- Editor’s Note
This issue goes to press in the wake of the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, followed by the shooting of police officers during the peaceful protest led by Black Lives Matter in Dallas, Texas. The shocking events remind us of the continued need for grounded understanding of the structures of racism, violence, and state power and clear visions for action and dialogue. Many of the essays included here address themes that are critical to these issues. Tyler Wall traces the emergence of police dogs in the mid-1950s and 1960s in the context of white bourgeois fears of black criminality and insurgency and examines the role of the police dog in the policing of the color line. Pacharee Sudinaraset, by juxtaposing the Kerner Report of 1968 and Cynthia Kadohata’s 1992 novel In the Heart of the Valley of Love, explores the afterlife and counterlives of US Cold War racial politics, shedding light on the politics of visuality and theorizing urban insurrection, cross-racial solidarity, and antiblack racism. In a similar vein, Cynthia Dobbs also examines the geography of race in urban America through the analysis of Ralph Ellison’s essay about New York, and adds the sonics to the visual in understanding the containment of, and performativity of, black identity. Daniel HoSang and Joe Lowndes study cultural representations of race and “parasitism” deployed in attacks against public employees during the Great Recession, demonstrating that the racialized and gendered constructions of parasitism have become transposed onto white workers. Robert Johnson’s study traces the genealogy of the notion of “energy slaves” to show that equating the labor done by humans and that fueled by fossil fuels erases the class, race, gender, and international stratification of fossil economy.
The Book Reviews include five essays. Jodi Melamed discusses three books that interrogate the neoliberal university and the capabilities of oppositional intellectual labor. The four books on “early” African American literature not only expand the chronological scope of African American literature but, as Britt Rusert’s insightful review illustrates, also raise important methodological and theoretical questions about African American authorship, textuality, print culture, and personhood. Joshua Paddison examines four books that treat religion and race as constitutive ideologies and emphasize transnational, cross-racial, and comparative regional contexts. Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard reviews the much-discussed Intimacies of Four Continents by Lisa Lowe in relation to four [End Page v] other works to contextualize new scholarship on the making of the Caribbean through the nexus of indigenous dispossession, African chattel slavery, Asian indenture, and European settlement. Charles Hughes reviews five books that explore music’s centrality in identity formation and cultural and economic marketplace and how music reflects and affects historical and ideological structures. In the Event Reviews, Ariel Nereson gives an insightful discussion of how Lin-Manuel Miranda’s critically acclaimed Broadway show Hamilton creates meanings interdependently as both entertainment and history. Brent Cebul reviews the American Enterprise exhibition that recently opened at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, critically discussing how the museum’s goal in presenting diverse and structural understanding of capital, power, economics, and politics is or is not achieved. Ellen Tani discusses Betye Saar: Still Tickin’, a major retrospective exhibition of the Los Angeles–based installation artist whose work expressing the mechanisms of race and space is all the more relevant in today’s political and cultural context. [End Page vi]