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Title: Black Genocides and the Visibility Paradox in Post-Holocaust African American and African Literature
Authors: Kucik, Emanuela
Advisors: Gleason, William
Belcher, Wendy
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: African
African American
Subjects: Literature
Black studies
African American studies
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: When Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2012, claims of genocide against African Americans appeared sporadically in public discourse. By the time of Eric Garner’s killing in 2014, these scattered claims had become increasingly frequent; however, they were often dismissed as groundless by observers completely unaware of the long history of the term “genocide” in African American thought and activism. Since the appearance of the word genocide in 1944, African American communities have consistently used the term to describe the systemic violence leveled against them. And yet, the story of the intersections of blackness and the concept of genocide is an underexplored narrative. Black Genocides moves toward filling this gap by presenting a transnational literary history of the term genocide in writings about racialized violence against Black communities in the Post-Holocaust era. Black Genocides asks, “what does literature reveal about the history and function of the concept of genocide in ending violence toward Black populations?” To demonstrate the intersections of genocide and blackness in an international context and to connect populations that are not typically considered together, I examine the writings of African Americans in the Post-World War II United States, an Afro-European author in Nazi Germany, and genocide survivors and Western journalists/aid workers in Rwanda and Darfur during and after the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and the 2003 Darfur Genocide. In the project, I advance two central claims. First, I argue that the authors use the concept of genocide to re-conceptualize Black suffering and render the violence that precipitated it illegal under the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention; in so doing, they transcend the boundaries of the term genocide by using it to account for and outlaw violence against a group that was typically excluded from its application. Next, I argue that the authors grapple with what I am calling the “visibility paradox” of blackness, which is the reality that within the realm of genocide, blackness is consistently rendered both hyper-visible and invisible. Through unraveling this paradox, the authors are able to produce expanded, revolutionized conceptions of genocide that include Black suffering in all of its specificity and detail.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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