Strange Fruit of the Black Pacific: Imperialism's Racial Justice and Its Fugitives

Strange Fruit of the Black Pacific: Imperialism's Racial Justice and Its Fugitives Vince Schleitwiler's bold, revisionary study initiates readers into recognizable but uncharted transpacific terrain in African American and Asian American literatures. Schleitwiler's “transpacific” does not allude to an oceanic space or time frame, but rather to an “orientation”—“a kind of tilting of space and time” (p. 3). Sometimes, this spreads out from Georgia to Luzon via Hong Kong, and at other times, it is compressed between two towns in the Mississippi Delta. The “black Pacific” moniker is reserved for “a specific lure” within the terrain that gravitates toward seemingly incompatible forces represented by two black icons from the Asia-Pacific region, Barack Obama and King Kong; one represents hope for racial justice and multiculturalism, while the other represents sexualized violence and lynching, which appear as the antithesis of racial justice. Schleitwiler's main aim is to illuminate what he calls “imperialism's racial justice” and to argue that this “justice” “could be sustained only through an ongoing training of perception in an aesthetics of racial terror” (pp. 3, 4, emphasis in original). Organized into three parts and five chapters, the book offers nuanced readings of “the literatures that take form and flight within the fissures of imperialism's racial justice” to study race across U.S. transpacific domains (p. 4). Less interested in geographically fixed units with distinct borders than in migrations, Schleitwiler ingeniously traces and teases out multiple circuits of movements of ideologies and labor that at once crisscross U.S. imperialism and its shadows and cut across and along what W. E. B. Du Bois termed “the color line.” Chapter 1 provides a theoretical framework by elaborating on Du Bois's color line (from which Schleitwiler draws inspiration and methodology) as “a traveling analytical concept for examining how race is made and remade, in uneven and unpredictable ways, across a global field of imperial competition” (p. 41, emphasis in original). Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the “training” of racialized sexuality into normative gendering through which African Americans and Filipinos emerge as modern, mobile (or diasporic) subjects and its breakdown and “failure” (p. 122). Chapters 4 and 5 center on parallel readings of Nella Larsen's Passing (1929) and Toshio Mori's The Brothers Murata (completed in 1944, but unpublished until 2000) and of the New Negro and the Nisei, as well as intersectional readings of black and Japanese American migrations and “their uneasy convergence in Los Angeles after the war” (p. 223). Written in an enticing, cryptic style, Schleitwiler's study is not necessarily a reader-friendly guide to the terrain that it asks readers to enter; this is perhaps precisely because it “takes up the task of … learning how to read” (p. 4). Readers are urged to learn to read—not only the unmapped terrain in African American and Asian American literatures but also Schleitwiler's book on it. Scholars need to wrestle with this exceptionally challenging work to shape future work in the field. © The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of American History Oxford University Press

Strange Fruit of the Black Pacific: Imperialism's Racial Justice and Its Fugitives

Loading next page...
 
/lp/ou_press/strange-fruit-of-the-black-pacific-imperialism-s-racial-justice-and-Fo4Sejsh3C
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
ISSN
0021-8723
eISSN
1945-2314
D.O.I.
10.1093/jahist/jax496
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Vince Schleitwiler's bold, revisionary study initiates readers into recognizable but uncharted transpacific terrain in African American and Asian American literatures. Schleitwiler's “transpacific” does not allude to an oceanic space or time frame, but rather to an “orientation”—“a kind of tilting of space and time” (p. 3). Sometimes, this spreads out from Georgia to Luzon via Hong Kong, and at other times, it is compressed between two towns in the Mississippi Delta. The “black Pacific” moniker is reserved for “a specific lure” within the terrain that gravitates toward seemingly incompatible forces represented by two black icons from the Asia-Pacific region, Barack Obama and King Kong; one represents hope for racial justice and multiculturalism, while the other represents sexualized violence and lynching, which appear as the antithesis of racial justice. Schleitwiler's main aim is to illuminate what he calls “imperialism's racial justice” and to argue that this “justice” “could be sustained only through an ongoing training of perception in an aesthetics of racial terror” (pp. 3, 4, emphasis in original). Organized into three parts and five chapters, the book offers nuanced readings of “the literatures that take form and flight within the fissures of imperialism's racial justice” to study race across U.S. transpacific domains (p. 4). Less interested in geographically fixed units with distinct borders than in migrations, Schleitwiler ingeniously traces and teases out multiple circuits of movements of ideologies and labor that at once crisscross U.S. imperialism and its shadows and cut across and along what W. E. B. Du Bois termed “the color line.” Chapter 1 provides a theoretical framework by elaborating on Du Bois's color line (from which Schleitwiler draws inspiration and methodology) as “a traveling analytical concept for examining how race is made and remade, in uneven and unpredictable ways, across a global field of imperial competition” (p. 41, emphasis in original). Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the “training” of racialized sexuality into normative gendering through which African Americans and Filipinos emerge as modern, mobile (or diasporic) subjects and its breakdown and “failure” (p. 122). Chapters 4 and 5 center on parallel readings of Nella Larsen's Passing (1929) and Toshio Mori's The Brothers Murata (completed in 1944, but unpublished until 2000) and of the New Negro and the Nisei, as well as intersectional readings of black and Japanese American migrations and “their uneasy convergence in Los Angeles after the war” (p. 223). Written in an enticing, cryptic style, Schleitwiler's study is not necessarily a reader-friendly guide to the terrain that it asks readers to enter; this is perhaps precisely because it “takes up the task of … learning how to read” (p. 4). Readers are urged to learn to read—not only the unmapped terrain in African American and Asian American literatures but also Schleitwiler's book on it. Scholars need to wrestle with this exceptionally challenging work to shape future work in the field. © The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Journal

The Journal of American HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off