|The English Speaking World
(Photo credit: Charles Jeffrey Danoff)
What does “Race” mean to other people in other lands? Race in Translation: Culture Wars around the Postcolonial Atlantic by Robert Stam and Ella Shohat, take on an exploration of the concept abroad.
While the term “culture wars” often designates the heated arguments in the English-speaking world spiralling around race, the canon, and affirmative action, in fact these discussions have raged in multiple sites and languages.
Charting the multidirectional traffic of the debates, Stam/Shohat trace their literal and figurative translation, seen in French Postcolonial Studies and Brazilian Whiteness Studies, and in such cultural phenomena as Tropicalia and Hip-Hop. The authors also interrogate an ironic convergence whereby rightist politicians join hands with leftist intellectuals, along with the Neo-Cons and Nouveaux Philosophes, in condemning the “spectre” of multiculturalism and identity politics.
At once a report from various “fronts,” a mapping of the germane literatures, and an argument about cross-border comparison and interlocution, the book constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of the diasporic and transnational movement of ideas.