Looking back at the dialogue between Black British Cultural Studies and African American Studies that occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, when Stuart Hall first asked the question, “What is this black in black popular culture?” this article explores how that conversation has evolved in the context of current discussions of black cross-culturality and diaspora. New concerns have emerged about the relevance of US notions of race and blackness for describing the cultures, experiences, and identities of members of other diasporic populations. Also, gender and sexuality still function as theoretical categories of lesser priority in the discussion of a racial diaspora imaginary, despite the hypervisibility of certain notions of black masculinity and femininity in popular cultural forms that travel between home and abroad. With readings of one canonical diaspora text, Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks, the article teases out what is at stake in making US based comparisons when discussing racial dynamics in the colonial world. This article ultimately argues that only a broad and complex understanding of modernity's racial unconscious can address both the hypervisibility of the US and the undefined role of gender and sexuality in contemporary conceptions of race and black culture.
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Michelle Stephens; What Is This Black in Black Diaspora?. Small Axe 1 July 2009; 13 (2): 26–38. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-3697238
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