Film

New Books in November

This month, we’re offering a cornucopia of fresh titles in anthropology, media studies, sociology, history, native and indigenous studies, and more. Take a look at all of these exciting new books available in November!

978-1-4780-0649-7_prWhat does it mean to be a decolonial tourist? We are excited to present our first travel guide book,  Detours, edited by Hokulani K. Aikau and Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez.  In the book artists, activists, and scholars redirect readers from the fantasy of Hawai‘i as a tropical paradise and tourist destination toward a multilayered and holistic engagement with Hawai‘i’s culture, complex history, and the effects of colonialism. We’ll have lots of copies at the American Studies Association meeting in Honolulu later this month.

Mark Goodale’s ethnographic study of Bolivian politics and society between 2006 and 2015, A Revolution in Fragments, reveals the fragmentary and contested nature of the country’s radical experiments in pluralism, ethnic politics, and socioeconomic planning.colonialism.

In The Politics of Taste Ana María Reyes examines how the polarizing art of Beatriz González disrupted Cold War aesthetic discourses and the politics of class and modernization in 1960s Colombia.

Nicholas D’Avella offers an ethnographic reflection on the value of buildings in post-crisis Buenos Aires in Concrete Dreams, showing how everyday practices transform buildings into politically, economically, and socially consequential objects, and arguing that such local forms of value and practice suggest possibilities for building better futures.

In his engaging and moving book, Honeypot, E. Patrick Johnson combines magical realism, poetry, and performative writing to bear witness to the real-life stories of black southern queer women in ways that reveal the complexity of identity and the challenges these women face. Johnson is on a book tour for Honeypot. Look for a post later this month with all the dates.

In Trans Exploits Jian Neo Chen examines how contemporary trans of color artists are tracking and resisting their displacement and social marginalization through new forms of cultural expression, performance, and activism.

 

In Punctuations Michael J. Shapiro examines how the use of punctuation—conceived not as a series of marks but as a metaphor for the ways in which artistic genres engage with intelligibility—in art opens pathways for thinking through the possibilities for oppositional politics.

In a meditation on loss, inheritance, and survival, The Unspoken as Heritage, renowned historian Harry Harootunian explores the Armenian genocide’s multigenerational afterlives that remain at the heart of the Armenian diaspora by sketching the everyday lives of his parents, who escaped the genocide in the 1910s.

Tyler Denmead critically examines his role as the founder of New Urban Arts—a nonprofit arts program for young people of color in Providence, Rhode Island—and how despite its success, it unintentionally contributed to Providence’s urban renewal efforts, gentrification, and the displacement of people of color in The Creative Underclass.

Kamari Maxine Clarke explores the African Union’s pushback against the International Criminal Court in order to theorize affect’s role in shaping forms of justice in Affective Justice.

In Before the Flood, Jacob Blanc examines the creation of the Itaipu Dam—the largest producer of hydroelectric power in the world—on the Brazil–Paraguay border during the 1970s and 1980s to explore the long-standing conflicts around land, rights, indigeneity, and identity in rural Brazil.

In Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film, edited by Allyson Nadia Field and Marsha Gordon, the contributors examine the place and role of race in educational films, home movies, industry and government films, anthropological films, church films, and other forms of noncommercial filmmaking throughout the twentieth century.

Deborah A. Thomas uses the 2010 military and police incursion into the Kingston, Jamaica, Tivoli Gardens neighborhood as a point of departure for theorizing the roots of contemporary state violence in Jamaica and other post-plantation societies in Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation.

In Progressive Dystopia Savannah Shange traces the afterlives of slavery as lived in a progressive high school set in post-gentrification San Francisco, showing how despite the school’s sincere antiracism activism, it unintentionally perpetuated antiblackness through various practices.

In Sacred Men Keith L. Camacho examines the U.S. Navy’s war crimes tribunal in Guam between 1944 and 1949 which tried members of Guam’s indigenous Chamorro community and Japanese nationals and its role in shaping contemporary domestic and international laws regarding combatants, jurisdiction, and property.

