An Intimate History of the British Empire

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-10-11 01:56Z by Steven

An Intimate History of the British Empire

The New Yorker

Maya Binyam

Hazel Carby as a child. Photograph Courtesy Hazel Carby

In “Imperial Intimacies,” Hazel Carby weaves together the story of colonialism and the story of her family.

After Carl Carby arrived in England from Jamaica, in 1943, he wore starched shirts, polished dress shoes, and neatly knotted ties. He was from the colonies, but his mannerisms evinced a restrained, British sensibility. Like most early immigrants from the Caribbean, he was expected to provide a service: his entrance to England was predicated on his employment as a bomber pilot in the Royal Air Force, which recruited around six thousand people from England’s “black colonies” to fight in the Second World War. At a dance in Worcester, he met Iris Leaworthy, a young, white Welsh woman who worked as a civil servant in the Air Ministry, and the two bonded over the surprising similarities of their upbringings. Both had grown up in poverty. As schoolchildren, each donned a starched uniform and, on Empire Day, a holiday designed to instill in children a feeling of belonging to a great nation, waved the Union Jack. When England went to war, both of them enthusiastically offered their service. The pair soon married, and had a daughter named Hazel. To her, Carl spoke little of Jamaica. “It was as if he had been born an airman in the Royal Air Force,” Hazel Carby writes in “Imperial Intimacies,” her new book of political history, which came out last month…

Read the entire review here.

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Archive Fever

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-10-07 01:23Z by Steven

Archive Fever


Tiana Reid, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of English and Comparative Literature
Columbia University, New York, New York

Autobiography and archival research collide in Hazel Carby’s memoir

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands by Hazel V. Carby. Verso. 416 pages. $29.

“Are we going to burn it?” A question about the fate of the future concludes Hazel Carby’s Race Men (1998), a powerful academic book about suffocating representations of black American masculinities based on a lecture the author delivered at Harvard. In her newest book, Carby is already burnt, the result of a smoldered past. “Imperial Intimacies is a very British story,” she writes in the preface. It is also her story: about growing up after World War II, about her childhood in the area now known as South London, about the family histories of her white Welsh mother and black Jamaican father, about, in all, the public and private agonies of imperialism and colonialism.

Probing the auto-historical, Carby studies her parents’ experiences in Jamaica and the United Kingdom, the “two islands” of the book’s subtitle. Her parents’ islands are connected not only by biological reproduction or a chance romance but also by the entanglement of ideologies. Her familial research at the National Archives of Jamaica and the United Kingdom offers at the same time a glimpse into the machinery of colonialism: the vexing racial iconography of postwar Britain, the psychic drains of poverty, the endlessness of wartime…

Read the entire review here.

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Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2019-09-26 00:11Z by Steven

Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands

Verso Books
416 pages
6 x 9-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9781788735094
Ebook ISBN: 9781788735124

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies; Professor of American Studies
Yale University

Imperial Intimacies by Hazel V. Carby

A haunting and evocative history of British empire, told through one woman’s search through her family’s story

“Where are you from?” was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post–World War II London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh mother, Carby’s place in her home, her neighbourhood, and her country of birth was always in doubt.

Emerging from this setting, Carby untangles the threads connecting members of her family to each other in a web woven by the British Empire across the Atlantic. We meet Carby’s working-class grandmother Beatrice, a seamstress challenged by poverty and disease. In England, she was thrilled by the cosmopolitan fantasies of empire, by cities built with slave-trade profits, and by street peddlers selling fashionable Jamaican delicacies. In Jamaica, we follow the lives of both the “white Carbys” and the “black Carbys,” as Mary Ivey, a free woman of colour, whose children are fathered by Lilly Carby, a British soldier who arrived in Jamaica in 1789 to be absorbed into the plantation aristocracy. And we discover the hidden stories of Bridget and Nancy, two women owned by Lilly who survived the Middle Passage from Africa to the Caribbean.

Moving between the Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.

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Afrofuturism’s Others

Posted in Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2013-05-28 02:37Z by Steven

Afrofuturism’s Others

Tate Modern
Starr Auditorium
London SE1 9TG
Saturday, 2013-06-15, 14:00-16:00 BST (Local Time)

Ellen Gallagher, Deluxe 2004–5 (detail) Mixed media, 60 frames, 38.9 x 32 cm each
Tate Photography © Tate

Ellen Gallagher’s work deconstructs received truths and weaves together propositional narratives, inhabiting spaces where the future collapses into the past, obsolescence into technology and image into text. These are spaces carved out by the cultural aesthetic of Afrofuturism.

