James Baldwin's embodied absence: I Am Not Your Negro and filmic corporeality

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Rascaroli, Laura
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As an essay on North American history and on the rift between lived experience and ideological images that obfuscate it, I Am Not Your Negro relies on a key motif: the body. I argue that I Am Not Your Negroâ s engagement with Baldwinâ s ideas on the question of Black bodies and their effacement from American history, media, and society becomes the kernel of the filmâ s narrative and discursive strategy. As a documentary, I Am Not Your Negro carries out a historical/biographical work of testimony and assemblage, and is a vehicle for Baldwinâ s ideas; as an essay, it suggests a corporeal fullness to Baldwinâ s textual fragments by giving them a filmic voice. Located between reality and imaginary, present and past, substance and image, the essayistic constitutes itself through voiceover as an embodied absence that carries the weight of the argument in its filmic flesh.
The body , I Am Not Your Negro , American history , James Baldwin
Rascaroli, L. (2020) 'James Baldwin's embodied absence: I Am Not Your Negro and filmic corporeality', in Baron, J. and Fuhs, K. (eds.) I Am Not Your Negro: A Docalogue. New York: Routledge, pp. 24-37. doi: 10.4324/9780429058301-3
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