Shade Matters

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Tuesday 13 October 2015, 6.30pm

Speaker: Dr Henrice Altink, Department of History and Dr Shirley Tate, University of Leeds

Black History Month Lecture

This lecture will consist of two talks, followed by a Q&A session.

Speaker: Dr Henrice Altink, Reader in Modern History, Department of History

Learning and unlearning race in colonial and independent Jamaica

In the decades preceding and following independence, African-Jamaican children learned through a variety of overt and covert, verbal and non-verbal practices the complex meaning of race and skin colour in their society. Yet once they had understood the importance of race and colour, they were then told not to talk about race and colour. This unwritten rule remained in place even long after independence, when for instance politicians who dared to raise the ‘colour question’ were severely reprimanded. Based largely on anthropological studies, memoirs and contemporary fiction, the paper explores this uneasy coexistence of colour consciousness and colour blindness.

Speaker: Dr Shirley Anne Tate, Associate Professor in Race and Culture, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

Lightness, skin bleaching and modern Blackness in Jamaica

Skin bleaching is practiced in the UK/US but it seems to be only the elsewhere of Jamaica that it has been so publically problematized. Skin shade matters much as it did during exploration, colonization and enslavement across the Black diaspora (Hall, 2012; Williams, 1998) as shown through skin bleaching in Jamaica. The examples drawn on are the TVJ documentary on skin bleaching in Jamaica; and the Jamaican dancehall artists Vbyz Kartel and Lisa Hyper speaking on skin bleaching on youtube. What is the political work being done by skin bleaching in this site that means that it must be branded as anti-Black spectacle in order to undermine its decolonization of skin colour hierarchies? This paper discusses how in the very act of skin bleaching the Black body becomes the alter/native-body of normative beauty politics based on the white or light-skinned ideal as well as revealing the continuing colourism of Jamaica and the Black Atlantic space. Here, the lightened body refuses the white or light ideal in favour of the in-between space of ‘browning’, a modern Black Jamaican aesthetic ideal.

Location: Room P/L001, Physics

Admission is by free ticket only. Please book online.

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