The Black Metropolis

Wed, Feb 28, 2018, 4:30 pm
Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 4:30 PM | East Pyne 010Poster for: Black Metropolis

It is a truism to say that Drake and Cayton’s groundbreaking study Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City needs an updating. Not only has the very definition of Blackness dramatically changed – and this change was also happening during the forties while the study was being completed –, the very concept of, "metropolis," has also undergone a rapid expansion during these last years. Still understood as the place, as the Enlightenment wanted it, where the air has the smell of freedom, it attracts Black people more than ever. And yet, from the ancient cities of pre-colonial Africa to the megapolises of today – Lima, Cairo, Lagos, London, Paris, etc. – the claim of a Black neighborhood, of a Bronxville, remains permanent, despite the futuristic call that has always been embedded with the concept of the metropolis. The stamp of science fiction is also visible, and the vision of Black utopias as well. These are the threads the lecture intends to follow, and it does this by insisting on the quizzical work of a contemporary African American writer, Colson Whitehead.

Professor Nganang is a Visiting Professor in the Humanities Council and Old Dominion Fellow in French and Italian, teaching an undergraduate cinema course, FRE 383: “The Black Metropolis,”(link is external)spring 2018.

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