Spectacles of Decline: A Symposium on the Waning British Empire

Hazel Carby

Charles C and Dorothea S Dilley Professor of African American Studies and American Studies, Emerita, Yale University

Hazel Carby is the author of Imperial Intimacies, A Tale of Two Islands (Verso, 2019) selected as one of the “Books of the Year for 2019,” by the Times Literary Supplement. The winner of the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding (2020), and a finalist for the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize (ASA, 2020) and PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize (2020), Imperial Intimacies is a history of British empire, told through one woman’s search through generations of family stories. It moves between Jamaican plantations, the countryside of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London. It is an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. It charts the British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling.

Carby is also the author of Cultures in Babylon: Black Britain and African America (1999); Race Men (1998); and Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (1987); and a co-author of The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain (1982). In 2019 Carby was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Wesleyan University and the Stuart Hall Outstanding Mentor Award from the Caribbean Philosophical Association. In 2016 she received the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for lifetime achievement in American Literature, awarded by the Modern Language Association.

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