Transoceanic Blackface: Empire, Race, Performance
Forthcoming from Northwestern University Press
"Performance Works" Series, edited by Patrick Anderson and Nicholas Ridout
Expected May 2024
Transoceanic Blackface: Empire, Race, Performance traces intertwined histories of racialized performance from the mid-eighteenth century through the early-twentieth century across the United States and the British Empire. Revising prevailing understandings of blackface and/or minstrelsy as distinctively US American cultural practices, this book assembles a material history of transnational traffics of racialized performances throughout the Anglophone imperial world. Individual chapters map the transoceanic circulations of blackface repertoires, focusing on: a theoretical introduction to blackface performance as centerpiece in the “furniture of empire”; the intertheatrical repertoires of blackface on- and off-stage in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century circum-Atlantic; the global popularity of early blackface minstrelsy epitomized by T.D. Rice’s “Jump Jim Crow”; the transoceanic traffics of ensemble blackface minstrelsy throughout the British colonies; widely-staged blackface burlesque versions of Othello as traces of the racial and sexual anxieties of empire; the entanglements of blackface, Orientalism, and gender drag throughout the Anglophone empire; and a survey of the enduring repertoires of transoceanic blackface throughout the formerly colonized world. Transoceanic Blackface ultimately offers critical insight into the ways in which racialized performance animated the imperial common sense of white supremacy on a global scale and how blackface minstrelsy furnished forth the enduring racial discourses of the Anglophone empire.