E. Patrick Johnsonâs new publication, Appropriating Blackness, marks a daring intervention in performance studies and African American studies. Its critical and ethical concerns will resonate for those working in numerous other ï¬elds, such as cultural anthropology; philosophy; critical ethnicity and race studies; gay, lesbian, and queer studies; pedagogy studies; and music. Johnson begins by claiming that âblacknessâ has no essence. He mines the socially constructed nature of ethnic-racial difference through performance theory to say that blackness can be said to give the appearance of a naturalized category because of the endlessly reiterated presentations qua performances of blackness in the context of everyday life. This appearance is, of course, always unstable, and this instability will, in turn, make any claims to âblack authenticityâ disputable. Johnson builds on Judith Butlerâs work on gender and performance in Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter by bringing race to bear more forcefully on theories of performativity.1 His broad deployment of the rubric of âperformanceâ to include a plethora of social, cultural, and political texts â from Barakaâs Black Nationalist poetry to gospel music to his grandmotherâs oral history â can be read as one of his projectâs boldest moves, even if at times
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies – Duke University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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