In The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973), Army veteran and CIA agent Dan Freeman transforms himself from a self-proclaimed Uncle Tom into a black-nationalist revolutionary. His stated aim is to deliver black America into freedom as a new people while forcing the U. S. to stop the war in Vietnam, and his weapon of choice is racial performance. As Freeman trains his army in how to reuse old modalities and iconographies of blackness, Spook also insists that its spectators learn to look at race, racial representation, and racial history anew. Proposing a practice of blackness (and black spectatorship) that, like Jose Esteban Muñoz’s theory of “disidentification,” destabilizes the categories and meanings of race themselves, Spook’s creators argue for trans-racial, transnational identity no longer rooted in the black American past but rather tied to a post-Watts, post-Vietnam global future, and Third World consciousness.


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pp. 325-339
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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