Maile Arvin analyzes the history of racialization of Polynesians within the context of settler colonialism across Polynesia, especially in Hawai‘i, arguing that a logic of possession through whiteness animates European and Hawaiian settler colonialism in Possessing Polynesians.

978-1-4780-0621-3_prIn his experimental ethnography, Ethnography #9, Alan Klima examines moneylending, gambling, funeral casinos, and the consultations of spirits and mediums to predict winning lottery numbers to illustrate the relationship between contemporary Thai spiritual and financial practices and global capitalism’s abstraction of monetary value.

In Biogenetic Paradoxes of the Nation, Sakari Tamminen traces the ways in which the mandates of 1992’s Convention on Biological Diversity—hailed as the key symbol of a common vision for saving Earth’s biodiversity—contribute less to biodiversity conservation than to individual nations using genetic resources for economic and cultural gain.

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New Books in October

It’s official—fall has arrived! With the start of this new season, we’re releasing dynamic new reads in art and visual culture, anthropology, feminist studies, cultural studies, sociology, and more. Check out all of these exciting books available in October.

Continuing the work she began in The Promise of Happiness and Willful Subjects by taking up a single word and following its historical, intellectual, and political significance, Sara Ahmed explores how use operates as an organizing concept, technology of control, and tool for diversity work in What’s the Use?

In Where Histories Reside Priya Jaikumar examines seven decades of films shot on location in India to show how attending to filmed space reveals alternative timelines and histories of cinema as well as the myriad ways cinema constructs India as a place.

Eva Haifa Giraud contends in What Comes after Entanglement? that recent theory that foregrounds the ways that human existence is entangled with other nonhuman life and the natural world often undermine successful action and calls for new modes of activist organizing and theoretical critique.

The contributors to Reading Sedgwick (edited by Lauren Berlant) reflect on the long and influential career of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose pioneering work in queer theory has transformed understandings of affect, intimacy, politics, and identity.

Conceptualizing anthropology as a mode of practical and transformative inquiry in A Possible Anthropology, Anand Pandian stages an ethnographic encounter with the field in an effort to grasp its impact on the world and its potential for addressing and offering solutions to the profound crises of the present.

In Symbolic Violence Michael Burawoy brings Pierre Bourdieu into an extended debate with Marxism by outlining the parallels and divergences between Bourdieu’s thought and preeminent Marxist theorists including Gramsci, Fanon, Beauvoir, and Freire.

Achille Mbembe theorizes the genealogy of the contemporary world—one plagued by inequality, militarization, enmity, and a resurgence of racist, fascist, and nationalist forces—and calls for a radical revision of humanism a the means to create a more just society in Necropolitics.

In Fidel between the Lines Laura-Zoë Humphreys tracks late-socialist Cuba’s changing dynamics of social criticism and censorship through Cuban cinema and its cultural politics.

In A Fragile Inheritance, Saloni Mathur investigates the work of two seminal figures from the global South: the New Delhi-based critic and curator Geeta Kapur and contemporary multimedia artist Vivan Sundaram, illuminating  how their political and aesthetic commitments intersect and foreground uncertainty, difficulty, conflict, and contradiction.  

Ronak K. Kapadia examines multimedia visual art by artists from societies besieged by the US war on terror in Insurgent Aesthetics, showing how their art offers queer feminist critiques of US global warfare that forge new aesthetic and social alliances with which to sustain critical opposition to the global war machine.

In Eros Ideologies Laura E. Pérez analyzes Latina art to explore a new notion of decolonial thought and love based on the integration of body, mind, and spirit that offers a means to creating a more democratic and just present and future.

Edited by Frances Richard, I Stand in My Place with My Own Day Here features essays by more than fifty renowned international writers considering thirteen monumental works of art commissioned by The New School between 1930 and the present. We are distributing this beautiful art book for The New School.

