What would it mean to “get over slavery”? Is such a thing possible? Is it even desirable? Should we perceive the psychic hold of slavery as a set of mental manacles that hold us back from imagining a postracist America? Or could the psychic hold of slavery be understood as a tool, helping us get a grip on the systemic racial inequalities and restricted liberties that persist in the present day?
Featuring original essays from an array of established and emerging scholars in the interdisciplinary field of African American studies, The Psychic Hold of Slavery offers a nuanced dialogue upon these questions. With a painful awareness that our understanding of the past informs our understanding of the present—and vice versa—the contributors place slavery’s historical legacies in conversation with twenty-first-century manifestations of antiblack violence, dehumanization, and social death.
Through an exploration of film, drama, fiction, performance art, graphic novels, and philosophical discourse, this volume considers how artists grapple with questions of representation, as they ask whether slavery can ever be accurately depicted, trace the scars that slavery has left on a traumatized body politic, or debate how to best convey that black lives matter. The Psychic Hold of Slavery thus raises provocative questions about how we behold the historically distinct event of African diasporic enslavement and how we might hold off the transhistorical force of antiblack domination.
Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism explores the long-overlooked links between black nationalist activism and the renaissance of artistic experimentation emerging from recent African American literature, visual art, and film. GerShun Avilez charts a new genealogy of contemporary African American artistic production that illuminates how questions of gender and sexuality guided artistic experimentation in the Black Arts Movement from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. As Avilez shows, the artistic production of the Black Arts era provides a set of critical methodologies and paradigms rooted in the disidentification with black nationalist discourses. Avilez's close readings study how this emerging subjectivity, termed aesthetic radicalism , critiqued nationalist rhetoric in the past. It also continues to offer novel means for expressing black intimacy and embodiment via experimental works of art and innovative artistic methods. A bold addition to an advancing field, Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism rewrites recent black cultural production even as it uncovers unexpected ways of locating black radicalism.