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Nordic Utopia: African Americans in the Twentieth Century

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Edited by Leslie Anne Anderson and Ethelene Whitmire with contributions by Temi Odumosu and Ryan Thomas Skinner.

During the twentieth century, Black Americans visited and lived in Nordic countries, performing, studying, working, and seeking adventure, love, freedom to explore sexuality, and distance from Jim Crow segregation. Drawing from film, photographs, paintings, music, textiles, and dance, Nordic Utopia captures these journeys and ultimately reflects on how some African Americans have called and continue to call Nordic countries home.Calling on voices from hip-hop artist Jason Diakité to novelist and essayist James Baldwin, this book tells how African Americans were transformed through their Nordic encounters. The authors examine how “hip-hop ethics” illuminate the dynamic meaning of material culture in contemporary Afro-Nordic lifeworlds. Documented experiences by migrant and visiting artists probe the peculiarity of being a Black person in a remote “white” place while also using these experiences to reflect on and critique American racism. The book considers what specific Nordic artifacts and materials reveal about the complexities of place-making for Black people in a region where notions of innocence, isolation, and distance from the issues of the wider world also abound.

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