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.
Baldwin, Racial Melancholy, and the Black Middle Ground
This article uses Baldwin’s 1949 essay “Everybody’s Protest Novel” to consider that literary mode’s corollary in the 1990s New Black Cinema. It argues that recent African American movies posit an alternative to the politics and aesthetics of films by a director such as Spike Lee, one that evinces a set of qualities Baldwin calls for in his essay about Black literature. Among these are what recent scholars such as Ann Anlin Cheng have called racial melancholy or what Kevin Quashie describes as Black “quiet,” as well as variations on Yogita Goyal’s diaspora romance. Films such as Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) and Joe Talbot and Jimmy Fails’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) offer a cinematic version of racial narrative at odds with the protest tradition I associate with earlier Black directors, a newly resonant cinema that we might see as both a direct and an indirect legacy of Baldwin’s views on African American culture and politics.
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
The Visual Politics and Narratives of Red Cross Museums in Europe and the
United States, 1920s to 2010s
( 1927 ), ‘ Through a
Looking-Glass ’, The World’s Health:
Monthly Review of the League of Red Cross Societies ,
January , 82 – 5 .
( 1995 ), ‘ Humanitarianism
and the Pornography of Pain in Anglo-AmericanCulture
Visual Advocacy in the Early Decades of Humanitarian Cinema
Economy of Famine Relief ( Cambridge :
Cambridge University Press ).
( 1995 ), ‘
Humanitarianism and the Pornography of Pain in Anglo-AmericanCulture ’,
The American Historical Review ,
303 – 34 .
( 1920 ), ‘
Croix-Rouge et “Publicity” ’,
International Review of the Red Cross ,
137 – 48 .
( 2012 ), ‘ “Neutrality-Humanity”: The Humanitarian Mission and the Films of the American Red Cross ’, in
Beyond the Screen ( Bloomington
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.
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
By expanding the geographical scope of the history of violence and war, this
volume challenges both Western and state-centric narratives of the decline of
violence and its relationship to modernity. It highlights instead similarities
across early modernity in terms of representations, legitimations, applications
of, and motivations for violence. It seeks to integrate methodologies of the
study of violence into the history of war, thereby extending the historical
significance of both fields of research. Thirteen case studies outline the
myriad ways in which large-scale violence was understood and used by states and
non-state actors throughout the early modern period across Africa, Asia, the
Americas, the Atlantic, and Europe, demonstrating that it was far more complex
than would be suggested by simple narratives of conquest and resistance.
Moreover, key features of imperial violence apply equally to large-scale
violence within societies. As the authors argue, violence was a continuum,
ranging from small-scale, local actions to full-blown war. The latter was
privileged legally and increasingly associated with states during early
modernity, but its legitimacy was frequently contested and many of its violent
forms, such as raiding and destruction of buildings and crops, could be found in
activities not officially classed as war.
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.