Subjecting Pleasure: Claude McKay’s Narratives of Transracial Desire

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2013-11-01 00:54Z by Steven

Subjecting Pleasure: Claude McKay’s Narratives of Transracial Desire

Journal of Black Studies
Volume 44, Number 7 (October 2013)
pages 706-724
DOI: 10.1177/0021934713507579

Smita Das, 2012-2013 Dissertation Fellow
University of Illinois, Chicago

This article explores the threat posed by the Afro-Asian body in Claude McKay’s novels, Banjo (1929) and Banana Bottom (1933). Banjo’s narrative of transracial alliances converges onto the body of the Afro-Asian prostitute, whose positioning as a “conjunction” exposes contradictions surrounding immigration within French liberalism. Banana Bottom also maps a conflictual relationship between a licentious Afro-Asian coolie woman, and a Black subject who both wrestle with attaining national belonging within an idyllic Jamaica. While Banjo reveals McKay’s yearnings for transnational Black affiliations without the Afro-Asian woman, Banana Bottom reconciles the wrought relations between Black middle-class Jamaicans and the bastardized “coolie gal.”

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