Hazel V. Carby

Hazel V. Carby is an emeritus professor of African American studies at Yale and the author of Imperial Intimacies, among other books.

Remembering the Future

Hazel V. Carby, 4 April 2024

Aband​ of light, reflected across the waters of Morgan Lake, New Mexico, leads our eyes from the centre foreground to a power plant on the Navajo Reservation: the Four Corners Power Plant, one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the United States. In this photograph by the Diné artist Will Wilson, the plant is entirely in shadow, as dark as the bituminous coal that fuels...

History​ is written by the victors, but diligent and continual silencing is required to maintain its claims on the present and future. It is a mistake to believe that white supremacy is something nurtured and reproduced by extremist organisations and ‘bad apples’ in the armed forces and police. White supremacy is ubiquitous in the US. It operates in the most mundane aspects of daily life; in the economic order that decides who has what and how they get it; in the historical amnesia that makes some stories disappear; in the language we use to speak and name the past. Central here is the uncritical regurgitation of the mythologies of European settlement, the origin stories of the nation that are institutionalised at all levels of local, state and federal history and cultural memory. In Exterminate All the Brutes, Raoul Peck discusses his own refusal to affect the pose of the ‘restrained, moderate, balanced, judicious and neutral’ filmmaker. I too have broken with the conventions of intellectual neutrality in my work.

The Limits of Caste

Hazel V. Carby, 21 January 2021

The racial imaginaries rooted in colonisation are not only historical but geopolitical in character. After the Abolition Act of 1833, the British repurposed slave ships to transport more than a million indentured labourers from India to work on plantations in their colonies around the globe, resulting in the complex entanglements of caste and race in British Guiana, Jamaica and Trinidad. Isabel Wilkerson sees caste as both cause and symptom of a Manichean division between black and white in the early days of North American colonisation, but this division tells us little about the effects of gender and class, and can’t account for indigeneity. If we broaden our understanding to include the history of racial geographies across the Americas, rather than uncritically accepting national boundaries established long after the European invasions, encounters with indigenous inhabitants become central to any attempt at making sense of the classification and division of humanity.

Thecity of Minneapolis, in which George Floyd lived and died, has been plagued not only by Covid-19 but also by an epidemic of police violence. As Mike Griffin, a community organiser, put it, he was ‘just as likely to die from a cop as from Covid’. Major news outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, seemed astonished at the scale of structural and...

The ‘I’ of autobiography and racial belonging is not assumed in Imperial Intimacies. Hazel V. Carby’s shifting perspectives for her present and past selves – her narrative moves from the singular...

Read more reviews

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences