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Talk with Caroline H. Yang, Associate Professor at the Department of English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Talk title: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Chinese Question in the Afterlife of Slavery 

Description: This talk explores connections between representations of the Chinese worker in US literature after emancipation and the history of blackface minstrelsy in the United States. By showing that representations of the Chinese reveal the persistence of antiblackness in and through the minstrel form, the talk underscores the inseparable link between formal minstrel representations of race and the structure of white supremacy in slavery and its long afterlife. 

Bio: Caroline Yang is an associate professor in English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of The Peculiar Afterlife of Slavery: The Chinese Worker and the Minstrel Form

The concept of linked fate, as political scientist Evelyn M. Simien defines, is “an acute sense of awareness (or recognition) that what happens to the group will also affect the individual.” Although this concept originates in examining the political choices of African Americans, this series expands the concept based upon what we have witnessed so far in 2020. From the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on minority communities to the new momentum of BLM, we recognize that the fate of AAPI communities is linked to other BIPOC communities. Through a series of speakers and discussions, Penn’s Asian American Studies program will reflect upon our contemporary moment by examining earlier moments of multiracial solidarity and organizing to consider what avenues AAPI individuals might pursue today and in the future.