Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiii

After making the nearly eight-hour flight from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle International Airport, I was plagued by the sneaking suspicion that everyone in Paris spoke English, but none of them would do so with me. My suspicions were...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvii

I owe much to the people and institutions that generously helped and supported me through the writing of this book. I am sure that I will forget some integral person, so please forgive me in advance and know that I am truly grateful to all who played a part. First, I would...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-15

On August 25, 1970, anthropologist Margaret Mead and writer James Baldwin met for the first time to have three recorded conversations, totaling more than seven hours of tape that, once transcribed, would compose the book A Rap on Race (1971). The Mead and...

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1. Becoming American through Ethnographic Writing: Zora Neale Hurston and the Performance of Ethnography

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pp. 16-57

In 1954, Zora Neale Hurston admitted to her friend William Bradford Huie that she was gripped by the desire to puke when she read the works of writers such as Richard Wright because she felt they pandered to the white desire for black pathology...

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2. Escape through Ethnography: Literary Regionalism and the Image of Nonracial Alignment in Richard Wright’s Travel Writing

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pp. 58-90

“I am a rootless man,” Richard Wright declares very early in White Man, Listen! (1957). It is a simple utterance meant to capture the tie between his statelessness and his humanity. “I declare unabashedly that I like and even cherish the state of...

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3. Deconstructing the Romance of Ethnography: Queering Knowledge in James Baldwin’s Another Country

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pp. 91-125

In August 1970, sitting across from Margaret Mead, James Baldwin recalls a run-in with the employees of a Tallahassee bank who had refused to cash his $250 check. Three months into researching a story on the American South, Baldwin was broke...

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4. Ethnography of the Absurd: Chester Himes’s Detective Fiction and Counterimages of Black Life

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pp. 126-152

In January 1957, Marcel Duhamel approached Chester Himes to write a crime novel for the Gallimard publishing house’s Série noir. Himes, who, like so many of his African American contemporaries, had left the United States four years earlier to live in...

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Conclusion: Look Down! The Black Arts Affirmation of Place and the Refusal to Translate

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pp. 153-171

More than a decade after the landmark desegregation case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), three years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and in the midst of the Vietnam War, on July 29, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order...

Notes

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pp. 173-192

Bibliography

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pp. 193-203

Index

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pp. 205-212

About the Author

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p. 213