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Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora Hardcover – August 24, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The culture wars are likely most remembered as the conflicts between liberals and conservatives that started on American campuses and spilled out into the broader American society, arguments over whether or not the educational canon should focus so much on dead white men to debates about making cultural and social space for minority rights and gay marriage. Scholar Gates expands on notions of the “culture wars” to examine how clashes between Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism have played out in the U.S. and Britain from the Harlem Renaissance through the British black arts movement of the 1980s. Along the way, he explores the work of writer Richard Wright, social theorist Stuart Hall, anti-colonialist Edmund Burke, poet Amiri Baraka, filmmaker Spike Lee, and others. He explores the culture wars at play within the beloved black nationalist icon Franz Fanon, as well as the contrasts between the black arts movement in the U.S. and Britain and the debate about the relationship between art and the common people. While at times a bit too academic, Gates is also personal and playful in exploring “diaspora aesthetics.” --Vanessa Bush


W. J. T. Mitchell, Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago, and editor of Critical Theory
“[Stone] has a terrific eye for detail, bringing to life everything from the ruins of Germany to Ronald Reagan’s White House with a wonderfully waspish turn of phrase…. He captures well the West’s weakness, as well as the seemingly powerful challenge that eastern-style socialism posed to Western freedom.”

Cornel West, Princeton University
“Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a towering man of letters in American life. He also is a seminal literary theorist whose work in African-American Studies has been profound and pioneering. In this book, he engages the Enlightenment, Frantz Fanon and the quests for identity in a vintage Gates manner: brilliant, witty and free thinking!”

Paul Gilroy, Anthony Giddens Professor of Social Theory, London School of Economics and Political Science
“The colossus of critical theory has been sedated for a decade by securitocracy. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wants to re-awaken it. His lucidity, acuity and intellectually generosity conjure up fundamental issues that will help to settle the fate of Africa’s diasporas. Cultural Studies acquires a worldly history and we encounter interpretations of twentieth-century, black politics and letters that remain as startling as they are novel. Gates’ luminous provocations and insights have won a new urgency as the politics of culture assumes neocolonial as well as postcolonial patterns.”

Arnold Rampersad, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
“Bringing impeccable credentials to the persistently vital debate about cultural studies, Professor Gates has written a brilliant book that is as subtle and erudite as it is accessible to a wide range of readers. He consistently displays a sure grasp of the theoretical complexities of this controversial subject. At the same time, his arguments are leavened by the generosity of spirit and abundant good humor that have graced his immense body of work over the years.”

Kobena Mercer, author of Welcome to the Jungle
“Mapping the contested concept of culture in diasporic, post-colonial and multicultural spaces, Henry Louis Gates Jr. conveys far-reaching insights in a piquant style that never fails to stimulate and provoke. What results is a critical cosmopolitanism that puts him at the heart of humanist inquiry in an era of global change.”

Anthony Appiah, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy & the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
“Only Henry Louis Gates, Jr. could set sail from Edmund Burke's critique of imperialism in the 1790s, navigate through the turbulent culture wars of the 1990s, and find safe harbor in the new millennium with a re-imagined conception of race and identity.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Civitas Books; First Edition edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465014100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465014101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DC Reader on March 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not written for the laymen, but academics instead. I am surprised that Gates's approach to writting is akin to Cornel West's, but if you want ti impact peoples' lives as a writer, then you have to write for the people, not an elite group of academics.
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