Huey Copeland's Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America can be categorized as the most recent in a long line of scholarly investigations into what has come to be called “the afterlife of slavery”—the general preoccupation with establishing the authority of the slave past in contemporary black life—and the first to explore that subject in the field of contemporary art. Best notes that when we reverse the thesis of slavery's afterlife and reconceptualize it as the basis for a historiography of slavery, we can tend also to hypostatize aspects of the slave past as missing from the visual field and in need of recovery—as, in one way of phrasing it, bound to appear. Best contends that this last entailment is not always tenable or justified by the historical record, and he invites us to consider other ways of predicating of loss.

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