Between Form and Content is a catalog that accompanied the first exhibition to focus on Jacob Lawrence’s experience at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1946, where his interaction with Josef Albers had a lasting impact on his future career. We are distributing this catalog for Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center.

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On Chantal Akerman: Camera Obscura’s 100th Issue

cob_34_1_100_coverCongratulations to Camera Obscura, which just published its 100th issue, “On Chantal Akerman”!

This special issue recognizes the work and legacy of Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman (1950–2015), among the world’s most influential filmmakers. Akerman and her film Jeanne Dielman were covered in the first issues of Camera Obscura.

Contributors to this issue include Camera Obscura‘s founding editors Janet Bergstrom and Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, Jeanne Dielman cinematographer Babette Mangolte, leading Akerman scholars Maureen Turim and Ivone Margulies, film editor Claire Atherton, and composer and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton, among many others.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, freely available.

Congratulations to MacArthur Fellow Wu Tsang

Congratulations to filmmaker and performance artist Wu Tsang on winning a 2018 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. Tsang is the co-author (with Fred Moten) of “Sudden Rise at a Given Tune,” the textual component of an eponymous performance by Tsang and Moten given at the Tate Modern, London on March 25, 2017. The text is featured in our journal South Atlantic Quarterly and is openly available for three months.

Tsang was the writer, director, and editor of—as well as a central character in—the 2012 feature film Wildness, which was reviewed in Transgender Studies Quarterly. Read the article here, where it is openly available for three months. She has also created a number of other films that have been exhibited or screened in many venues around the world.

The MacArthur Foundation praises Tsang for reimagining “racialized, gendered representations beyond the visible frame to encompass the multiple and shifting perspectives through which we experience the social realm.”

Watch a video of Tsang discussing her work:

New Books in October

It’s October and our fall publishing season is in full swing. Check out all the great books coming out this month.

The contributors to The Apartment Complex, edited by Pamela Robertson Wojcik, offer global perspectives on films from a diverse set of genres—from film noir and comedy to horror and musicals—that use apartment living to explore modern urbanism’s various forms and possibilities.

978-1-4780-0130-0In See It Feelingly Ralph James Savarese showcases the voices of autistic readers by sharing their unique insights into literature and their sensory experiences of the world, thereby challenging common claims that people with autism have a limited ability to understand language, to partake in imaginative play, and to generate the complex theory of mind necessary to appreciate literature.

In Channeling the State Naomi Schiller explores how community television in Venezuela created openings for the urban poor to embrace the state as a collective process with the potential for creating positive social change.

978-1-4780-0105-8.jpgJ. Lorand Matory’s The Fetish Revisited casts an Afro-Atlantic eye on European social theory to show how Marx’s and Freud’s conceptions of the fetish illuminate and misrepresent the nature of Africa’s gods while demonstrating that Afro-Atlantic gods have their own social logic that is no less rational than European social theories.

The contributors to the volume Digital Sound Studies, edited by Mary Caton Lingold, Darren Mueller, and Whitney Trettien, explore the transformative potential of digital sound studies to create rich, multisensory experiences within scholarship, building on the work of digital humanists to evaluate and historicize new technologies and forms of knowledge.

Domestication Gone Wild, a collection edited by Heather Anne Swanson, Marianne Elisabeth Lien, and Gro B. Ween, offers a revisionary exploration of domestication as a narrative, ideal, and practice that reveals how our relations with animals and plants are intertwined with the politics of human difference.

978-0-8223-7075-8.jpgIn Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty J. Kēhaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law, showing how Hawaiian elites’ approaches to reforming land, gender, and sexual regulation in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of indigenous Hawaiians.

James N. Green’s Exiles within Exiles is a biography of the Brazilian revolutionary and social activist Herbert Daniel, whose life and political commitment shaped contemporary debates about social justice, gay rights, and HIV/AIDS.

A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History, by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks and Urmi Engineer Willoughby, is a guide for college and high school teachers who are teaching women, gender, and sexuality history for the first time, for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their courses, for those who are training future teachers to prepare their own syllabi, and for teachers who want to incorporate the subject into their world history classes.

