08. Transatlantic Black Popular Culture: UK and US (1980s-90s)

In direct dialogue with the post-structuralist, deconstructive work preceding it, black independent filmmaking and criticism added an anti-essentialist politics of race, nation, and ethnicity to these earlier traditions that had typically sought far and wide for an “other” located outside the Anglo-European context. “One issue at stake,” write Isaac Julien and Kobena Mercer, “is the potential break-up or deconstruction of structures that determine what is regarded culturally central and what is regarded culturally marginal.” Instead, one could be black and British without contradiction, or black and gay, or Asian and feminist. They continue: “The point of contestation is no longer between multiculturlism and anti-racism, but inside the concept of ethnicity itself.”

This “new politics of difference,” mobilized a formal vocabulary based on postmodern hybridity, creolization, and appropriation, pushing past the deconstructing of binaries and instead offering a building up of alternative identities, histories, and aesthetics mixed through complexity, contradiction, and contingency. “The more we assert our own identities as historically marginalized groups, the more we expose the tyranny of a so-called center,” explains Pratibha Parmar. Departing from a realist practice, they blended narrative, documentary, and experimental forms artfully linking rather than colliding elements. Parmar writes: “It is a condition of these postmodern times that we all live heterogenous realities, constructing our sense of selves through the hybriditty of cultural practices, and this is inevitably reflected in the aesthetics of form…The form itself needs to be interrogated as much as the content, and by using a combination of styles and narrratives…I attempt tp ennunciate the nuances of our subjecitivites in my work.” The personal, sexual, and political grounded this work to the lived experiences of diverse black people who were as different from each other as they were from the norm.

One comment on “08. Transatlantic Black Popular Culture: UK and US (1980s-90s)

  1. After the 70s black culture was growing fast and black people were expressed themselves through media specially film. HIV and AIDS were thought to come from homosexuality even though that was accurate. One thing I learned is that media praxis and ethical and moral beliefs are not perfect.

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