The Black Body in Translation: Polish Productions of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in the 1960s
Abstract

This essay explores the cultural implications of blackface in four Polish-language productions of A Raisin in the Sun in the context of Poland's cold war politics of the 1960s. Drawing on Derrida's theory of translation as performance and Butler's notions of constructed corporeality, the essay examines blackface as an element of the interracial translation of the black body, taking place concurrently with the textual translation from English into Polish. The essay traces the tensions between these two kinds of translation to two major sources: the state's attempts to redefine Otherness along class rather than racial lines, and the theatres' desires to safeguard the historically precarious definition of Polish racial identity. Despite the multiple misrepresentations of blackness that these tensions produced, the essay argues that the cross-casting strategies utilized in the productions nevertheless managed to challenge Polish cultural codes of racial difference by emphasizing the materiality of the actors' bodies.


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