‘We Wear the Mask’: Modern ‘Masks,’ Reflexivity, and Black Practices of Comparing in the Harlem Renaissance

Wilfried Raussert, Bielefeld University:

This article examines practices of comparing by writers and artists from the Harlem Renaissance. Highlighting reflexivity and an awareness of subaltern positioning at the very basis of practices of comparing by black writers and artists in the early 20th century, the article directs the reader’s attention to context, personal, and group positioning as well as emotional conditioning of the comparing actors. The article explores African American and Afro Caribbean masking strategies like the mastery of form to show how the comparata ‘The Old Negro’ and ‘The New Negro’ are negotiated and lead to an understanding of complex entanglements between black cultures, a tertium of blackness beyond colonial histories, and their racial baggage during the Harlem Renaissance.

Download a .pdf of the complete article here.