Darker than Blue: On the Moral Economies of Black Atlantic Culture

Paul Gilroy, Author . Harvard Univ. $22.95 (207p) ISBN 978-0-674-03570-6

Gilroy (Against Race ) offers a shrewd and invigorating discussion—originally delivered as the W.E.B. Du Bois lectures at Harvard University—poised on the fraught intersections of race, class, and status present in the overlapping histories of African-American popular culture, the automobile as American capitalism's “ur-commodity,” and the race-coded global reach of American style. Paying special attention to musical vernacular—from Robert Johnson to 50 Cent—Gilroy's stimulating reappraisal of the seductions of car culture underscores how status improvement for minorities has shifted from acquiring rights to acquiring objects. At the same time, he argues for the anticonsumerist notes struck by such “responsible troubadours” as Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. Gilroy demonstrates how understanding black experience is crucial in any serious study of modernity itself, at a time when global capitalism trades evermore in American-inflected styles of “blackness,” while simultaneously maintaining and reinforcing lines of racial and class subjugation. While assuming familiarity with Du Bois and latter-day Marxist cultural analysis, this is a reasonably accessible and highly rewarding read for anyone interested in the social and political significance of mass culture or the historically laden language of human rights in a postcolonial age. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/30/2009
Release date: 01/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 207 pages - 978-0-674-06023-4
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