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Michele Elam’s *The Souls of Mixed Folk*

June 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I have recently discovered a book which I would like to recommend: Michele Elam’s The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millenium (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Through her insightful interpretations of many different artistic, literary, and pop-cultural representations and performances of black-white mixture, Elam seeks a middle way between, on the one hand, the insufficiently critical anticipation of a thoroughly hybrid and post-racial American culture (an increasingly popular attitude which is easily co-opted by those who no longer want to see racism as a problem) and, on the other hand, the insufficiently complex traditional rhetoric of blackness and black emancipation (which, though it has been productively destabilized by new patterns of cultural and biological miscegenation, nevertheless remains necessary in the fight against racism).  In other words, Elam takes on the contemporary aporia of race with impressive nuance and subtlety.

Whether you work directly in this area or not, my advice would be to read this book, and soon.

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