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Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black Americaby Jackson Jr.
Synopses & Reviews
Harlem is renowned as the epicenter of African American culture, a key reference point for blacks who seek to define themselves in relation to a certain version of African American tradition and history. The neighborhood is arguably the most famous in all New York, and home to more than a fifth of the population of Manhattan. But to most, Harlem is still thought of as the quintessential black slum-a symbol of the hard and fast boundaries that separate the rich from the poor in our cities.
With Harlemworld, John L. Jackson Jr. uncovers a Harlem that is far more complex and diverse than its caricature suggests. Many experts believe that black America consists of two geographically distinct populations: a neglected underclass living in hopeless urban poverty, and a more successful suburban middle class of college graduates and thriving professionals. Through extensive fieldwork and interviews with residents of Harlem, Jackson explodes these presumptions. Harlemworld probes the everyday interactions of Harlemites with their black coworkers, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and relatives, and shows how their social networks are often more class stratified and varied than many social analysts believe.
Harlemworld also challenges popular stereotypes of both poor and well-heeled African Americans, showing how residents of Harlem navigate the class-variegated landscapes of their world through the performance of racial typecasts. For the men and women of Harlem, race is something that's not only inherited, but also enacted. The way Harlemites speak, dress, walk, and even stand depends on which social world they wish to occupy. Jackson, then, argues that race in black America is something that African Americans practice-sometimes inadvertently, but more often than not, intentionally.
Harlem is one of the most famous neighborhoods in the worldand#8212;a historic symbol of both black cultural achievement and of the rigid boundaries separating the rich from the poor. But as this book shows us, Harlem is far more culturally and economically diverse than its caricature suggests: through extensive fieldwork and interviews, John L. Jackson reveals a variety of social networks and class stratifications, and explores how African Americans interpret and perform different class identities in their everyday behavior.
About the Author
John L. Jackson Jr. is an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Doing Harlem, Touring Harlemworld
1 Making Harlem Black: Race, Place, and History in "African Americans' Africa"
2 Class Histories and Class Theories in a Raceful Social World
3 Birthdays, Basketball, and Breaking Bread: Negotiating with Class in Contemporary Black America
4 Class(ed) Acts, or Class Is as Class Does
5 White Harlem: Toward the Performative Limits of Blackness
6 Cinematicus Ethnographicus: Race and Class in an Ethnographic Land of Make-Believe
Conclusion: Undoing Harlemworld
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