[Blackstudies-l] The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture Now Available from UGA Press

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Wed Oct 2 11:50:05 EDT 2019


The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture
Grégory Pierrot

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May 2019 | 274 pages

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With the Ta-Nehisi Coates-authored Black Panther comic book series (2016);
recent films Django Unchained (2012) and The Birth of a Nation (2016); Nate
Parker's cinematic imagining of the Nat Turner rebellion; and screen
adaptations of Marvel's Luke Cage (2016) and Black Panther (2018); violent
black redeemers have rarely been so present in mainstream Western
culture. *Grégory
Pierrot * argues, however, that the black avenger has always been with us:
the trope has fired the news and imaginations of the United States and the
larger Atlantic World for three centuries.

The black avenger channeled fresh anxieties about slave uprisings and
racial belonging occasioned by European colonization in the Americas. Even
as he is portrayed as a heathen and a barbarian, his values-honor, loyalty,
love-reflect his ties to the West. Yet being racially different, he cannot
belong, and his qualities in turn make him an anomaly among black people.
The black avenger is thus a liminal figure defining racial borders. Where
his body lies, lies the color line. Regularly throughout the modern era and
to this day, variations on the trope have contributed to defining race in
the Atlantic World and thwarting the constitution of a black polity.

Pierrot's *The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture
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* studies this cultural history, examining a multicultural and
cross-historical network of print material including fiction, drama,
poetry, news, and historical writing as well as visual culture. It tracks
the black avenger trope from its inception in the seventeenth century to
the U.S. occupation of Haiti in 1915. Pierrot argues that this Western
archetype plays an essential role in helping exclusive, hostile
understandings of racial belonging become normalized in the collective
consciousness of Atlantic nations. His study follows important
articulations of the figure and how it has shifted based on historical and
cultural contexts.
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