Black Skin, Black Masks: Hybridity, Dialogism, Performativity offers a timely exploration of Black identity and its negotiation. The book draws on empirical work recording everyday conversations between Black women: friends, peers and family members. These conversations are discussed in the light of the work of Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Gerd Baumann, Claire Alexander and others on questions of hybridity, identity, otherness and the development of ’new ethnicities’. Tate aims to address what she sees as significant omissions in contemporary Black Cultural Studies. She argues that theorists have rarely looked at the process of identity construction in terms of lived-experience; and that they have tended to concentrate on the demise of the essential Black subject, paying little attention to gender. The book points to a continuation of a ’politics of the skin’ in Black identities. As such it argues against Bhabha's claim that essence is not central to hybrid identities. The conversations recorded in the book reveal the ways in which women negotiate the category of Blackness, in what Tate calls a 'hybridity-of- the-everyday'. The book introduces a new interpretative vocabulary to look at the ways in which hybridity is orchestrated and fashioned, showing it to be performative, dialogical and dependent on essentialism.
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Shirley Anne Tate is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies in the Sociology Department at The Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.Review:
'What is so exceptional and exciting about this book is how it brings key concepts from post-colonial theory to life by putting those concepts into dialogue with the talk of Black women. By offering such a careful and critical analysis of the hybridity of the everyday, where Blackness is a matter of talk, experience, skin and community, this book points us to the future, to how anti-racist struggle can make new spaces and worlds. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to think hard and well about the politics of race, gender and empire.' Sara Ahmed, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK 'In Black Skins, Black Masks, Shirley Tate explores the lived experience of what she calls "hybridity of the everyday". The strength of Tate's work is the meticulous analysis that connects the abstracted theory to the voices of the Black women who took part in the research. This sophisticated and innovative account of the ways in which "the essential" discourses of "race" continue to inform Black cultural politics is an important and timely addition to the scholarship on gender, "race", ethnicity and culture.' Dr Suki Ali, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
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