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Incorporations

Race, Nation, and the Body Politics of Capital

2006
Author:

Eva Cherniavsky

Incorporations

An exploration of race, Hollywood, and the commodification of the body

Incorporations offers a new way of thinking about issues of race, bodies, and commodity culture. Moving beyond the study of identity and difference in media, Eva Cherniavsky asserts that race can be understood as a sign of the body's relation to capital. Cherniavsky demonstrates how representations of racial embodiment have evolved, and suggests that “race” is the condition of exchangeable bodies under capital.

A first-rate study that advances discussions of race in materialist and theoretically subtle directions.

Eric Lott, author of Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class

Incorporations offers a new way of thinking about issues of race, bodies, and commodity culture. Moving beyond the study of identity and difference in media, Eva Cherniavsky asserts that race can be understood as a sign of the body’s relation to capital.

In Incorporations, Cherniavsky interrogates the interplay of nationalism, colonialism, and capitalism in the production of racial embodiment. Testing the links between race and capital, Incorporations examines how media culture transmutes white bodies into commodity-images in such films as Blonde Venus, A Touch of Evil, and Fargo, in the television series The Simpsons, and in the fiction of Octavia Butler and Leslie Marmon Silko. Cherniavsky posits an innovative approach to whiteness studies that does not focus on the emancipatory possibilities of cross-racial identification.

Working with the tools of critical race theory as well as postcolonial and cultural studies, Cherniavsky demonstrates how representations of racial embodiment have evolved, and suggests that “race” is the condition of exchangeable bodies under capital.

Incorporations

Eva Cherniavsky is professor of American literature and culture at the University of Washington. She is the author of That Pale Mother Rising: Sentimental Discourses and the Imitation of Motherhood in Nineteenthth-Century America.

Incorporations

A first-rate study that advances discussions of race in materialist and theoretically subtle directions.

Eric Lott, author of Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class

Through rich readings of a range of popular texts and films, Eva Cherniavsky suggests that the raced body has been central to the development of capital's property regime. Her argument reaches its dazzling conclusion in a remarkable discussion of the glow of the white female celebrity body and its critical role in the development of the cinematic apparatus.

Janice Radway, Duke University

In her introduction Cherniasvsky (Univ. of Washington) states that her book emphasizes ‘how race (and the institutions that govern its reproduction) effects embodiment (rather than simply marks the body)—[and] how it regulates the assembly and disassembly of the organic human form in modernity.’ The book is actually less concerned with race than with the cultural effects of postmodern capitalism. Written as a series of ‘sidelines and tangents’ during the author's attempt to complete a different manuscript, this title conglomerates ‘an apparently discontinuous’ set of "ruminations on the intraterritorial dynamics of U.S. colonialism, the contemporary disarticulations of nation and state, the cinematic mediation of whiteness, whiteness studies, and the politics of identification.’ The result will confound most readers, especially since the author indulges in critical jargon and metacommentaries on various theorists. She leaps from topic to topic and from grand pronouncements about late capitalism to brief but dense readings of literary and cinematic texts (film noir, the science fiction of Octavia Butler, Leslie Silko's Almanac of the Dead, Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus, The Simpsons). Cherniavsky achieves some coherence in the last three chapters, which trace the circulation of the ‘commodity-image’ of whiteness under late capitalism. Summing Up: Optional. Researchers and faculty. 

G. Jay, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Choice

Incorporations

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Body Politics of Capital

1. Subaltern Studies in a U.S. Frame
2. After Bourgeois Nationalism
3. Eskimo Television and the Critique of Whiteness (Studies)
4. Hollywood’s Hot Voodoo
5. White Women in the Age of Their Mechanical Reproduction
6. Fast Capitalism and Consumer Ordeals

Notes
Works Cited

Index