereotypes

The Past Is Not Dead: Facts, Fictions, and Enduring Racial Stereotypes

Synopsis

Through one figure--Badin, eighteenth-century Afro-Caribbean slave given to the Swedish royal court--Allan Pred shows how stereotypes endure through the repeated confusion of facts and fiction, providing a highly original perspective on the perpetuation of racializing stereotypes in the West. In the first of two interlocking montages inspired by Walter Benjamin, the book focuses on Badin, who died in Stockholm in 1822, and representations of his life that appeared from the 1840s through the 1990s. In the second montage, Pred brings the late nineteenth century and the present into play, shifting to urban sites where racialized stereotyping is on public display, including a museum that has exhibited the bodily remains of the African male. Intriguing for its insight into the workings of race and immigration on the national imagination of a European nation--but with implications and ramifications far beyond that specific example--"The Past Is Not Dead is a bold inquiry into both the collective memoryand the amnesia of those who stereotype versus the personal remembering and forgetting of the stereotyped.

Excerpt

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “state of emergency” in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with that insight.

Walter Benjamin

In keeping with that insight? I can only lay forth my intentions.

This is a book that attempts to show, by way of telling Swedish example, the (con)fusions of fact and fiction, the fiFcAtCiTonS, through which racializing stereotypes are perpetuated and reenacted at dispersed sites; to show

the erosion-resistant sediments, the entangled webs of horizontal connection and situated practice, the multiple mundane means and contingencies, the ever-present structures of power through which racializing stereotypes and relations of domination and exploitation have been (f)actually (re)produced . . .

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