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In the Wake


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Table of Contents

1. The Wake 1

2. The Ship 25

3. The Hold 68

4. The Weather 102

Notes 135

References 153

Index 163

About the Author

Christina Sharpe is Associate Professor of English at Tufts University and the author of Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects, also published by Duke University Press.


"This could have been a one thousand page book, filled with 'evidence,' citations and systematic 'proof,' but instead it is an earned, slim volume of poetic, intellectual and, in fact, spiritual enactment of struggle. In this way, In The Wake is an effective, personal conversation with the reader that uses both fact, image, and emotion, legitimately, to illuminate argument." -- Sarah Schulman * Lambda Literary Review *
"With In the Wake, Christina Sharpe looks out from the text and really tries to see us, both those here and gone, living and dead, in the wake, for all we are. We might begin, anew, by carefully looking back-double emphasis on care."
-- John Murillo III * Make *
"In the Wake is a necessary chapter in a lengthy tome of ending white supremacy." -- Jonathan Russell Clark * Literary Hub *
"Mourning can be and has been a politics, but it must avoid becoming only a litany of horrors. Refusing melancholy in favor of care, In the Wake understands mourning as a practice embedded in living, and vice versa. Sharpe's beautiful book enacts this indistinctness through pulling language apart and putting it to new purposes." -- Hannah Black * 4Columns *
(Best Books of 2016) "The book that will live on in me from this year is Christina Sharpe's In the Wake, on living in the wake of the catastrophic violence of legal chattel slavery. In the Wake speaks in so many multiple ways (poetry, memory, theory, images) and does so in language that is never still. It is, in part, about keeping watch, not unseeing the violence that has become normative, being in the hold, holding on and still living." -- Madeleine Thien * The Guardian *
"In the Wake is work that holds space for what is unbearable and insists on letting it remain unbearable."
-- Johanna Hedva * Mask Magazine *
"[A] masterclass on form, and a must-read for those of us committed to the beautiful sentence, as well as the work of what is commonly called theory." -- Joshua Bennett * Poets & Writers *
"Christina Sharpe [is] one of the boldest and most brilliant academics of our time. . . . In the Wake is one of those rare academic books at once rigorously argued and multiply engaging: intellectually, stylistically, emotionally." -- David Chariandy * Transition *
"The present is saturated with grief about black lives in the wake of violence, being awake to the deaths and erasures can potentially create a future that can expand on being in the wake for more liveable lives of the black diaspora. It can also be the site of wake work, of attempts at creating social justice out of the metaphor Sharpe gives us.... Sharpe's work has come at the right time." -- Angelina Eimannsberger * Indulgence *
"In Sharpe's probing work, the specter of slavery continues to haunt black subjects long after its abolition.... Sharpe's book ... creates fruitful lines of exploration for political theorists concerned about the ethos of citizenship necessary for confronting white supremacy." -- Alex Zamalin * Political Theory *
"[A]t once meditative and theoretical, stylistically meticulous and spacious, intensely personal and a work of assembly." -- Matt Hooley * Antipode *
"My most valuable discovery [in 2018] was the work of Christina Sharpe, a scholar of breathtaking range whose most recent book is In the Wake, about the aftershocks of chattel slavery in the Americas." -- Parul Sehgal * New York Times *
"Sharpe traces every wound back to every knife back to every bladesmith. I've been both protector and prey, both war and prayer: In the Wake helps answer each clash, it draws a thread through the multitudes of our grief. How Black life pays for its offering and for its pain and for its gift. . . . This book here is a guide, a deeply personal and intellectual exploration of Blackness, it gives us a complete look at how our beginning shapes our end." -- Mustafa * CBC Books *

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