Migrating the Black Body

The African Diaspora and Visual Culture

Edited by Leigh Raiford and Heike Raphael-Hernandez

  • Published: March 2017
  • Subject Listing: African American Studies; Visual Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 392 pp., 64 bandw illus., 21 color plates, 7 x 10 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Migrating the Black Body explores how visual media-from painting to photography, from global independent cinema to Hollywood movies, from posters and broadsides to digital media, from public art to graphic novels-has shaped diasporic imaginings of the individual and collective self. How is the travel of black bodies reflected in reciprocal black images? How is blackness forged and remade through diasporic visual encounters and reimagined through revisitations with the past? And how do visual technologies structure the way we see African subjects and subjectivity? This volume brings together an international group of scholars and artists who explore these questions in visual culture for the historical and contemporary African diaspora. Examining subjects as wide-ranging as the appearance of blackamoors in Russian and Swedish imperialist paintings, the appropriation of African and African American liberation images for Chinese Communist Party propaganda, and the role of YouTube videos in establishing connections between Ghana and its international diaspora, these essays investigate routes of migration, both voluntary and forced, stretching across space, place, and time.
Leigh Raiford is associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle and coeditor of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory. Heike Raphael-Hernandez is professor of English at the University of Maryland University College, Europe and professor of American Studies at the University of Wurzburg, Germany. She is the author of The Utopian Aesthetics of Three African American Women (Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Julie Dash): The Principle of Hope and editor of Blackening Europe: The African American Presence. The contributors are Rushay Booysen, Kiersten Chace, Cedric Essi, Cheryl Finley, Robeson Taj Frazier, Sonja Georgi, Robin J. Hayes, Carsten Junker, Charles I. Nero, Irina Novikova, Tavia Nyong'o, Joachim Ostlund, Alan Rice, Julia Roth, Reginold Royston, Karen N. Salt, Darieck Scott, Krista Thompson, Pia Wiegmink, and Lyneise Williams.

"Exploring the migratory circuits through which identities are performed and positioned in visual encounters of many different kinds, this collection ranges far and wide on a global scale to deliver rich insights into the multiple meanings of blackness. The transdisciplinary inquiry activated in these pages renews the urgency of understanding how aesthetics and politics are articulated in affective experience, and in so doing Migrating the Black Body opens a fresh chapter in the critical dialogue between diaspora studies and visual culture studies."
-Kobena Mercer, author of Travel and See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s

"Migrating the Black Body enunciates a new approach to black visuality by recentering the role of visual media in imagining blackness and diaspora individually and collectively. This exceptional collection deftly interrogates the intersection of diasporic blackness and visual culture from the eighteenth century to the present and across a vast transnational landscape, engaging an extraordinary variety of visual texts and methodologies along the way."
-Tina Campt, author of Image Matters: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe


Introduction: Leigh Raiford and Heike Raphael-Hernandez

Part One Making Blackness Serve
1. Containing Bodies-Enscandalizing Enslavement: Stasis and Movement at the Juncture of Slave-Ship Images and Texts /Carsten Junker
2. Russian Blackamoors: From Grand-Manner Portraiture to Alphabet in Pictures / Irina Novikova
3. Migrating Images of the Black Body Politic and the Sovereign State: Haiti in the 1850s / Karen N. Salt
4. Playing the White Knight: Badin, Chess, and Black Self-Fashioning in Eighteenth-Century Sweden / Joachim ůstlund
5. Making Blackness Serve China: The Image of Afro-Asia in Chinese Political Posters / Robeson Taj Frazier

Part Two Dreaming Diasporas
6. The Glamorous One-Two Punch: Visualizing Celebrity, Masculinity, and Boxer Alfonso Teofilo Brown in Early Twentieth-Century Paris / Lyneise Williams
7. The Here and Now of Eslanda Robeson's African Journey / Leigh Raiford
8. Black and Cuba: An Interview with Filmmaker Robin J. Hayes / Robin J. Hayes and Julia Roth
9. Return to Which Roots? Interracial Documemoirs by Macky Alston, Eliaichi Kimaro, and Mo Asumang / Cedric Essi
10. Dreaming Diasporas / Cheryl Finley

Part Three Differently Black
11. Differently Black: The Fourth Great Migration and Black Catholic Saints in Ramin Bahrani's Goodbye Solo and Jim Sheridan's In America / Charles I. Nero
12. Coloured in South Africa: An Interview with Filmmaker Kiersten Dunbar Chace and Photojournalist Rushay Booysen / Sonja Georgi and Pia Wiegmink
13. When Home Meets Diaspora at the Door of No Return: Cinematic Encounters in Sankofa and Little Senegal / Heike Raphael-Hernandez
14. Of Plastic Ducks and Cockle Pickers: African Atlantic Artists and Critiques of Bonded Labor across Chronologies / Alan Rice
15. At Home, Online: Affective Exchange and the Diasporic Body in Ghanaian Internet Video / Reginold A. Royston

Part 4 Afrofabulation
16. Habeas Ficta: Fictive Ethnicity, Affecting Representations, and Slaves on Screen / Tavia Nyong'o
17. The Black Body as Photographic Image: Video Light in Postcolonial Jamaica / Krista Thompson
18. The Not-Yet Justice League: Fantasy, Redress, and Transatlantic Black History on the Comic Book Page / Darieck Scott

List of Contributors