978-0-938989-42-4.jpgPop América, 1965-1975, edited by Esther Gabara, is a bilingual, fully illustrated catalogue that accompanies a traveling exhibition of the same name. Pop América, 1965-1975 presents a vision of Pop art across the Americas as a whole. The exhibition appears at the McNay Museum of Art in San Antonio from October 4, 2018 until January 13, 2019 and then moves to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from February 21 to July 21, 2019. It will finally be featured at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University from September 21 to December 8, 2019.

In the still-timely twentieth anniversary edition of Written in Stone—which includes a new preface and an extensive afterword—Sanford Levinson considers the debates and conflicts surrounding controversial monuments to public figures throughout the American South and the world.

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Top Latin American Studies Titles Adopted for Course Use

cuba readerOur Latin American Studies authors are well known for their work in anthropology, art, cultural studies, Caribbean studies, Chicanx and Latinx studies, history, literature, film and media, and politics.

Our Latin American studies e-book collection includes over 500 titles in these subject areas. Many of our journals also cover Latin America. If you’re interested in gaining access to these resources, have your librarian contact our Library Relations team to get more information.

Here are the top 8 Latin American studies titles adopted for course use:

View the title list for the Latin American Studies collection, which features more than 500 e-books.

Black Fashion

Nka_37_00_CoverIn the most recent issue of Nka entitled “Black fashion: Art. Pleasure. Politics.,” special issue editor Noliwe Rooks argues that black fashion is a key, though underexplored, facet of black history, culture, and identity in the African diaspora. Contributors to the issue include academics, artists, journalists and writers, and a filmmaker. From the introduction: “While it is not an encyclopedic compilation of thinking about race, art, politics, or fashion, each contribution functions as an individual lens, so to speak, capturing crucial snapshots of particular moments, figures, and events that are central to understanding the whole. Taken together, the texts in this volume explore various definitions and meanings of black fashion as a launching point for thinking about race, gender, politics, power, and class.”

Included in this issue are articles on topics such as Josephine Baker and skin fashion, a conversation with Anthony Barboza and Bill Gaskins, Janelle Monáe and fashion as art, fashion and black masculinity, the “afro look,” and #TeamNatural, examining the relationship between black hair and community in digital media. Read the introduction, made freely available, and browse the table-of-contents to learn more about this special issue of Nka.

Lewis cover image, 5934-0If you are looking for further reading that explores the intersection of fashion with race, politics, and class, consider Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures by Reina Lewis. In the shops of London’s Oxford Street, girls wear patterned scarves over their hair as they cluster around makeup counters. Alongside them, hip twenty-somethings style their head-wraps in high black topknots to match their black boot-cut trousers. Participating in the world of popular mainstream fashion—often thought to be the domain of the West—these young Muslim women are part of an emergent cross-faith transnational youth subculture of modest fashion. In treating hijab and other forms of modest clothing as fashion, Reina Lewis counters the overuse of images of veiled women as “evidence” in the prevalent suggestion that Muslims and Islam are incompatible with Western modernity. Muslim Fashion contextualizes modest wardrobe styling within Islamic and global consumer cultures, interviewing key players including designers, bloggers, shoppers, store clerks, and shop owners. Focusing on Britain, North America, and Turkey, Lewis provides insights into the ways young Muslim women use multiple fashion systems to negotiate religion, identity, and ethnicity.

Pham cover image, 6030-8In Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet: Race, Gender, and the Work of Personal Style Blogging the first ever book devoted to a critical investigation of the personal style blogosphere, Minh-Ha T. Pham examines the phenomenal rise of elite Asian bloggers who have made a career of posting photographs of themselves wearing clothes on the Internet. Pham understands their online activities as “taste work” practices that generate myriad forms of capital for superbloggers and the brands they feature. A multifaceted and detailed analysis, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet addresses questions concerning the status and meaning of “Asian taste” in the early twenty-first century, the kinds of cultural and economic work Asian tastes do, and the fashion public and industry’s appetite for certain kinds of racialized eliteness. Situating blogging within the historical context of gendered and racialized fashion work while being attentive to the broader cultural, technological, and economic shifts in global consumer capitalism, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet has profound implications for understanding the changing and enduring dynamics of race, gender, and class in shaping some of the most popular work practices and spaces of the digital fashion media economy.

