Collecting Race: The Archival Impulse in Twentieth-Century Black Literature and Culture


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




“Collecting Race” focuses on how black writers in the Americas during the second half of the twentieth century anticipate the archival turn. Proposing a new theory of the black archive, it shifts attention away from the objects collected for the sake of posterity to the motivations of subjects who accumulate these objects and the affective networks in which they participate. Exposing more radical challenges to archival status than those included in the current counter-archive paradigm, it explores how writers from Ralph Ellison to M. NourbeSe Philip confront the epistemological practices that govern the status of the archive and the position of the racialized subject. Their work on the archive, the project argues, not only speaks up for the silent, but presents new ways of collecting race.