Race Capital?

Harlem as Setting and Symbol

Edited by Andrew M. Fearnley and Daniel Matlin

Columbia University Press

Race Capital?

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Pub Date: November 2018

ISBN: 9780231183222

312 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£50.00

Pub Date: November 2018

ISBN: 9780231544801

312 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£50.00

Race Capital?

Harlem as Setting and Symbol

Edited by Andrew M. Fearnley and Daniel Matlin

Columbia University Press

For close to a century, Harlem has been the iconic black neighborhood widely seen as the heart of African American life and culture, both celebrated as the vanguard of black self-determination and lamented as the face of segregation. But with Harlem’s demographic, physical, and commercial landscapes rapidly changing, the neighborhood’s status as a setting and symbol of black political and cultural life looks uncertain. As debate swirls around Harlem’s present and future, Race Capital? revisits a century of the area’s history, culture, and imagery, exploring how and why it achieved its distinctiveness and significance and offering new accounts of Harlem’s evolving symbolic power.

In this book, leading scholars consider crucial aspects of Harlem’s social, political, and intellectual history; its artistic, cultural, and economic life; and its representation across an array of media and genres. Together they reveal a community at once local and transnational, coalescing and conflicted; one that articulated new visions of a cosmopolitan black modernity while clashing over distinctions of ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality. Topics explored include Harlem as a literary phenomenon; recent critiques of Harlem exceptionalism; gambling and black business history; the neighborhood’s transnational character; its importance in the black freedom struggle; black queer spaces; and public policy and neighborhood change in historical context. Spanning a century, from the emergence of the Harlem Renaissance to present-day controversies over gentrification, Race Capital? models new Harlem scholarship that interrogates exceptionalism while taking seriously the importance of place and locality, offering vistas onto new directions for African American and diasporic studies.
Harlem: race capital, center of black culture, seat of black militancy—or dreamscape? These rigorous, innovative, and bold essays by contemporary scholars confront the myriad ways Harlem signifies and offer fresh, new ways of understanding the aesthetic, cultural, and historical meanings of that iconic place. Mary Helen Washington, author of The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s
A marvelous collection of scholars from across disciplines offer an unparalleled understanding of the importance—real, symbolic, or imagined—of Harlem to African American and black diasporic cultures. George Hutchinson, author of Facing the Abyss: American Literature and Culture in the 1940s
With forceful essays and sharp framing, this volume offers an indispensable treatment of a single, iconic American neighborhood, providing, with it, a window to the world. Race Capital? reminds us why and how Harlem is a feeling, a place, and a force of history. It captures, too, why we still need reminding at all. N. D. B. Connolly, author of A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida
These fascinating essays will change the way you think about modern Harlem. From numbers-runners to communists, poets to street-corner orators, Harlemites have been making and remaking urban culture since the Great Migration. Provocative, luminous, and eye-opening, this collection exemplifies the very best of recent scholarship about the Mecca of black America. Martha Biondi, author of To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City
In this important and timely book, the wide-ranging and layered interrogation of the so-called “race capital” trope reveals a Harlem with much of its warts, contradictions, subtleties, and splendor. The chapters prod and provoke, unearthing new ways, across space and time, of thinking about a place that we thought we knew. Shannon King, author of Whose Harlem Is This, Anyway? Community Politics and Grassroots Activism During the New Negro Era
List of Figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction, by Andrew M. Fearnley and Daniel Matlin
Part I: Mythologies
1. From Prophecy to Preservation: Harlem as Temporal Vector, by Andrew M. Fearnley
2. Class, Gender, and Community in Harlem Sketches: Representing Black Urban Modernity in Interwar African American Newspapers, by Clare Corbould
3. Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto Discourse, by Daniel Matlin
4. What’s the Matter with Baby Sister?: Chester Himes’s Struggles to Film Harlem, by Paula J. Massood
Part II: Models
5. Harlem’s Difference, by Winston James
6. Black Women’s Intellectual Labor and the Social Spaces of Black Radical Thought in Harlem, by Minkah Makalani
7. Harlem as Culture Capital in 1920s African American Fiction, by Cheryl A. Wall
8. City of Numbers: Rethinking Harlem’s Place in Black Business History, by Shane White
9. Harlem, USA: Capital of the Black Freedom Movement, by Brian Purnell
10. Richard Bruce Nugent and the Queer Memory of Harlem, by Dorothea Löbbermann
Part III: Black No More?
11. Race, Class, and Gentrification in Harlem Since 1980, by Themis Chronopoulos
12. When Harlem Was in Vogue Magazine, by John L. Jackson Jr.
Harlem: An Afterword, by Farah Jasmine Griffin
Contributors
Index

About the Author

Andrew M. Fearnley is lecturer in twentieth-century American history at the University of Manchester.

Daniel Matlin is senior lecturer in the history of the United States of America since 1865 at King’s College London.