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Imperial Intimacies


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About the Author

Hazel V. Carby is a co-author of The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain and author of Cultures in Babylon: Black Britain and African America; Race Men; and Reconstructing Womanhood. For three decades she taught at Yale University as the Charles C. and Dorothea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies and Professor of American Studies.


"Angry and lyrical, uncompromising and vivid, Imperial Intimacies is a daughter's reckoning with the bitter legacies of slavery and colonialism as they come to shape the lives of families and individuals, their dreams and desires. A deeply searching and often moving book, it made me think again about the writing of family history and about what it means to be British." - Alison Light, author of Common People "An elegant memoir which pivots beautifully around those twin imposters, `belonging' and `home'. Richly suffused with a love of people and place, Carby's familiar intellectual rigor never lets us drift off course towards nostalgia." - Caryl Phillips, author of A View of the Empire at Sunset "A heartbreaking and beautiful account of growing-up in the impossible space between mutually exclusive terms-Black and British. The history of empire, slavery and colonialism unfolds in the exquisite and painful details of this unflinching auto-portrait. Carby deftly captures the ways that relations of power are lived, intimately, quietly, destructively, and profoundly. What an achievement." - Saidiya Hartman, author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments "This beautifully written book raises the bar for political life-writing. Hazel Carby invites readers to follow a reconstructive quest propelled by memory, archive and imagination. It is a journey of discovery that forcefully contextualises the injustice dished out by British governments to the `Windrush generation' and their rebel offspring. Carby disrupts fixed notions of racial identity that contort our understanding of Britain's colonial and postcolonial history." - Paul Gilroy, author of Darker Than Blue and The Black Atlantic "Hazel Carby is a foundational scholar of race, class, and empire as critical lenses for understanding culture. In Imperial Intimacies she shares the way that stories-often difficult to mine and face-are at the core of how her indispensable world view was formed. Imperial Intimacies is an epic, generous book that illuminates black Britain as never before and shows us how a great thinker and educator was formed. It is beautifully told, a treasured look into how a girl came to believe that reading and critical thinking could help mend a broken world and give us tools not only for living in it, but for understanding it. I'll treasure this book forever." - Elizabeth Alexander, author of The Light of the World and American Sublime "Hazel Carby assembles a sprawling account of how imperialism--a web of social relations, labor markets, and trade networks-conditions private feeling. The resulting narrative is something like an affective history of the British Empire." - Maya Binyam, New Yorker "Carby's book lies somewhere between what is recorded in official archives, what is remembered in family lore, and what is considered an affective draw to intellectual questions. The spiny precision of the historical...allows the reader to feel erudite, but Carby's most captivating writing is when she feels on the page." - Tiana Reid, Bookforum "Captivating. . . offers interesting perspectives on the personal impact of capitalism and colonialism." - Bernardine Evaristo, TLS Books of the Year, 2019 "Exceptional...By using examples from her own background, she brilliantly demonstrates that 'the personal' is indeed political." - Manuela Latchoumaya, LSE Review of Books "At every turn, Carby refuses to tell a tidy or convenient story and instead produces an account of empire that is as expansive as it is heartbreaking." - Saidiya Hartman, Paris Review "While the minotaur of the British imperial past is very far from dead and buried, Carby's memoir offers a course, a set of clues; it brings us a bit closer to the mouth of the maze." - Phoebe Braithwaite, Dissent "An arresting, courageous, and urgently needed memoir that doubles as social, cultural, and political history." - Gaiutra Bahadur, The Nation "The poignancy in this moving and patient memoir-Carby writes with equal eloquence about work on the Great Western Railway, lichen and the neglected materiality of black British life-centres on her dedication to discovering (to paraphrase James Baldwin) from whence she came." - Paul Mendez, Times Literary Supplement

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