Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Cultures

Overview

Small Acts charts the emergence of a distinctive cultural sensibility that accomplishes the difficult task of being simultaneously both black and English. Straddling the field of popular cultural forms, Paul Gilroy shows how the African diaspora born from slavery has given rise to a web of intimate social relationships in which African-American, Caribbean and now black English elements combine. Discussions of Spike Lee and Frank Bruno, record sleeves, photographs, film and literature from Beloved to Yardie are ...
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Overview

Small Acts charts the emergence of a distinctive cultural sensibility that accomplishes the difficult task of being simultaneously both black and English. Straddling the field of popular cultural forms, Paul Gilroy shows how the African diaspora born from slavery has given rise to a web of intimate social relationships in which African-American, Caribbean and now black English elements combine. Discussions of Spike Lee and Frank Bruno, record sleeves, photographs, film and literature from Beloved to Yardie are used to show how new and exciting possibilities have arisen from the transnational flows that create cultural links between the global African diaspora. Small Acts is a seminal work by an important young critic that changes the terms on which black culture will be understood and argued about.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Critics of multiculturalism and of calls for ``diversity'' often cite absolutist and exclusionary trends within the movement as evidence that its adherents are taking destructive aim at the liberal ideal of pluralist democracy. But ``multiculturalism'' is more complex than that and the questions raised by diversity's champions about democracy, national identity and our increasingly multinational culture are increasingly inescapable ones. Gilroy ( Ain't No Black in the Union Jack ), a British cultural critic who is also black, transcends the common multiculturalist concept of ideal, essential racial cultures. He also aims trenchant criticism at the movement's more narrow-minded adherents. For him, black culture is itself becoming increasingly international. Pointing to rap music's hybridization of inner-city and Jamaican culture, he asks, ``Why is rap discussed as if it sprang intact from the entrails of the blues? What is it about Afro-America's writing elite which means that they need to claim this diasporic cultural form in such an assertively nationalist way?'' Though the prose is sometimes stiff, unnecessarily obscure and academic, and the book's photos add little, the essays, which include art reviews, speeches and interviews with bell hooks, Toni Morrison and black British filmmaker Isaac Julien, successfully broaden the scope of multiculturalist cultural criticism. Photos. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781852422981
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail Publishing Ltd
  • Publication date: 5/28/1994
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Black and English: a lived contradiction 17
1 One nation under a groove 19
2 The peculiarities of the black English 49
3 Nationalism, history and ethnic absolutism 63
4 Art of darkness: black art and the problem of belonging to England 74
5 Frank Bruno or Salman Rushdie? 86
Pt. 2 Diaspora identities, diaspora aesthetics 95
6 Cruciality and the frog's perspective: an agenda of difficulties for the black arts movement in Britain 97
7 D-Max 115
8 It ain't where you're from, it's where you're at: the dialectics of diaspora identification 120
9 On the beach: David A. Bailey 146
10 Whose millennium is this? Blackness: pre-modern, post-modern, anti-modern 153
11 Climbing the racial mountain: a conversation with Isaac Julien 166
Pt. 3 Black Atlantic exchanges 173
12 Living memory: a meeting with Toni Morrison 175
13 Spiking the argument: Spike Lee and the limits of racial community 183
14 It's a family affair: black culture and the trope of kinship 192
15 A dialogue with bell hooks 208
16 Wearing your art on your sleeve: notes towards a diaspora history of black ephemera 237
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