Performing Postracialism

Reflections on Antiblackness, Nation, and Education through Contemporary Blackface in Canada

Table of contents

Introduction: Genesis and Intentions

Part I: Blackface in the Context of the Canadian Settler-Colonial Nation State

1. Contemporary Blackface in Canada as Performance of Antiblackness
2. What’s the Joke?: The Black Body as White Pleasure in Canadian Blackface
3. Defending Blackface: Performing the “Progressive,” Postracialist Canadian 
4. Pornotroping Performances: Overt Violence, Un/Gendering, and Sex in Contemporary Blackface

Part II: Blackface in Education Contexts in Canada

5. Blackface at University: The Antiblack Logics of Canadian Academia
6. “Making Them Better Leaders”: The Pedagogical Imperative, Institutional Priorities, and the Attenuation of Black Anger
7. Learning to Get Along at School, or Antiblack Postracialism through Multicultural Education
8. The Costs of Belonging for International Students
9. Fugitive Learning: Countering Postracialism and Making Black Life at University

Description

Blackface – instances in which non-Black persons temporarily darken their skin with make-up to impersonate Black people, usually for fun, and frequently in educational contexts – constitutes a postracialist pedagogy that propagates antiblack logics.

In Performing Postracialism, Philip S.S. Howard examines instances of contemporary blackface in Canada and argues that it is more than a simple matter of racial (mis)representation. The book looks at the ostensible humour and dominant conversations around blackface, arguing that they are manifestations of the particular formations of antiblackness in the Canadian nation state and its educational institutions. It posits that the occurrence of blackface in universities is not incidental, and outlines how educational institutions’ responses to blackface in Canada rely upon a motivation to protect whiteness.

Performing Postracialism draws from focus groups and individual interviews conducted with university students, faculty, administrators, and Black student associations, along with online articles about blackface, to provide the basis for a nuanced examination of the ways that blackface is experienced by Black persons. The book investigates the work done by Black students, faculty, and staff at universities to challenge blackface and the broader campus climate of antiblackness that generates it.