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The Politics of Richard WrightPerspectives on Resistance$
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Jane Anna Gordon and Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175164

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175164.001.0001

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Notes toward a Political Economy of Life and Death

Notes toward a Political Economy of Life and Death

Reading Richard Wright with Frantz Fanon

(p.293) 18 Notes toward a Political Economy of Life and Death
The Politics of Richard Wright

Abdul R. JanMohamed

University Press of Kentucky

Building on his previous analysis of the short stories in Wright’s anthology Uncle Tom’s Children, Abdul R. JanMohamed reflects on Wright’s gradual discovery of a close relationship between social death, actual death, and symbolic death. Because “primitive accumulation” refers not only to the material dispossession of the slave’s world but also to the appropriation of subjectivity, questions arise about whether an ex-slave can repossess psycho-political and sociopolitical components of subjectivity in Jim Crow societies that operate predominantly through the inculcation of widespread fear. Against the poststructuralist doxa about the decentered subject and the need to abolish “identity politics,” JanMohamed insists that individual subjects are driven to center themselves and to make their lives as coherent as possible. This is especially true in contexts of colonization, racialization, genderization, and enslavement that rely on disrupting the attempts by oppressed people to control their daily practices.

Keywords:   Richard Wright, social death, symbolic death, primitive accumulation, subjective dispossession, poststructuralist doxa, identity politics, colonization, enslavement

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