`She'll Wake Up One of These Days and Find She's Turned into a Nigger' Passing through Hybridity

Ahmed, Sara. 1999. `She'll Wake Up One of These Days and Find She's Turned into a Nigger' Passing through Hybridity. Theory, Culture and Society, 16(2), pp. 87-106. ISSN 0263-2764 [Article]

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In this article, I examine racial narratives of passing and their relationship to discourses of hybridity. Rather than defining passing as inherently transgressive, or as one side of identity politics or the other, I suggest that passing must be understood in relationship to forms of social antagonism. I ask the following questions: how are differences that threaten the system recuperated? How do ambiguous or hybrid bodies get read in a way which further supports the enunciative power of those who are telling the difference? In what ways is `passing' implicated in the very discourse around tellable differences? Although to some extent all identities involve passing - insofar as the subject never `is' what it `images' itself to be - we still need to theorize the differences between passing as white and passing as black. I argue that passing as black as a white subject can function as a technique of knowledge which assumes `blackness' to be imageable and hence beable. However, for black subjects to refuse to pass as white - that is, for black subjects to pass as black - can make visible the violent histories concealed by the invisibility of the mark of passing. Such a process of passing as black subjects is tied to a politics of the collective - a coming together through the recognition of the lack that engenders passing in the first place.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

06 Oct 2015 11:15

Last Modified:

22 Apr 2016 16:39

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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