The Predicament of Blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the Politics of Race

Paperback | November 27, 2012

byJemima Pierre

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What is the meaning of blackness in Africa? While much has been written on Africa’s complex ethnic and tribal relationships, Jemima Pierre’s groundbreaking The Predicament of Blackness is the first book to tackle the question of race in West Africa through its postcolonial manifestations. Challenging the view of the African continent as a nonracialized space—as a fixed historic source for the African diaspora—she envisions Africa, and in particular the nation of Ghana, as a place whose local relationships are deeply informed by global structures of race, economics, and politics.
 
Against the backdrop of Ghana’s history as a major port in the transatlantic slave trade and the subsequent and disruptive forces of colonialism and postcolonialism, Pierre examines key facets of contemporary Ghanaian society, from the pervasive significance of “whiteness” to the practice of chemical skin-bleaching to the government’s active promotion of Pan-African “heritage tourism.” Drawing these and other examples together, she shows that race and racism have not only persisted in Ghana after colonialism, but also that the beliefs and practices of this modern society all occur within a global racial hierarchy. In doing so, she provides a powerful articulation of race on the continent and a new way of understanding contemporary Africa—and the modern African diaspora.

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What is the meaning of blackness in Africa? While much has been written on Africa’s complex ethnic and tribal relationships, Jemima Pierre’s groundbreaking The Predicament of Blackness is the first book to tackle the question of race in West Africa through its postcolonial manifestations. Challenging the view of the African continent a...

Jemima Pierre teaches in the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. 
Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:November 27, 2012Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226923037

ISBN - 13:9780226923031

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction

ONE / Of Natives and Europeans: Colonialism and the Ethnicization of Racial Dominance

TWO / “Seek Ye First the Political Kingdom”: The Postcolony and Racial Formation

THREE / “You Are Rich Because You Are White”: Marking Race and Signifying Whiteness

FOUR / The Fact of Lightness: Skin Bleaching and the Colored Codes of Racial Aesthetics

FIVE / Slavery and Pan-Africanist Triumph: Heritage Tourism and State Racecraft

SIX / “Are You a Black American?”: Race and the Politics of African-Diasporic Interactions

SEVEN / Race across the Atlantic . . . and Back: Theorizing Africa and/in the Diaspora

EPILOGUE / Writing Ghana, Imagining Africa, Interrogating Diaspora

Notes
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Pierre’s excellent book argues that race impacts just as importantly on culture, politics and lived experience elsewhere in Africa as it does in the South. The Predicament of Blackness is motivated by the urge to highlight the critical failure of thinking that race does not really matter in a context with a majority black population. . . . The Predicament of Blackness is a bold and insightful book and, particularly in its thick descriptions of Accra and other Ghanaian spaces, it offers a valuable and convincing description of how Ghana—and consequently larger senses of Africa—fits within the global politics of racialization and white privilege.”