978-0-8223-4603-6Monica L. Miller’s Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity is a pioneering cultural history of the black dandy, from his emergence in Enlightenment England to his contemporary incarnations in the cosmopolitan art worlds of London and New York. It is populated by sartorial impresarios such as Julius Soubise, a freed slave who sometimes wore diamond-buckled, red-heeled shoes as he circulated through the social scene of eighteenth-century London, and Yinka Shonibare, a prominent Afro-British artist who not only styles himself as a fop but also creates ironic commentaries on black dandyism in his work. Interpreting performances and representations of black dandyism in particular cultural settings and literary and visual texts, Monica L. Miller emphasizes the importance of sartorial style to black identity formation in the Atlantic diaspora.

Crowston cover image, 5528-1Continuing in this historical vein, Credit, Fashion, Sex: Economies of Regard in Old Regime France by Clare Haru Crowston examines the concept of credit and fashion in Old Regime France. At that time in France, credit was both a central part of economic exchange and a crucial concept for explaining dynamics of influence and power in all spheres of life. Contemporaries used the term credit to describe reputation and the currency it provided in court politics, literary production, religion, and commerce. Moving beyond Pierre Bourdieu’s theorization of capital, this book establishes credit as a key matrix through which French men and women perceived their world. As Crowston demonstrates, credit unveils the personal character of market transactions, the unequal yet reciprocal ties binding society, and the hidden mechanisms of political power.

Allison McCracken on Sinatra and the Romantic Crooner Persona

AllisonMcCrackenDecember 12 is the centennial of Frank Sinatra’s birth. In Ol’ Blue Eyes’s honor, we offer a guest post by Allison McCracken, author of Real Men Don’t Sing: Crooning in American Culture. McCracken is Associate Professor of American Studies at DePaul University.

 

Frank Sinatra: “Why do you run after girls all the time?”

Gene Kelly: “I’ll tell you when your voice changes, Junior.”

–MGM’s On The Town, 1950

McCracken cover image, 5936-4In my book Real Men Don’t Sing, I detail the birth of the first American romantic crooning idol in 1929, Rudy Vallée, whose stardom established the affective structures and behavior we still associate with pop idols (the devoted microphoned lover, the swooning female crowds), and whose popularity provoked the cultural backlash that established the reception framework for  every pop idol to follow: his commercial success and influence had to be contained through his artistic devaluation, the ridicule of his “hysterical” female audiences, and his perceived emasculation. During these early years of pop music, the 1930s and 1940s, only romantic crooner Bing Crosby attained sufficient masculine bona fides to ensure a long and respectable pop singing career, which he did through diversifying his singing portfolio, embracing normative family life and religious affiliation, and projecting a “cool” attitude that largely erased the romantic crooner’s emotional vulnerability and sensitivity.

Part of the reason Crosby was unrivaled as “America’s Crooner” for so long was that no one else could successfully combine current codes of masculinity with a crooning voice. From the late 1930s well through the early 1960s, young men who sang romantic songs to women in films or pop music were almost always constructed as arrested, earnest, sexless, often simple-minded young men (Dick Haymes, Eddie Fisher, Frankie Avalon) who would presumably grow out of their childish crooning phase. In the meantime, their daydreaming and their music were jokes readily available for commercial exploitation but never to be taken seriously, and their audiences were constructed as entirely female, young, and mindless.