In the context of Gallagher’s work, speakers will explore and complicate readings of Afrofuturism and its influence on contemporary artists’ practices, creating an intricate understanding of the genre and its evolutions. Speakers include Zoe Whitley (Independent Curator and panel co-organiser), Hazel V. Carby (Professor of African American Studies and Director of the Initiative on Race Gender and Globalisation at Yale University), Amna Malik (Lecturer in Art History and Theory at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL), and Lili Reynaud-Dewar

This event is related to the exhibition Ellen Gallagher: AxME

For more information, click here.

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Becoming Modern Racialized Subjects: Detours through our pasts to produce ourselves anew

Posted in Articles, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2010-05-12 00:28Z by Steven

Becoming Modern Racialized Subjects: Detours through our pasts to produce ourselves anew

Cultural Studies
Volume 23, Number 4 (July 2009)
pages 624-657
DOI: 10.1080/09502380902950948

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies
Yale University

This essay is a close engagement with the work of Stuart Hall which has been central to the project of unraveling the complexities of difference, divisions in history, consciousness and humanity, embedded in the geo-political oppositions of colonial center and colonized margin, home and abroad, and metropole and periphery. Hall has exposed the temporal enigma that haunts the relation between colonial and post-colonial subject formation. In response, the essay focuses on the geo-politics rather than the linear temporality of encounters in an examination of the sources of tension, contention and anxiety that arise as racialized subjects are brought into being through narration in examples drawn from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano and post-colonial Caribbean novelists. The essay concludes by positing an alternative narrative for the emergence of the modern racialized state in Britain, one that has its origins in official responses to the presence of black American troops and West Indian civilian and Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel on British soil during World War II, rather than to the Caribbean migrants who arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948.

…It was not only black subjects that were policed and disciplined. Black servicemen were dialogically constituted in their blackness in and through their potential and actual encounters with white women who were also to be ‘managed’. Reynolds records the ‘intensive efforts [that] were made to guide the conduct of British women’. For women who were in the armed service ‘military discipline was invoked’ to discourage them from fraternizing with black soldiers and by January 1944 these policies hardened when ‘the Women’s Territorial Auxillary issued an order ‘‘forbidding its members to speak to colored American soldiers except in the presence of a white [person]’’’. These systems of surveillance were not only instituted and regulated by the military they were also enabled and maintained by members of local constabularies who ‘routinely reported women soldiers found in the company of black GIs to their superiors.’ Even civilian women were prosecuted by their local police who evoked ‘a variety of laws’ to take them into custody when they were found ‘in company of black soldiers’ (Reynolds 1996, p. 229).

White women were counseled by families, friends and authorities alike, against marriage with black men; black American soldiers who wished to marry British women were refused permission to do so by their Commanding Officers and quickly transferred. Black journalist Ormus Davenport, ‘himself a wartime GI, claimed that there had been a ‘‘gentleman’s agreement’’ to prevent mixed marriages’. But ‘in the 8th Air Force Service Command where most of the American Air Force blacks were concentrated, a total ban on such marriages was quite explicit’ (Reynolds 1996, p. 231). The result was disastrous for their offspring…

Read the entire article here.

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The Mulatta as a Dominant Fictional Character

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2010-01-13 02:58Z by Steven

The mulatta emerged as a dominant fictional character and as a frequent subject for painters, photographers, and filmmakers not simply because she was as Hazel Carby deems her, “a narrative device of mediation”.  Far from resolving issues of race, class, and gender, the ambivalence of the mulatta figure fascinated writers and readers, artists and audiences.  The mulatta as icon, then became a representative of unspeakable subjugation and erotic desire, both inter- and intraracial.  Styled as the ideal template for measuring black femininity, she was, by turns, a constrained symbol of Victorian womanhood, a seductive temptress, and a deceptive, independent, modern woman.  Visual and fictional portraits of the mulatta attempted to balance and conjure these interpretations simultaneously, but only by tracing the dialogue between visual and fictional renderings can we comprehend the collaborative and experimental nature of these artistic endeavors.

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson. Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance.  New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. 2006. Pages xix-xx.


Belonging to Britain

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, History, Live Events, New Media, Slavery, Social Science, United Kingdom, Videos on 2009-11-04 04:28Z by Steven

Belonging to Britain

The Munk Centre for International Studies
University of Toronto
Video Length: 00:46:36

Hazel V. Carby, Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies
Yale University

In her lecture, “Belonging to Britain”, Hazel Carby looks at the historic relationship between England and Jamaica, including the history of the slave trade in Bristol and the complex question of identity for those of mixed British and West Indian heritage. Carby is a professor of African American Studies and American Studies at Yale University.

View the video here.

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