Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of Progress (Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People)

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9780822361732: Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy, and the Agony of Progress (Religious Cultures of African and African Diaspora People)

"Joseph R. Winters argues that the tragicomic dimension of African American life manifests as a kind of 'melancholic hope.' He traces this uncanny desire to hear the anguished cries of the ancestors, to revisit the site of historical trauma, across multiple domains: from the foundational scholarship of DuBois to politics in the age of Obama. Drawing on the spiritual/blues/jazz impulse in black culture and Walter Benjamin, Winters reveals the capaciousness and paradoxical productivity of hope draped in melancholy."--William David Hart, author of "Afro-Eccentricity: Beyond the Standard Narrative of Black Religion"

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In"Hope Draped in Black"Joseph R. Winters responds to the enduring belief that America follows a constant trajectory of racial progress. Such notions like those that suggested the passage into a post-racial era following Barack Obama's election gloss over the history of racial violence and oppression to create an imaginary and self-congratulatory world where painful memories are conveniently forgotten. In place of these narratives, Winters advocates for an idea of hope that is predicated on a continuous engagement with loss and melancholy. Signaling a heightened sensitivity to the suffering of others, melancholy disconcerts us and allows us to cut against dominant narratives and identities. Winters identifies a black literary and aesthetic tradition in the work of intellectuals, writers, and artists such as W. E. B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Charles Burnett that often underscores melancholy, remembrance, loss, and tragedy in ways that gesture toward such a conception of hope. Winters also draws on Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno to highlight how remembering and mourning the uncomfortable dimensions of American social life can provide alternate sources for hope and imagination that might lead to building a better world."

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