Between “Stranger in the Village” and I Am Not Your
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.
International Development Studies ’,
in de Jong ,
S. , Icaza ,
R. and Rutazibwa ,
O. U. (eds), Decolonization and
Feminisms in Global Teaching and Learning ( London :
Routledge ), pp.
192 – 214 .
M. ( 2017 ),
Decolonising Intervention: International Statebuilding in Mozambique
( London : Rowman & Littlefield
G. ( 2016 ), WhiteInnocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race ( Durham,
NC : Duke University Press ).
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.
grooming available through
Amazon.co.uk, all are covered with an image of a young white woman
or girl. The bodied placement of the cover image is important: some
are of very young girls who would be socially known as ‘children’, others
rely on more heavily sexualised images of young women, often with
skin exposed, wearing full make up, staring into the camera, often with
doe-like blue eyes. Not a single cover references a woman of colour
(we should remember that some things are not feelable in the same
way; some things do not stick). This vision of whiteinnocence is
virtue, peacefulness, and innocence. In her book WhiteInnocence (2016: 18),
Gloria Wekker argues that Dutch cultural and political discourse on white
non-racialised innocence is exceedingly strong. Exemplifying the aggressive
‘ignorance’ with which innocence is defended, she writes: ‘The behaviour
and the speech acts of his [Zwarte Piet’s] defenders do not speak of innocence but rather of “an ignorance, militant, aggressive –not … confined to
the illiterate and uneducated but propagated at the highest levels of the land
… presenting itself unblushingly as knowledge
(neo)colonialism and the questions of what continues to move
people are completely erased.
What I argue is manifest in the imagining of the ‘good’ migrant is
in fact a re-scripting of colonial whiteness (also see Danewid 2017 for
a comparative argument). It is the outward rejection of a xenophobicracist nationalism and the reformulation of a supposedly compassionate
and humanitarian nationalism. But what haunts both accounts are
appeals to whiteinnocence (Wekker 2016). Compassionate nationalist
accounts have particular traction on the liberal left in the UK – where
WhiteInnocence , which builds on Said's reference to imperial fiction and poetry as a cultural archive via Ann Stoler's sense of the archive as a ‘repository of memory’ (Stoler 2009 : 49 in Wekker 2016 : 19) for everyday legacies of imperial rule in postcolonial metropoles. It is
located in many things, in the way we think, do things, and look at the world, in what we find (sexually) attractive, in how our affective and rational economies are organized and intertwined. Most important, it is
vocabulary of critical race scholars already exposing race in other parts of Europe outside the largest ex-metropoles – ‘whiteinnocence’ (Wekker 2016 ); a mode of analogy, likening the marginalisation of part or all of the region through spatialised ‘Europe’–‘Balkan’ hierarchies to racialised marginalisations elsewhere; and a mode of connection, seeing identity-making projects within and projected on to the region as embedded within, not just parallel to, the global circulation and translation of ‘race’.
To illustrate these modes, consider how each
What does race have to do with the Yugoslav region?
expressions of ‘whiteinnocence’ (Ross 1990 ) against which Wekker and Imre both write suggest that, in racial exceptionalism and attachment to whiteness, the two regions are not so far apart. They share, at least, a European family resemblance transcending the west/east divisions constructed before and during the Cold War; recognising race as a systemically
global structure (Mills 2015 ) makes them not just in parallel but connected.
Scholars of other eastern European countries and the USSR, not just the Yugoslav region, face