23-gene-kelly-theredlistSinatra is the most obvious case in point. As the above exchange between Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra suggests, a crooner needed to wait until “his voice changed” before he could attain adult masculinity, which is defined in that film (and others) as the desire to aggressively “chase after” women – as Kelly does — rather than passively adore them. Sinatra’s immature, asexual early crooner is most conspicuous in his MGM films with Gene Kelly, Anchors Aweigh (directed by George Sidney, 1945), Take Me Out to The Ballgame (directed by Busby Berkely, 1949), and On the Town (directed by Stanley Donan and Gene Kelly, 1950).  The fact that Sinatra could be portrayed as an unsuitable mate because of his immaturity at the very moment in which he was the “swooner crooner” idol of millions of adoring young women is evidence of how well established these conventions had become by the mid-late 1940s. Notably, he is paired in the latter two films with comedian Betty Garrett, who avidly pursues him. Garrett’s character functions as a comment on the inappropriate sexual assertiveness and gender deviance of the swooner-crooner fan.

swooner_crooner_by_lanilioness-d4l4xdy.jpgOne of the best examples of the cultural distinction between the young romantic crooner Sinatra, and the fully, appropriately masculine crooner Bing Crosby is the brilliant animated cartoon Swooner Crooner, directed by Frank Tashlin. In this cartoon, crooning fans are portrayed as hens who need to produce eggs for the war effort. The hens are so besotted with Sinatra’s voice that they leave their workplaces to follow his voice, swooning in pleasure. The despairing farmer, Porky Pig, auditions several singers to try and lure the hens back to work, but only Bing Crosby can get them to return to the nest and do their domestic duty. The Sinatra crooner and his fans fit the crooner paradigm of social deviance (vulnerable masculinity, feminine aggression and self-pleasure), while Crosby’s masculine normativity lures women back to their assigned feminine roles as social subordinates and domestic producers. Ultimately, the short ends as Sinatra joins Crosby and egg production soars.

Like Crosby, however, Sinatra would eventually be able to attain “adult” masculinity, but only by winning over straight men in the 1950s. In order to artistically legitimize his sensitive, emotionally raw performances, he drew on method acting discourses of the time (associated with James Dean and Marlon Brando) and “authentic” Italian bel canto art singing; he also worked with respected musicians and arrangers. At the same time, his persona changed to reflect hyper-masculine behavior: womanizing, drinking, gambling, and possible mafia ties. Like Crosby, Sinatra needed to prove his adherence to 1950s standards of cultural legitimacy and white masculinity to ensure career longevity as a romantic singer.

To order Allison McCracken’s Real Men Don’t Sing at a 30% discount, enter coupon code E15MCCRA at checkout.

 

100 Years of The Birth of a Nation, or, The Persistence of Cinematic Resistance

The film The Birth of a Nation premiered in Los Angeles on February 8, 1915. In this guest post, Allyson Nadia Field, author of Uplift Cinema: The Emergence of African American Film and the Possibility of Black Modernity (June 2015) considers its legacy.

birth of a nation posterOn the centennial of D.W. Griffith’s epic film The Birth of a Nation, two things are striking—how egregious the film’s racism is and how its racism resonates a hundred years later. The first blockbuster of American cinema has long been a flashpoint for film scholars who have recognized the aesthetic, industrial and cultural significance of the film while lamenting its portrayal of African Americans. Some have argued that the fact that its technical mastery is in the service of the subjugation of a people indicates the inseparability of the film’s content from its form. The film then serves as an object lesson in film form and ideology—a reminder that the very language of cinema, as it would develop into a codified practice in the ensuing years, is deeply imbricated in exclusionary politics, racial slander, and the worst kind of fear mongering.

Yet The Birth of a Nation resonates today in the most insidious ways. The film’s portrayal of African Americans (both in blackface and with Black actors) and its imagination of Black excesses, violence, sexual predatory behavior, and the justified white response of violence, voter intimidation, and forceful assertion of supremacy are all prevalent in our society and today’s media landscape. A hundred years later, they might have (slightly) different iterations, but they are ever present. And visual media are just as central to the way the nation understands itself, its citizens, and its sense of self-definition. Sadly, The Birth of a Nation has as much to teach us about our own time as it does about the racial paranoia of 1915.

Depressing, to be sure. However, there’s a story of resistance that parallels this haunting legacy of The Birth of a Nation.

Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Micheaux

From its first appearance in February 1915, The Birth of a Nation catalyzed mobilized responses from African American groups and their allies. The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, Oscar Micheaux, and other Black filmmaking enterprises refuted the claims of The Birth of a Nation through filmic counterimages aimed at Black audiences. These efforts were not just on the level of image but represented a rethinking of film form.  As such, Race cinema can be understood as an oppositional cinema.  Yet, prior to these early Black filmmaking ventures—and even prior to The Birth of a Nation—African American filmmakers and institutions mobilized motion picture technology in the service of the uplift of Black citizens in innovative and creative ways. The Birth of a Nation might have brought the issue of the (mis)representation of African Americans to the national stage, but Black filmmakers had long been attuned to the power of the cinema to perpetuate—and challenge—racism. Black filmmaking entrepreneurs like George Broome (Boston), William Foster (Chicago), and Hunter Haynes (New York) used film as a tool of African American self-representation, resistance to the pervasive and demeaning media portrayals of Black people, and for the social, economic, and political uplift of the race. (This is the subject of Uplift Cinema).

If visual culture and the media at large perpetuated a dehumanizing image of Black people in the early 20th century, the message from African Americans then, as now, was a resounding “Black Lives Matter!” The incongruence between how they mattered in screen representations like those of The Birth of a Nation and through the lens of African American filmmakers would become a central concern of Black filmmakers, audiences, and scholars of Black cinema for a century to come. A historical epic, The Birth of a Nation cannot be relegated to history as long as the issues it portrays, the rhetoric it employs, and the ideology it espouses continue to resonate in 2015 with the shrill determination of the most pernicious of national myths. The voices of resistance to this representational hegemony might not have the platform of the blockbuster, but their persistence marks a century of struggle over image, form, and narrative that has continued to meet the challenges posed by a mass media representationally hostile to African Americans.

Allyson Nadia Field is Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

New Books in February

It’s hard to believe how fast January flew by, and February’s already here! We have a lot of great new books coming out this month, on a variety of subjects. Check them out below!

Okeke Agulu cover image, 5746-9Written by one of the foremost scholars of African art, Chika Okeke-Agulu, and featuring more than 125 color images, Postcolonial Modernism chronicles the emergence of artistic modernism in Nigeria in the heady years surrounding political independence in 1960.

Recycled Stars, by Mary R. Desjardins, considers the how female stars’ images and persona acquire multiple meanings as they circulate across media. Focusing on the rise of television and gossip magazines in the 1950s, and on stars like Lucille Ball and Gloria Swanson, the book explores the play between familiarity and novelty that new media use to appeal to audiences.

Thompson cover image, 5807-7In Shine, art historian Krista Thompson analyzes photographic practices in the Caribbean and the United States to show how African diasporic youth use the process of creating images to represent themselves in the public sphere and to communicate with other Afro-diasporic communities.

Hagar Kotef’s book, Movement and the Ordering of Freedom, examines the roles of mobility and immobility in the history of political thought and the structuring of political spaces.

In The Color of Modernity, Barbara Weinstein focuses on race, gender, and regionalism in the formation of national identities in Brazil.

Zhang cover image, 5856-5The Impotence Epidemic, by Everett Yuehong Zhang, is an ethnography of impotence as a medical and social phenomenon, in which the author argues that the recent increase in Chinese men seeking treatment for impotence represents a shift in changing sexual attitudes in capitalist China.

In Loneliness and Its Opposite, Don Kulick and Jens Rydström argue that for people with disabilities, being able to explore their sexuality is an issue of fundamental social justice. The authors analyze how Sweden and Denmark engage with the sexuality of people with disabilities; whereas Sweden hinders sexuality, Denmark supports it through the work of third-party sexual helpers.