Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora

Henry Louis Gates, JR., Author
Henry Louis Gates Jr., Basic, $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-465-01410-1
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Prolific author, editor, host of PBS's Faces of America, and the Harvard professor who was arrested (mistakenly) for breaking into his own Cambridge home, Gates is probably the most famous professor in the U.S. While asserting that "accounts of the culture wars [are] the stuff of undergraduate essays in English departments and Ph.D. theses," Gates offers four essays devoted to those wars as experienced in Britain's Black Arts Movement and at the advent of "cultural studies" in American universities. Readers accustomed to abstruse theory may find Gates's itinerary through contemporary colonial discourse theory and his assessment of "Spivak's critique of Benita Parry's critique of Abdul JamMohamed's critique of Homi Bhaba's critique of Edward Said's critique of colonial discourse" interesting, but this is definitely a book for the in-crowd—readers of Edmund Burke and those with some historical sense of Warren Hastings's trial might perk up.. In concluding this disordered farrago, Gates offers "two cheers for multiculturalism" and "an appeal for pluralism…of a singularly banal and uninspiring variety." A major disappointment from a major scholar. (Sept.)
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