Troubled crossings. Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic twenty years later

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Abstract / Description of output

In this paper I propose to re-examine the concept of the Black Atlantic as constitutive of a counterculture of modernity both in the light of Gilroy’s more recent work and in relation to the contemporary politico-cultural conjuncture. If his book was a powerful and effective contribution to the theoretical debates of the early 1990s, what is its intrinsic value and relevance to the debates of today? What are we to make of Gilroy’s apparent jettisoning of the idea of race in the name of a ‘planetary humanism’ in more recent publications (see Against Race (2001) and Between Camps (2001))? Does such a move inevitably mean diluting the demands of progressive and contestatory politics whilst throwing out the bogeyman of essentialist race-based discourse? What are the implications of such a ‘planetary humanism’ for those communities, both living within and outside of Western nations, for whom the legacy of colonialism, and indeed vestiges of racist attitudes, remain real and unavoidable even today? And finally, to what extent can the developments in Gilroy’s thinking be said to reflect broader changes in contemporary thinking about race, culture and politics over the course of the last ten to twenty years? Whilst seeking to reaffirm the value of Gilroy’s contribution, both past and present, to contemporary theory, be it cultural, sociological or political, in this paper I shall conduct a critical reassessment of his oeuvre since and in the light of The Black Atlantic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 May 2014
Event54th Congres Societe de Anglicistes de l'enseignament superieur - Universite Caen Normandie, Caen, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 May 201418 May 2014


Conference54th Congres Societe de Anglicistes de l'enseignament superieur
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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