Commentary & Forums

Re-framing Crime, Violence, and Poverty: new cinematic narratives of Black criminality in Imperial Dreams

Introduction: reframings

Redmond (2017) has noted that, in order to garner support for the punitive policies of the War on Drugs, Americans were presented with stories that framed those impacted by the war on drugs as enemies of the state. In the 1980’s, media outlets released a surge of stories covering the “crack crisis” that presented crime and drug use with a black face. Stories presented black males as “gangbangers” and played on historical stereotypes of black men being dangerous, predatory, criminals (Alexander 2012).

Films on the experience of inner city black Americans also reflected a negative image of these communities and their residents until around 1990. Before the 1990’s many films placed the blame for inner city problems primarily on the criminal actions of young black males (Alexander 2012, Brooks 1997).  For example, in the 1970’s, directors made movies about the experiences of black inner city Americans. These films were subsequently criticized for their exploitive depictions of urban black experience. This criticisms was in part due to the fact many of the these movies had white directors. This perception by commentators lead to the term “Blaxploitation” being coined in reference to films made in the era (Brooks 1997). Black character representation during this period was often as criminally deviant characters (Bausch 2013). It would be another 20 years before those subject to War on Drugs policy would start to be depicted as sympathetic characters (Brooks 1997).

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Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus, Week 31: Adia Benton on Public Health, Ebola and Black Lives on Both Sides of the Atlantic

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to continue an ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice. You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.  In this post, Adia Benton discusses public health, Ebola, humanitarian aid, care, militarism, and evaluations of Black Lives on both sides of the Atlantic.

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I teach courses in African studies and global health that focus on political economy, history and power. No matter the course content, I find that I have to undergo and perform several kinds of (dis)orientations with students: together, we destabilize dominant frames for talking, writing and learning about the African continent (for example, how does ‘race’ matter there); we identify what is “critical” about “critical approaches” to public health and biomedicine; and we interrogate what it means to study and ultimately work in the fields of public health and medicine, as this professional terrain shifts on a tension that pits rhetorics and practices of safety and care against those of security and discipline. Continue reading

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Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project, Pedagogy

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus, Week 30: Savannah Shange’s Key & Peele Mix Tape Because Laughter Keeps Us Honest

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to continue an ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice. You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.  In this post, Savannah Shange uses comedy sketches by Key and Peele to enrich classroom discussion around race, masculinity, racism, anti-blackness, and affect.

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In my undergraduate courses on race and racism at a PWI, my students were largely a self-selected, social justice-minded group who sought sanctuary from their apolitical, Continue reading

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