Open Access (free)
Self-examining White Privilege and the Myth of America
Keely Shinners

James Baldwin, in his landmark essay “My Dungeon Shook,” says that white Americans are “still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.” This open letter explores this history on a personal level. Taking notes from Baldwin’s indictments of whiteness in Another Country and The Fire Next Time, this essay explores how white people, despite claims of deniability, become culpable, complicit, and ensnared in their racial privilege. By reading Baldwin’s work through a personal lens, it implores fellow white readers and scholars of Baldwin to begin examining the myths of America by first examining themselves.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Aesthetics
Rohan Ghatage

This essay establishes a philosophical connection between James Baldwin and the philosopher William James by investigating how the pragmatist protocol against “vicious intellectualism” offers Baldwin a key resource for thinking through how anti-black racism might be dismantled. While Richard Wright had earlier denounced pragmatism for privileging experience over knowledge, and thereby offering the black subject no means for redressing America’s constitutive hierarchies, uncovering the current of Jamesian thought that runs through Baldwin’s essays brings into view his attempt to move beyond epistemology as the primary framework for inaugurating a future unburdened by the problem of the color line. Although Baldwin indicts contemporaneous arrangements of knowledge for producing the most dehumanizing forms of racism, he does not simply attempt to rewrite the enervating meanings to which black subjects are given. Articulating a pragmatist sensibility at various stages of his career, Baldwin repeatedly suggests that the imagining and creation of a better world is predicated upon rethinking the normative value accorded to knowledge in the practice of politics. The provocative challenge that Baldwin issues for his reader is to cease the well-established privileging of knowledge, and to instead stage the struggle for freedom within an aesthetic, rather than epistemological, paradigm.

James Baldwin Review
Between “Stranger in the Village” and I Am Not Your Negro
Jovita dos Santos Pinto, Noémi Michel, Patricia Purtschert, Paola Bacchetta, and Vanessa Naef

James Baldwin’s writing, his persona, as well as his public speeches, interviews, and discussions are undergoing a renewed reception in the arts, in queer and critical race studies, and in queer of color movements. Directed by Raoul Peck, the film I Am Not Your Negro decisively contributed to the rekindled circulation of Baldwin across the Atlantic. Since 2017, screenings and commentaries on the highly acclaimed film have prompted discussions about the persistent yet variously racialized temporospatial formations of Europe and the U.S. Stemming from a roundtable that followed a screening in Zurich in February 2018, this collective essay wanders between the audio-visual and textual matter of the film and Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village,” which was also adapted into a film-essay directed by Pierre Koralnik, staging Baldwin in the Swiss village of Leukerbad. Privileging Black feminist, postcolonial, and queer of color perspectives, we identify three sites of Baldwin’s transatlantic reverberations: situated knowledge, controlling images, and everyday sexual racism. In conclusion, we reflect on the implications of racialized, sexualized politics for today’s Black feminist, queer, and trans of color movements located in continental Europe—especially in Switzerland and France.

James Baldwin Review
Robert J. Corber

The author reviews Raoul Peck’s 2016 film, I Am Not Your Negro, finding it a remarkable achievement as a documentary that breaks with cinematic conventions and emphasizes the importance of listening as much as looking. The director has singled out Baldwin as the writer whose work spoke most directly to his own identity and experience during his peripatetic childhood in Haiti and Africa, and in I Am Not Your Negro, Peck aims to ensure that Baldwin’s words will have a similar effect on audiences. However, even as it succeeds in reanimating Baldwin’s voice for a new political era, I Am Not Your Negro inadvertently exposes the difficulty of fully capturing or honoring the writer’s complex legacy. As scholars have long noted, interest in Baldwin’s life and work tends to divide along racial and sexual lines, and Peck’s documentary is no exception. The filmmaker privileges Baldwin’s blackness over his queerness by overlooking the parts of The Devil Finds Work and No Name in the Street in which the writer’s queerness figures prominently.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Governing Precarity through Adaptive Design
Mark Duffield

. Important here is its privileging of the design principle over the need for, or even the possibility of, political change. Design Not Politics The computational turn and societal dependence on digital technologies has changed the way the world is understood and the status of humans within it ( Chandler, 2018 ). The privileging of the design principle is central to this change. Besides the spatial shift from circulation to connectivity, an ontological, epistemological and methodological translation has also taken place ( Duffield, 2018

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Fernando Espada

towards migrants. In ‘Myths of Violence’, Brad Evans offers a possible explanation of what motivates solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers in Europe. For Evans, instead of the privilege of absolute power, violence is the outcome of asymmetric freedom, ‘the freedom to punish and destroy … over the freedom to resist or … to flee’. With reference to Gilles Deleuze, he argues that oppression not only denies the rights of the oppressed but restricts their movement. He challenges a conception of ‘the political’ that he feels legitimises the continuation of violence in

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editors’ Introduction
Tanja R. Müller and Gemma Sou

’ ethical commitments. Drawing on contemporary crisis translation practices and products, they maintain that linguistic exchange should be conceptualised, not merely as transactional, but through an ethic of exchange that is equipped to acknowledge the inherent asymmetry between those who require and those who provide assistance during a crisis. Relatedly, they argue that language and barriers to understanding can reproduce the epistemic privileges inherent to humanitarian aid, and so they call for translation

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Brad Evans

that freedom entails. But let’s not forget that what is resistive can also become violent in response. This in turn creates a brutal dialectic, which appearing as war by everyday means, creates a unifying reciprocity where both parties end up fighting over the same object of desire – a violence based on similitude not differentiation. Hence, in revolution, everything changes so that everything remains the same. Rather than seeing violence as the privilege of absolute power, it is better to see it as the outcome of asymmetric freedom. The freedom to punish or

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Corporations, Celebrities and the Construction of the Entrepreneurial Refugee Woman
Annika Bergman Rosamond and Catia Gregoratti

beyond borders. Yet, UNHCR-endorsed corporate and celebrity humanitarians are located within immense privilege and power, as well as being immersed in the colonial, gendered and capitalist logics of humanitarianism, rather than being wedded to the transformation of the global order and decoloniality ( Bergman Rosamond, 2015 , 2016 ). Directly relevant is also the contention that humanitarian actors, many of whom are located within a neoliberal feminist logic

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Matthew Hunt, Sharon O’Brien, Patrick Cadwell, and Dónal P. O’Mathúna

. Less attention has been given to epistemic justice and power asymmetries in the ‘credibility economy’ ( Fricker, 2007 ) that exists in a humanitarian crisis. In humanitarian aid, an epistemic privilege is associated with the principal language(s) in which aid is coordinated and administered. In practice, this is often English but might be other languages in other contexts. Language barriers within the humanitarian response, especially where

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs