“50 Years after the Civil Rights Act: Post-Black but not Post-Race”

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 
jag525@cornell.edu

Session description:
How does being 50 years removed from the Civil Rights Act affect the politics of the question, as Fred Moten asks, ‘What will blackness be?’ What does this distance from such legislation do to our interrogation of the tensions between the fluidity & freedom of blackness in this moment and the enduring conditions undermining post-racialism? Given both the Civil Right Act & the fraught relationship between law and blackness in the US, how do we think post-Black(ness, Arts)/soul? Please send 200-300 word abstract and CV to jag525@cornell.edu

Panel Abstract:
As Americans reflect on what it means to be 50 years removed from the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we find ourselves in a moment of “posts”: post-modernism, certainly, but also, as we are led by our first black President (a mixed-race African American man with a Kenyan father), post-black(ness), post-Black Arts, post-soul. What does this mean? Eddie S. Glaude notes how “we live in a different time, a moment made possible by the extraordinary efforts of past generations. But our task is different because the conditions have changed.” What are those conditions for what he calls a “post-soul politics for the twenty-first century”? And how are those conditions shaped by the Civil Rights Act and the movements that surrounded it? How does black art – a term which itself merits interrogation – position itself in the era since these movements and this landmark legislation?
Thinking about the Civil Rights Act helps us think the relationship between law and literature – a growing field of interdisciplinary inquiry – through a Black Studies perspective. Given the fraught relationship between American law and blackness – as recounted by numerous scholars including Imani Perry, Saidiya Hartman, and Jared Sexton – it is imperative to enter into discourses around these “posts” (post-blackness, Post-Black Arts, post-soul, and even post-racial) with the politics and legislation of the 1960s in mind. This panel asks, how does being 50 years removed from the Civil Rights Act affect the political dimensions of the question, as Fred Moten asks it, “What will blackness be?” “The question of who we are, now,” as Harry Elam and Douglas Jones put it. What does this historical distance from such landmark legislation do to our interrogation of the tensions between the fluidity and freedom of blackness in this moment and the enduring conditions which undermine notions of post-racialism?

Deadline: September 30, 2013

cfp categories: 
african-american