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James Baldwin and Melanie Klein in the Context of Black Lives Matter

Recent killings of unarmed black citizens are a fresh reminder of the troubled state of racial integration in the United States. At the same time, the unfolding Black Lives Matter protest movements and the responses by federal agencies each testify to a not insignificant capacity for addressing social pathologies surrounding the color line. In order to respond to this ambivalent situation, this article suggests a pairing between the work of James Baldwin and that of the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. I will argue that we cannot fully appreciate the depths of what Baldwin called the “savage paradox” of race without the insights provided by Klein and object relations psychoanalysis. Conversely, Baldwin helps us to sound out the political significance of object relations approaches, including the work of Klein and those influenced by her such as Hanna Segal and Wilfred Bion. In conversation with the work of Baldwin, object relations theory can help to identify particular social settings and institutions that might allow concrete efforts toward racial justice to take root.

James Baldwin Review

James Baldwin might be imagined as reaching his greatest level of popularity within this current decade. With the growth of social media activist movements like Black Lives Matter, which captures and catalyzes off a Baldwinian rage, and the publishing of works directly evoking Baldwin, his voice appears more pronounced between the years of 2013 and 2015. Scholars in Baldwin studies, along with strangers who were turned into witnesses of his literary oeuvre, have contributed to this renewed interest in Baldwin, or at least have been able to sharpen the significance of the phenomenon. Publications and performances highlight Baldwin’s work and how it prefigured developments in critical race and queer theories, while also demonstrating Baldwin’s critique as both prophetic and “disturbingly” contemporary. Emerging largely from Baldwin’s timelessness in social and political discourse, and from the need to conjure a figure to demystify the absurd American landscape, these interventions in Baldwin studies follow distinct trends. This essay examines the 2013–15 trends from four vantages: an examination of a return, with revision, to popular work by Baldwin; identifying Baldwin’s work as a contributor to theoretical and critical methodology; Baldwin and intertextuality or intervocality; and a new frontier in Baldwin studies.

James Baldwin Review
The Rising Relevance of James Baldwin
James Baldwin Review

The acceleration of interest in Baldwin’s work and impact since 2010 shows no signs of diminishing. This resurgence has much to do with Baldwin—the richness and passionate intensity of his vision—and also something to do with the dedicated scholars who have pursued a variety of publication platforms to generate further interest in his work. The reach of Baldwin studies has grown outside the academy as well: Black Lives Matter demonstrations routinely feature quotations from Baldwin; Twitter includes a “Son of Baldwin” site; and Raoul Peck’s 2016 documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, has received considerable critical and popular interest. The years 2010–13 were a key period in moving past the tired old formula—that praised his early career and denigrated the works he wrote after 1963—into the new formula—positing Baldwin as a misunderstood visionary, a wide-reaching artist, and a social critic whose value we are only now beginning to appreciate. I would highlight four additional prominent trends that emerged between 2010 and 2013: a consideration of Baldwin in the contexts of film, drama, and music; understandings of Baldwin globally; Baldwin’s criticism of American institutions; and analyses of Baldwin’s work in conversation with other authors.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Humanitarianism in a Post-Liberal World Order

examples). It is not humanitarians who created this ‘neutral’ space but liberal-capitalist states. And the scale of private and state violence in our world shows us that it is far from a universally held view that all lives have equal worth (think of the Black Lives Matter campaign, for example, to tackle the widespread killing of African-Americans by the US police). But without this principle, humanitarianism ceases to be a demand for rights, justice and the observance of the law, and becomes an appeal to pity, charity, mercy and sentiment. We

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic

: Journal for Black and Third World Liberation. Different accounts of contemporary black British diasporic politics and culture can be found in Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe, The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain (London: Virago, 1985); Kobena Mercer, Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 1994) pp. 259–85. For historical anthologies of black British writing see Paul Edwards and David Dabydeen (eds.), Black Writers in Britain 1760–1890 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993); Caryl

in Postcolonial contraventions
How African-Americans shape their collective identity through consumption

horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and most important lovelessness’.8 Herein lie the alienating effects of consumption. Along similar lines, Carl Husmoller Nightingale offers a dreary account of how inner-city black children define social integration by inclusion in ‘mainstream America’s mass market and hence compensate for the economic and racial exclusion they face in other parts of their lives’.9 Like George Lipsitz, he understands commodity purchases as ‘symbolic answers to real problems’ (Lipsitz, 1990, p. 9, our emphasis). Marketing specialists devise

in Innovation by demand
Open Access (free)
White fragility and black social death

-​ long memory, but because black lives are still imperilled and devalued by a racial calculus and a political arithmetic that were entrenched centuries ago. This is the afterlife of slavery –​skewed life chances, limited access to health and education, premature death, incarceration, and impoverishment. I, too, am the afterlife of slavery. (Hartman, 2008: 6, italics mine; see also Kilomba, 2010) Anti-​black racism, understood as an economic endeavour and not as a moral failing (Ferreira da Silva, 2015) also has global signification, even if exceptionalist discourses

in The power of vulnerability
Open Access (free)

, but other than dat, it was basically like walking onto e fiel’ at home. There was women selling all sweet bread, and fish cakes, and black pudding, and what you call souse. And de people dem sell beer, and pop, and stuff from their cars. But Trevor tell me not to drink beer straight from de bottle in case de cops come

in Sport in the Black Atlantic
Harold Moody and the League of Coloured Peoples

In this chapter I will examine two matters: first, the influences that shaped Harold Moody’s thinking and behaviour; and second, how those beliefs were applied throughout his active life in countering racial prejudice and promoting the interests of black peoples. Moody’s formative years and early education in late nineteenth-century colonial Jamaica exposed him to the pernicious

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain