Sculpting and lynching: The making and unmaking of the Black citizen in late nineteenth-century America

Authors
Citation
M. Hatt, Sculpting and lynching: The making and unmaking of the Black citizen in late nineteenth-century America, OX ART J, 24(1), 2001, pp. 1-22
Citations number
66
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Arts & Architecture
Journal title
OXFORD ART JOURNAL
ISSN journal
0142-6540 → ACNP
Volume
24
Issue
1
Year of publication
2001
Pages
1 - 22
Database
ISI
SICI code
0142-6540(2001)24:1<1:SALTMA>2.0.ZU;2-4
Abstract
This article begins with an examination of two spectacles from the end of t he nineteenth century which represent the emancipated 'Negro:' the Tennesse e Centennial Exposition and Saint-Gauden's Shaw Memorial in Boston. There a re important difference, not least in the significance of their locations. In the North, the black is a free citizen, while the Jim Crow South denies the status granted by the Fourteenth Amendment. This model of good North ve rsus bad South is not taken at face value, however, for underpinning both s pectacles are shared beliefs. In both, the black citizen is constructed acc ording to a white ideal of black labour; in both, this coalescence of class and race is founded on the same concern for laissez-faire economics and it s role in bringing about white unity; and both, nostalgia works to reify th e past between black and white Americans. This article ends by introducing a third spectacle: the lynching. This points to a further common feature of these visual events: all circumscribe the recognition of the black as subj ect, and thus mark the limits of black citizenship. In spite of the very di fferent idioms of racism, all share a belief that the abstract freedom gran ted by the Constitution is necessarily limited by concrete social and natur al formations. The free black North and the unfree black in the Jim Crow So uth are, in Adorno's famous phrase, 'torn halves of an integral freedom to which they do not add up'. Black citizenship is denied by the very gesture that offers it.