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The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness
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The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  883 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Afrocentrism. Eurocentrism. Caribbean Studies. British Studies. To the forces of cultural nationalism hunkered down in their camps, this bold hook sounds a liberating call. There is, Paul Gilroy tells us, a culture that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but all of these at once, a black Atlantic culture whose themes and techniques transcend ethn ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published 1995 by Harvard University Press (first published June 1993)
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Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
This is one of those books you wish you could have read when it first came out. I know Gilroy's been done to death, and the term "black Atlantic" doesn't have quite as much academic suction as it used to, but the transnationalism espoused by this book is a must read for anyone involved in the study of humanities (not to mention its retheorizing). What I most enjoyed were Gilroy's reclamation of forgotten corners of scholarship. His views on Richard Wright's European labors were especially refres ...more
Ralowe Ampu
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i went to a dark place reading this. it always happens when i enter this strain of thought. it is helpful to think of this book as being in conversation with fred moten's *in the break* and saidiya hartman's *scenes of subjection.* thinking back, my impression is that moten is less pessimistic about the situation caused by the commodity than paul gilroy when thinking here about richard wright. at this moment i still kind of feel that frank wilderson takes gilroy's precedent too far, and i don't ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Read this for my undergraduate History thesis. His discussion of authenticity as measured as the distance from codes of minstrrelsy was particularly salient to my discussion of Paul Robeson as a performer.
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Right now no book is influencing my thinking and scholarship as much as this one.

A must-read for people interested in African-American Studies, Caribbean Studies, studies of popular music, Transnational Americas, the African Diaspora, post-colonial studies or anything like that.
Zachary Bennett
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This is about as an enlightening book as it is confusing. This is a paradigm shifting book in the field of Af-Am studies, and is very Foucaultian in its free-form incorporation of philosophy, history, and popular culture. A way to think about the Black Atlantic without using nationality or race. It complicates Dubois' double consciousness. Idea of the nation within the nation is not tenable. Gilroy doesn't want to get rid of "blackness" entirely however, as he locates the unifying factor of the ...more
Mar 08, 2017 added it
This was an incredible book. Always a fan of literature like this.
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
While the overall concept of "the black Atlantic" was quite innovative and helpful to approaching issues of transnational culture, this book was difficult to get through due to dense language and its rich diversity of cultural resources: popular music, black intellectuals' biographies, literature, etc. The basic concept takes issue with racial constructions of culture defined by national boundaries. As the 17th and 18th centuries' slave trade broke down national borders for Africans who were tra ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
Employing literary techniques to critique the nationalist and ethnic focus of cultural studies, Gilroy analyzes a range of texts, authors, and artists as seemingly discordant as W.E.B. Du Bois and Jimi Hendrix, Richard Wright and 2 Live Crew, revealing not only the significant black intellectual history and role of black slavery and oppression that have fueled modernity despite being largely absent from the academic record, but also the inescapable hybridity, instability, and continual change of ...more
Cara Byrne
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"How do black expressive cultures practice remembrance? How is their remembering socially organised? How is this active remembrance associated with a distinctive and disjunctive temporality of the subordinated? How are this temporality and historicity constructed and marked out publicly?" (212). These are just a sampling of the incredibly insightful questions Gilroy raises in his dense, thoughtful, and critical work. As this work has shaped the last 20 years of critical race theory, it's an impo ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Gilroy is seen by some as the guy who reminded Cultural Studies that race is essential to consider when analyzing culture. His argument is that Black culture is an inherently diasporic beast, and his book underlines the ways in which seemingly nationalistic developments were always already influenced by transatlantic cultural flows. He emphasizes how Black culture also borrows from but never entirely adopts Western culture, making it a kind of countercultural movement, and works to demonstrate h ...more
Dec 17, 2015 marked it as to-keep-ref
El colonizador produce al colonizado como negación, pero, mediante un giro dialéctico, esa identidad colonizada negativa es negada a su vez, para fundar el Yo colonizador positivo. El pensamiento europeo moderno y el Yo moderno están ambos unidos necesariamente a lo que Paul Gilroy llamó “la interrelación entre el terror racial y la subordinación”. 26 Los dorados monumentos de las ciudades europeas y también del pensamiento europeo moderno están fundados sobre la íntima lucha dialéctica con sus ...more
Andee Nero
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is a great book with an important message concerning the writing of cultural history, but I gave it 4 stars because I have a problem with books that advocate large-scale change but are unnecessarily written in a way that makes it inaccessible to a large audience. The concepts Gilroy discusses, such as the double-identity of black Europeans, slavery as a reminder that history does not equal progress and the modern black identity that arose in the Atlantic outside of national/ethnic bounds, d ...more
Irene Wang
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Afrocentrism. Eurocentrism. Caribbean Studies. British Studies. To the forces of cultural nationalism hunkered down in their camps, this bold hook sounds a liberating call. There is, Paul Gilroy tells us, a culture that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but all of these at once, a black Atlantic culture whose themes and techniques transcend ethnicity and nationality to produce something new and, until now, unremarked. Challenging the practices and assumptions of cultu ...more
Justin Evans
Surely the worst book ever written about a great idea. The chapter on Wright was pretty good, the chapter on Dubois and 'Hegel' possibly the worst I've ever read, mainly because Gilroy seems to have followed the Althusser approach to analysis of philosophical argument, that is, not reading the book (Hegel's Phenomenology) he's talking about. Vastly influential, unreadable and unconvincing- but that central idea was a great one.
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
good book, whose central thesis needs to be expanded to truly be a great book. Gilroy said it was heuristic in nature and a setting of the stage for future theoretical developments. These will have to include a holistic approach of the black atlanic that does not just talk about the USA, and the anglophone caribbean but includes the black histories and narrartives of the hispanophone carribbean, brazil, and the rest of south america.
(Gilroy is illuminary in his treatment of black music)
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: theory, race
The relation of intersecting global African Diaspora communities to 'double consciousness' seemed to get lost in his discourse of Black cultures. I've decided, however to read all of Richard Wright.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: africanamerican
This is an important and nuanced book. Unfortunately, I also found it entirely unreadable -- and I have read a lot of theory. It's definitely on the opaque end of the spectrum, to the point where I could barely follow the author's argument. I wish it was written with more clarity and less jargon.
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fantastic analytical work on the African diaspora by an English scholar, Paul Gilroy. Highly intense, requiring a bit more than a basic understanding of the African slave trade. Not a book for the casual reader, but for those looking at understanding modern racial relations need search no longer.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
brilliant. this book changed the way i understand racism, modernity, hybridity and diaspora. a great reworking of the heavies: w.e.b. dubois and richard wright. gilroy makes connections and opens avenues of inquiry that are exhilirating.
Sep 24, 2010 added it
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
The influence of this book well precedes it, yet the intro (in particular) remains fresh and challenging to comfortable assumptions that continue to persist.
May 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Talk about diaspora...!
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A must-have.
The cornerstone of recent post-colonial studies, opening the way to such books as the "Many Headed Hydra" from Linebaugh & Rediker.
U. Teresa
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great but dense! I read it for class, so my copy has lots of marginalia! It is a must read for critical race theory and the like.
Oct 03, 2013 rated it liked it
See my review of There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack. Paul Gilroy is just brilliant.
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it
The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness by Paul Gilroy (1993)
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is the most intellectual thing I have ever read and I am so glad it's over.
Grace Heneks
Oct 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Nope. Not at this point in the semester.
Sep 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic
canonical. meandering. frustrating.

i know i'll revisit this later.
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book opens up my mind about the Atlantic diaspora and the slavery in general, and the culture resulting from both situation. Very interesting!
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