This essay presents the idea of James Baldwin as a freedom writer, the organizing idea of
my biography in progress. As a freedom writer, Baldwin was a revolutionary intellectual,
an essayist and novelist committed unfailingly to the realization of racial justice,
interracial political equality, and economic democracy. While the book is still in
process, this short essay narrates autobiographically how I came to meet and know
Baldwin’s work, explains in critical fashion my work in relation to existing biographies,
and reflects interpretively my thoughts-in- progress on this fascinating and captivating
figure of immense historical and social consequence.
This book can be described as an 'oblique memoir'. The central underlying and repeated themes of the book are exile and displacement; lives (and deaths) during the Third Reich; mother-daughter and sibling relationships; the generational transmission of trauma and experience; transatlantic reflections; and the struggle for creative expression. Stories mobilised, and people encountered, in the course of the narrative include: the internment of aliens in Britain during the Second World War; cultural life in Rochester, New York, in the 1920s; the social and personal meanings of colour(s). It also includes the industrialist and philanthropist, Henry Simon of Manchester, including his relationship with the Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen; the liberal British campaigner and MP of the 1940s, Eleanor Rathbone; reflections on the lives and images of spinsters. The text is supplemented and interrupted throughout by images (photographs, paintings, facsimile documents), some of which serve to illustrate the story, others engaging indirectly with the written word. The book also explains how forced exile persists through generations through a family history. It showcases the differences between English and American cultures. The book focuses on the incidence of cancers caused by exposure to radioactivity in England, and the impact it had on Anglo-American relations.
I Am Not Your Negro (2016) takes its direction from the notes for a book
entitled “Remember this House” that James Baldwin left unfinished, a book about his three
friends—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.— their murders, and their
intertwining legacies. The film examines the prophetic shadow Baldwin’s work casts on
twentieth- and twenty-first-century American politics and culture. Peck compiles archival
material from Baldwin’s interviews on The Dick Cavett Show, his 1965 Cambridge lecture,
and a series of banal images indexing the American dream. Juxtaposed against this
mythology is footage of Dorothy Counts walking to school, the assassination of black
leaders and activists, KKK rallies, and the different formations of the contemporary
carceral state. Our conversation examines Peck’s role as a filmmaker and his relationship
with the Baldwin estate. Additionally, we discussed a series of aesthetic choices he
fought to include in the film’s final cut, directing Samuel L. Jackson as the voice for
the film, the similarities and shifts he wanted to document in American culture since the
1960s, and some of the criticism he has received for not emphasizing more Baldwin’s
life for even near-high-flyers; but during their time at
Rochester they did not feel, as some at Hull did, that they were in a
backwater and only waiting for a call … Almost all of them believed …
that we had to be friendly one to another, and the more so because
academic life in the States is regarded as more of an odd backwater
even than it is in England.
He tells stories about his encounters with colleagues, neighbours and
students, always reflecting in interesting ways on the differences
between English and Americancultures. This is something he is
Bordering intimacy is a study of how borders and dominant forms of intimacy, such as family, are central to the governance of postcolonial states such as Britain. The book explores the connected history between contemporary border regimes and the policing of family with the role of borders under European and British empires. Building upon postcolonial, decolonial and black feminist theory, the investigation centres on how colonial bordering is remade in contemporary Britain through appeals to protect, sustain and make family life. Not only was family central to the making of colonial racism but claims to family continue to remake, shore up but also hide the organisation of racialised violence in liberal states. Drawing on historical investigations, the book investigates the continuity of colonial rule in numerous areas of contemporary government – family visa regimes, the policing of sham marriages, counterterror strategies, deprivation of citizenship, policing tactics, integration policy. In doing this, the book re-theorises how we think of the connection between liberal government, race, family, borders and empire. In using Britain as a case, this opens up further insights into the international/global circulations of liberal empire and its relationship to violence.
This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.
its most vivacious and adventurous period in the 1920s and 1930s, the Muralist
Movement variously captured revolutionary optimism, humanism and suffering. Just as José Martí and José Enrique Rodó demanded a place for America in
schemes of world history, the muralists implored the world of the arts to find a
place for an original Mexican culture. Along with other modernist artists they
made significant contributions to the cross-currents of Latin Americanculture.
Cross-currents also washed through José Mariátegui’s Marxism. His outlook was
See Alison Landsberg, ‘Prosthetic Memory:
The Logic and Politics of Memory in Modern AmericanCulture’
(PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 1996), p. 13.
See Alison Landsberg, ‘America, the
Holocaust, and the Mass Culture of Memory: Toward a Radical Politics
of Empathy’, New German
Rowe and Rick Berg (eds), The Vietnam War and AmericanCulture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), p.
Stephen Vlastos, ‘America’s
“Enemy”: The Absent Presence in Revisionist Vietnam War
History’, in John Carlos Rowe and Rick Berg (eds), The
Sarah Orne Jewett, The Tory Lover, and Walter Scott, Waverley
not unlikely that, as a friend and early supporter of Jewett, Howells had discussed such matters with her.
See Robin Gilmour, ‘Scott and the Victorian Novel: The Case of Wuthering
Heights’, in J.H. Alexander and David Hewitt (eds), Scott and His Inﬂuence,
Aberdeen, Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 1983, pp. 363–71, for
such inﬂuences on the English provincial novel.
T.J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation
of AmericanCulture, 1880–1920, New York, Pantheon Books, 1981, 105. For
a fuller discussion see pp. 101–6.