"The Ineffaceable Curse of Cain": Racial Marking and Embodiment in Pinky

"The Ineffaceable Curse of Cain": Racial Marking and Embodiment in Pinky Copyright © 2000 by Camera Obscura Camera Obscura 43, Volume 15, Number 1 Published by Duke University Press 95 • Camera Obscura almost-white main character to racially motivated degradations.4 Significantly, the film embodies the mulatto through a white actress, producing an ambiguous interplay of audience identifications. The film engages multiple deployments of the mulatto character: Through the actress, through the social context of the Hays Code, through the visual conventions it deploys, and through its narrative, which draws on the historical and rhetorical development of the mulatto character. These multiple and often contradictory impulses provide the film with a complex and conflicted understanding of race. Some moments in the film seem to point to race as a cultural and social construction, whereas at other moments the absolute primacy of race as a social category is reaffirmed and consolidated. These conflicts are most significantly embodied by the main character, Pinky, since her narrative role as the mulatto, trapped between black and white, interacts with her visual portrayal as a character neither black nor white, embodied by a white actress. These ambiguities are also played out in the film’s narrative articulation of the politics of family and inheritance. The history http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Camera Obscura Duke University Press

"The Ineffaceable Curse of Cain": Racial Marking and Embodiment in Pinky

Camera Obscura, Volume 15 (1 43) – Jan 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Camera Obscura
ISSN
1529-1510
eISSN
1529-1510
DOI
10.1215/02705346-15-1_43-95
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Copyright © 2000 by Camera Obscura Camera Obscura 43, Volume 15, Number 1 Published by Duke University Press 95 • Camera Obscura almost-white main character to racially motivated degradations.4 Significantly, the film embodies the mulatto through a white actress, producing an ambiguous interplay of audience identifications. The film engages multiple deployments of the mulatto character: Through the actress, through the social context of the Hays Code, through the visual conventions it deploys, and through its narrative, which draws on the historical and rhetorical development of the mulatto character. These multiple and often contradictory impulses provide the film with a complex and conflicted understanding of race. Some moments in the film seem to point to race as a cultural and social construction, whereas at other moments the absolute primacy of race as a social category is reaffirmed and consolidated. These conflicts are most significantly embodied by the main character, Pinky, since her narrative role as the mulatto, trapped between black and white, interacts with her visual portrayal as a character neither black nor white, embodied by a white actress. These ambiguities are also played out in the film’s narrative articulation of the politics of family and inheritance. The history

Journal

Camera ObscuraDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2000

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