Thinking While Black: Translating the Politics and Popular Culture of a Rebel Generation (Paperback)

Thinking While Black: Translating the Politics and Popular Culture of a Rebel Generation By Daniel McNeil Cover Image

Thinking While Black: Translating the Politics and Popular Culture of a Rebel Generation (Paperback)


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Thinking While Black brings together the work and ideas of the most notorious film critic in America, one of the most influential intellectuals in the United Kingdom, and a political and cultural generation that consumed images of rebellion and revolution around the world as young Black teenagers in the late 1960s. Drawing on hidden and little known archives of resistance and resilience, it sheds new light on the politics and poetics of young people who came together, often outside of conventional politics, to rock against racism in the 1970s and early ‘80s. It re-examines debates in the 1980s and ‘90s about artists who “spread out” to mount aggressive challenges to a straight, white, middle-class world, and entertainers who “sold out” to build their global brands with performances that attacked the Black poor, rejected public displays of introspection, and expressed unambiguous misogyny and homophobia. Finally, it thinks with and through the work of writers who have been celebrated and condemned as eminent intellectuals and curmudgeonly contrarians in the twenty-first century. In doing so, it delivers the smartest and most nuanced investigation into thinkers such as Paul Gilroy and Armond White as they have evolved from “young soul rebels” to “middle-aged mavericks” and “grumpy old men,” lamented the debasement and deskilling of Black film and music in a digital age, railed against the discourteous discourse and groupthink of screenies and Internet Hordes, and sought to stimulate some deeper and fresher thinking about racism, nationalism, multiculturalism, political correctness and social media.

Listen along with this Spotify playlist inspired by the book!

For copyright reasons, this book is available in the U.S.A only.
DANIEL MCNEIL is a professor in the Department of Gender Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the Queen’s National Scholar Chair in Black Studies. He is also the author of Sex and Race in the Black Atlantic and a coeditor of Migration and Stereotypes in Performance and Culture.
Product Details ISBN: 9781978830875
ISBN-10: 1978830874
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: December 9th, 2022
Pages: 222
Language: English
“A must-read for all committed to a critically engaged approach to the study of race, inequality, and counter-cultural musings. Daniel McNeil offers a lucid, smart, well-written, and wonderfully novel contribution to twenty-first-century Black studies scholarship. It is truly a superb reflection on the deep histories of Black Atlantic intellectual thought.”
— Kamari Maxine Clarke

“Daniel McNeil has written an insightful, deeply informed account of transnational Black intellectual thought and cultural critique told through the entanglements of two contrasting figures, British cultural theorist Paul Gilroy and American film critic Armond White. A nuanced, intriguing, and provocative read.”
— David Theo Goldberg

“Daniel McNeil has undertaken a heroic endeavour. Through the low-end frequencies of his own soulful voice, he has reminded us of something we once had: a genuine open-air forum for intellectual reflection on the politics of popular culture. Paul Gilroy and Armond White are ideal characters for the drama of ideas McNeil presents on the page, driven by noble commitments yet deploying an uncompromising zeal in their aesthetic judgments. Thinking While Black is a hell of a book, and it just might offer us the chance to break out of our current hellish predicament in the world of cultural criticism.”
— Dhanveer Singh Brar

“McNeil has created an expansive chronicle of Black history and pop culture in both the US and UK over the past 50 years, and a powerful story about sameness, difference, and shared sense of purpose that is destined to become an invaluable resource in contemporary cultural studies.”
— Kenneth Montague

“A thoroughly original account of two mavericks of Black public intellectualism who, while vastly different in tone, temperament, and politics, are both witnesses to the complex, ludic, and ultimately loving promise of the Black radical archive. Thinking While Black is a testament to deep anti-racist political yearnings that are challenging but not contrarian, strident but not polemical, errant but not wayward, and utopian but never naive. A serious book by a serious thinker.”
— Sivamohan Valluvan

“With insurgency as an analytical anchor, Thinking While Black is an impressive study of how Black intellectual life is generated through hopeful contestations. Offering a deep reading of provocations offered by Paul Gilroy and Armond White, this text beautifully historicizes the soul rebel as a figure of capacious and rigorous critique that seeks out promising and fantastic futures.”
— Katherine McKittrick

Thinking While Black provides a critical assessment of two prominent cultural critics. In comparing and contrasting Paul Gilroy and Armond White, McNeil avoids hagiography in his thoughtful, scholarly, and yet accessible appraisal of the two influential intellectuals from two different sides of the ‘Black Atlantic.’ The result is an insightful reflection on the politics and aesthetics of cultural criticism.”
— David Austin

“In Thinking While Black, Daniel McNeil explains why the radical approaches inherent in the intellectual journeys of Gilroy and White matter, re/constructs the sociocultural contexts within which each emerged, and examines the processes and consequences of their evolutions from ‘young soul rebels’ into ‘middle-aged mavericks.’ His attentive and meticulous analysis of the ambitions, accomplishments, and trajectories of these two Black thinkers complicates any simple categorization of Black intellectualism.”
— Michele A. Johnson

Thinking While Black is an important effort to contextualize and elucidate the thought and politics of Paul Gilroy, one of the most important contemporary British/European intellectuals, to audiences that too often fail to see the power, originality, and significance of his work.”
— Lawrence Grossberg