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Body as Evidence

Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender

Janell Hobson

Publication Year: 2012

Analyzes how race and gender intersect in the rhetoric and imagery of popular culture in the early twenty-first century. In Body as Evidence, Janell Hobson challenges postmodernist dismissals of identity politics and the delusional belief that the Millennial era reflects a “postracial” and “postfeminist” world. Hobson points to diverse examples in cultural narratives, which suggest that new media rely on old ideologies in the shaping of the body politic. Body as Evidence creates a theoretical mash-up of prose and poetry to illuminate the ways that bodies still matter as sites of political, cultural, and digital resistance. It does so by examining various representations, from popular shows like American Idol to public figures like the Obamas to high-profile cases like the Duke lacrosse rape scandal to current trends in digital culture. Hobson’s study also discusses the women who have fueled and retooled twenty-first-century media to make sense of antiracist and feminist resistance. Her discussions include the electronica of Janelle Monáe, M.I.A., and Björk; the feminist film odysseys of Wanuri Kahiu and Neloufer Pazira; and the embodied resistance found simply in raising one’s voice in song, creating a blog, wearing a veil, stripping naked, or planting a tree. Spinning knowledge out of this information overload, Hobson offers a global black feminist meditation on how our bodies mobilize, destabilize, and decolonize the meanings of race and gender in an increasingly digitized and globalized world.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This book is the culmination of years of critical thinking, critical research, critical teaching, and critical conversations. I am deeply grateful for those who’ve remained in my life or who brushed against it to plant and germinate various seeds of wisdom. Such individuals include my mother, Jeanette...

Prelude: Haiku

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pp. 1-

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Introduction

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pp. 3-17

Black bodies surface quite spectacularly in twenty‑first‑century media. Consider the following: Scenario #1 On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first black President of the United States of America. To mark the historic moment, several black churches in the area where I lived organized bus trips to...

Part I: Text Messages

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Chapter 1: Pop Goes Democracy: Mediating Race, Gender, and Nation on American Idol

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pp. 21-41

Parallels between presidential elections and the hit TV series American Idol are not hard to make. Indeed, they had become punch lines in comedy routines: from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert complaining that it took too long to determine the next American Idol (in a gag that had audiences assuming he...

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Chapter 2: Understanding “The New Black”: Destabilizing Blackness in the New Millennium

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pp. 43-63

Weeks before the historic election on November 4, 2008, of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States, another phenomenon took place. Here, I refer to the debut of the music video for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it),” Beyoncé’s second single from her third solo album...

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Chapter 3: Body as Evidence: The Facts of Blackness, the Fictions of Whiteness

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pp. 65-86

On February 20, 2006, I guest lectured for a graduate seminar on Black Popular Culture, at Duke University. There I was to engage students in conversation about my first book, Venus in the Dark, which examines the visual legacies of black women’s sexual representations—beginning with...

Interlude: Hip-Hop Hegemony

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pp. 87-90

Part II: Geo Trackings

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Chapter 4: Digital Whiteness, Primitive Blackness: Racializing the “Digital Divide”

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pp. 93-114

Black bodies occupy a peculiar space in futuristic cinema. Look no farther than the 1999 box office movie hit The Matrix, which positions its main black characters in opposition to “cyberspace.”1 Morpheus, the celebrated techie and leader of armed resistance against the titular technocracy, first emerges...

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Chapter 5: Digital Divas Strike Back: Digital Cultures and Feminist Futures

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pp. 115-138

At the dawn of our information age, circa 2000, filmmaker Julie Dash embarked on The Digital Diva, an interactive CD‑Rom and film project.1 In this work, the titular Digital Diva, Anna Achebe, immerses herself in a digital lifestyle but is eventually targeted for police surveillance—and for...

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Chapter 6: Exotic Sisterhood: The Limits and Possibilities of Global Feminism

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pp. 139-162

With a feminist sensibility and streetwise sass, Suheir Hammad, the celebrated Palestinian American spoken word poet, peppers her poem, “Exotic,” with words of resistance to the objectifying, white, Western, and heterosexual male gaze that reduces her to a number of “exotic” stereotypes. Mapping these...

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Epilogue: Widening Our Lens on the World

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pp. 163-176

In the midst of widespread destruction and suffering, misguided Eurocentric news coverage “explaining” Haitian poverty and its history of political upheavals, and various pleas for donations and relief, the women of Haiti took to the streets and summoned G*d.1 Raising their voices in song to...

Postlude: Technologies of the Flesh

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pp. 177-178

Notes

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pp. 179-183

References

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pp. 185-196

Index

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pp. 197-208


E-ISBN-13: 9781438444024
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438444017

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Human body -- Social aspects.
  • Women in popular culture.
  • Popular culture and globalization.
  • Feminism and mass media.
  • Ethnicity on television.
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