- Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
- Published: March 19, 2017
Challenging the conception of empowerment associated with the Black Power Movement and the continuing resonance of that conception in the Movement’s political and intellectual legacies in the present, Extravagant Abjection contends that power can be found not only in transcendence of trauma or instances of martial resistance, but, surprisingly, where the black body has been inflicted with harm or humiliation. Theorizing the relation between blackness and abjection by foregrounding often neglected depictions of the sexual exploitation and humiliation of men in works by James Weldon Johnson, Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, and Samuel R. Delany, I ask: If we’re racialized in part through domination and abjection, what is the political, personal, and psychological potential in racialization-through-abjection? For the inheritor of blackness who confronts it as an historical artifact marking the defeat of his ancestors and defining the obstacles to his present possibilities, can blackness-as-abjection be understood or experienced as a resource for the political present which broadens and even enriches the expanse of what is human being, rather than setting the limit for experience defined as human or marking its terror-bound underside? I argue that blackness in relation to abjection endows its inheritors with a form of counter-intuitive, and at times paradoxical power—indeed, what can be thought of as a revised notion of black power. This power is found at the point at which ego, identity, body, race, and nation seem to reveal themselves as utterly penetrated and compromised, without defensible boundary.
“Darieck Scott deftly paves the way for new understandings of the history and culture of black power and violence. His work is theoretically exciting and sophisticated, offering invaluable lessons: that the violent pressure of black history— the pressure of its terrible subordination— can be relieved, often in unexpected ways. Scott helps us see, even in the most humiliating and violent of scenes, an entire horizon of other, sometimes pleasurable, possibilities of resistance.”
–Michael Cobb, author of God Hates Fags
“A powerful theoretical statement in the emerging field of black queer studies, Extravagant Abjection makes the bold claim that it is necessary to work through and not simply to ‘white wash’ the political, social, ideological and psychological consequences of what Darieck Scott names ‘black abjection.’ Building upon the insights of the more articulate practitioners of bondage and submission, sadism and masochism, Scott’s readings of key texts in twentieth-century black American literature are at once sophisticated, provocative, creative, and indeed titillating. This book will surely become a ‘dark’ classic.”
–Robert Reid-Pharr, author of Arc