The past two decades have witnessed the emergence of a remarkable number of internationally renowned black British intellectuals, including artists, novelists, poets, journalists, and academics. This article maps the socioeconomic and political terrain from which the “black British intellectual” has emerged. I argue that from the improbable grounds of anticolonial struggle, twentieth-century migrancy, and post/colonial claims to recognition, a new subjectivity of “black Britishness” has been forged. Subsequently, this black diasporic subjectivity has produced a form of intellectual praxis that has decisively reshaped broader discussions around race and identity within the African diaspora and the very parameters of what it means to be a black intellectual. This intellectual work, I argue, is defined by its relation to a set of dispositions including a broadly post-structuralist theory of blackness, a critical engagement with Marxism and related class problematics, a reworking of liberal feminism's failure to center race within its conceptual frame, and a reading of European colonialism and its continuing effects as a central dynamic in the production of a politics of antiracist struggle and solidarity.
Ben Carrington; Improbable Grounds: The Emergence of the Black British Intellectual. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2010; 109 (2): 369–389. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-2009-039
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