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Description - Harlemworld by John Jackson

Harlem is the historical centre of black culture and one of the most famous neighbourhoods in the world. Just the mention of its name brings to mind images of Langston Hughes, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and W.E.B. Du Bois. As a contemporary black enclave in northern Manhattan, it is also a common symbolic marker for the hard and fast boundaries separating the rich from the poor in our cities. Harlem is thought of as the quintessential black slum. But, as John L. Jackson, Jr. points out in this new book, Harlem is far more culturally and economically diverse than its caricature suggests. Many experts believe that black America consists of two geographically distinct populations: a neglected underclass living in hopeless urban poverty, and a more successful suburban middle class of college graduates and thriving professionals. Through extensive fieldwork and interviews with denizens of Harlem, Jackson explodes these presumptions. "Harlemworld" probes the everyday interactions of African Americans with their black coworkers, acquaintances, friends, neighbours and relatives. Jackson shows how their social networks are often more class stratified and varied than many social analysts believe. He proves that a socially and geographically bifurcated class model no longer works as the only guide to understanding black America. Ultimately, "Harlemworld" demonstrates how African Americans embody and interpret different class identities through their own behaviours and their assessments of each other. For the men and women of Harlem, racial identities are not simply inhabited, but enacted. At any given time, the way Harlemites speak, dress, walk or even stand can be linked to particular class positions within a hierarchy of socioeconomic possibilities. In Harlem, intraracial differences, be they embodied through dialect or fashion, striding gaits or slouching postures, are largely defined in folk theories that link social identities to everyday activities. Jackson argues that race in black America is something that African Americans practice - sometimes purposefully, sometimes inadvertently - as they navigate the class-variegated landscapes of their worlds.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780226389981
ISBN-10: 0226389987
Format: Hardback
(235mm x 160mm x mm)
Pages: 290
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 5-Dec-2001
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - John Jackson

John L. Jackson Jr. is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Society of Fellows.