The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive on 2011-04-10 02:24Z by Steven

The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (review)

Theatre Journal
Volume 63, Number 1 (March 2011)
pages 136-138
E-ISSN: 1086-332X; Print ISSN: 0192-2882

Douglas A. Jones Jr.
Stanford University

Although the election of a mixed-race president signaled to many the beginning of the end of the problem of the color line, the discourse of postraciality is “not just the effect of recent pre- and post-millennial effusions”, Tavia Nyong’o notes, but rather “it was already visible, for instance, during the antebellum struggle to abolish slavery”. In his stunning new book The Amalgamation Waltz, Nyong’o compels us to confront the problematics of this particular dialectic—namely, the nascent talk of racial transcendence alongside the entrenchment of white supremacy and racialized slavery. For Nyong’o, this struggle was/is too often waged on the back of the “hybrid child.” The Amalgamation Waltz argues against the biopolitical notion that the keys to a national transcendence of race inhere within mixed-race subjects; instead, he insists, “racial mixing and hybridity are neither problems for, nor solutions to, the long history of ‘race’ and racism, but part of its genealogy”.

The author begins with the contention that hybridity can both sustain and disrupt the pedagogy of the “national Thing,” Slavoj Žižek’s term for an indefinable essence that appears to be present throughout the nation’s way of life, but only exists as long as members of the community continue to believe in it. For Nyong’o, the American national Thing is “a powerful force shaping the nation” that “often accommodates hybridity to an official teleology that is forever reducing the many to the one”…

Read or purchase the review here.

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