I ❤️ (Racist) NY: Envisioning Race in the Empire City
a Decolonizing Vision Speaker Series lecture by Jacqueline Nassy Brown
April 19, Thursday
6 to 8 pm
Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Anthropology, Hunter College, City University of New York
In the fall of 2015, a professor of New York City history offered an introductory lecture on that topic to a class of some 200 mostly White students at an elite university. He did so by opining that what sets New York City apart from the rest of the nation is its 400-year long history of “diversity and toleration.” One piece of evidence he provided for this claim was visual. He conjured the image of multiply-colored bodies on the subway.
Based on ongoing research, this paper examines the ways that visual evidence is summoned to make claims and counter-claims about racism, while also comparing the reception of concrete evidence of racism that is received (or not) aurally. It also shows that claims about New York’s self-proclaimed status as a non-racist haven accord inordinate power to the visual in those realms constituted as quintessentially New York—like the subway—while simultaneously ignoring the visual evidence of racism in other kinds of spaces. The essay further suggests that one of the more insidious forms of sensorial power lies in Whites’ use of colored people’s visually available bodies—on the subway and elsewhere– in order to constitute themselves as non-racist, even as some of the more impoverished among that multiracial multitude, for reasons of racist urban policy and patterns of racial discrimination in employment, can barely afford to ride the subway.
Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality
285 Mercer Street, 4th Floor
This event is free & open to the public. Venue is accessible. For more information, please contact NYU CSGS at csgs(at)nyu.edu or 212-992-9540.
Facebook event page here.
Co-sponsored by the NYU Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality and Department of Anthropology.
Jacqueline Nassy Brown is an associate professor of anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at CUNY. She is a feminist ethnographer who studies the intersection of race, place and nation. She brings an anthropological lens to bear on place and space, local identities and global imaginaries, and diaspora and empire, showing how these variously illuminate the lived experience of Blackness. She is the author of Dropping Anchor, Setting Sail: Geographies of Race in Black Liverpool. Her essays have appeared in Social Text, Antipode, American Ethnologist, and Cultural Anthropology, as well as in edited volumes on Race and Globalization and Black Europe. Her current book project studies the fraught racial politics underlying New York identity.