Theory, Culture and Society 16 (2):87-106 (1999)

In this article, I examine racial narratives of passing and their relationship to discourses of hybridity. Rather than defining passing as inherently transgressive, or as one side of identity politics or the other, I suggest that passing must be understood in relationship to forms of social antagonism. I ask the following questions: how are differences that threaten the system recuperated? How do ambiguous or hybrid bodies get read in a way which further supports the enunciative power of those who are telling the difference? In what ways is `passing' implicated in the very discourse around tellable differences? Although to some extent all identities involve passing - insofar as the subject never `is' what it `images' itself to be - we still need to theorize the differences between passing as white and passing as black. I argue that passing as black as a white subject can function as a technique of knowledge which assumes `blackness' to be imageable and hence beable. However, for black subjects to refuse to pass as white - that is, for black subjects to pass as black - can make visible the violent histories concealed by the invisibility of the mark of passing. Such a process of passing as black subjects is tied to a politics of the collective - a coming together through the recognition of the lack that engenders passing in the first place.
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DOI 10.1177/02632769922050566
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Écrits.Jacques Lacan - 1967 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 22 (1):96-97.

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