African American History Month

To celebrate African American History Month, we’re featuring some of our most recent books and a journal issue focused on that topic.

Cahan cover image, 5897-8In Mounting Frustration Susan E. Cahan uncovers the moment when the civil rights movement reached New York City’s elite art galleries. Focusing on three controversial exhibitions that integrated African American culture and art, Cahan shows how the art world’s racial politics is far more complicated than overcoming past exclusions.

In Shapeshifters Aimee Meredith Cox explores how young Black women in a Detroit homeless shelter contest stereotypes, critique their status as partial citizens, and negotiate poverty, racism, and gender violence to create and imagine lives for themselves. Based on eight years of fieldwork at the Fresh Start shelter, Cox shows how the shelter’s residents—who range in age from fifteen to twenty-two—employ strategic methods she characterizes as choreography to disrupt the social hierarchies and prescriptive narratives that work to marginalize them. Cox also uses these young women’s experiences to tell larger stories: of Detroit’s history, the Great Migration, deindustrialization, the politics of respectability, and the construction of Black girls and women as social problems. With Shapeshifters Cox gives a voice to young Black women who find creative and non-normative solutions to the problems that come with being young, Black, and female in America.

Sider cover image, 6008-7In Race Becomes Tomorrow Gerald M. Sider weaves together stories from his civil rights activism, his youth, and his experiences as an anthropologist to investigate the dynamic ways race has been constructed and lived in America since the 1960s. Tacking between past and present, Sider describes how political power, economic control, and racism inject chaos into the lives of ordinary people, especially African Americans, with surprising consequences. Sider’s stories—whether about cockroach races in immigrant homes, degrading labor conditions, or the claims and failures of police violence—provide numerous entry points into gaining a deeper understanding of how race and power both are and cannot be lived. They demonstrate that race is produced and exists in unpredictability, and that the transition from yesterday to tomorrow is anything but certain.

ddst_125The most recent issue of Social Text, “The Question of Recovery: Slavery, Freedom, and the Archive,” (number 125), edited by Laura Helton, Justin Leroy, Max A. Mishler, Samantha Seeley, and Shauna Sweeney features articles and two roundtables entitled, “Archives and Methods in the Study of Slavery and Freedom” and “Cartographies in the Archive: Mapping and the Digital Humanities.” This issue of Social Text takes as its starting point the generative tension between recovery as an imperative that is fundamental to historical writing and research—an imperative infused with political urgency by generations of scholar-activists—and the impossibility of recovery when engaged with archives whose very assembly and organization occlude certain historical subjects. In recent years, the field of Atlantic slavery and freedom has explicitly and forcefully grappled with this tension, as the limits of recovery have reshaped the parameters of scholarly debate.

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Chappell cover image, 6172-5We are pleased to announce that This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, by Charles E. Cobb, and Waking from the Dream, by David L. Chappell, are now published by Duke University Press.
In This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, Charles E. Cobb Jr. describes the vital role that armed self-defense played in the survival and liberation of black communities in America during the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s.
In Waking from the Dream, David L. Chappell provides a sweeping history of the fight to keep the civil rights movement alive in the decades following Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Lazarre cover image, 6166-4Twenty years ago, we published Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness. In this moving memoir Jane Lazarre, a white Jewish mother, describes her experience being married to an African American man and raising two sons as she learns, from family experience, teaching, and her studies, about the realities of racism in America. Next month, we are proud to be publishing a special Twentieth Anniversary Edition, which features a new preface, in which Lazarre’s elegy for Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and so many others, reminds us of the continued resonance of race in American life. As #BlackLivesMatter gains momentum, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness is more urgent and essential than ever.

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