X Marks the Spot: The Ambiguities of African Trading in the Commerce of the Black Public Sphere
7 Public Culture: Society for Transnational Studies 249-274 (co-authored with Paul Stoller).
Reprinted in The Public Sphere Collective, eds. The Black Public Sphere (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995) 253-278.
26 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2014
Date Written: 1994
Global capital restructuring has led to new forms of social and spatial rearrangements. These rearrangements have seen capital accumulation underpinned by finance and the globalization of manufacturing. As a result, informal economies have emerged in the peripheral shadows of the formal, elite information-based economy. A confrontation of commodified images and commercial practices along fault lines of state and corporate power will be explored on the sidewalks at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue in New York City. As a cultural crossroads in an African American commercial marketplace, this place situates many of the ironies and ambiguities that currently animate the black public sphere in the United States. We seek to illuminate a number of relationships between processes of capital restructuring, African migrations, informal economies, African American cultural forms, and those signifiers which simultaneously mask and reveal the politics appropriate to postcolonial contexts.
Keywords: Informal economy, Culture, Postcolonial
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