FrottageFrictions of Intimacy across the Black Diaspora

FrottageFrictions of Intimacy across the Black Diaspora

Keguro Macharia

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9781479881147

Publisher: NYU Press


“Frottage” elaborates a conceptual framework for the book. It describes how black diasporic geohistories reframe queer studies and how queer studies, in turn, reframe black diaspora studies. I identify three key terms in black diaspora studies: kinship, hybridity, and thinghood. Dominant approaches in black diaspora studies have framed the black diaspora as a search for kinship, whether biological or fictive, creating what I describe as a genealogical imperative for black diasporic intellectual and cultural production. Attempting to redress this genealogical imperative, and the racial and ethnic policing it produces, scholars including Stuart Hall, Hazel Carby, and Paul Gilroy advanced the concept of hybridity, arguing that the cultural promiscuities produced through immigration and urbanization offered a way to imagine blackness as strategic and coalitional, rather than biological and ethnic. As the concept of hybridity moved from its black British context to the United States, it was appropriated by a genealogical imperative that privileged biological mixing as a “solution” to the problem of ethno-racial antagonisms. Thus, “hybridity” became a hetero-reproductive structure. I break from this genealogical imperative by arguing that “thinghood,” as theorized by Hortense Spillers and Fred Moten, provides an alternative paradigm for theorizing black being. I argue that “thinghood” is the central challenge that black diaspora studies poses for queer studies. The chapter introduces the four key figures in the book: Frantz Fanon, René Maran, Jomo Kenyatta, and Claude McKay.