Mirage: A Reading List

Melanie Coles and Andree Latham

29 Oct 2015
To coincide with our symposium Mirage, 20 Years On, the ICA Bookshop has put together this engaging reading list.



To coincide with our Symposium: Mirage, 20 Years On, the ICA Bookshop's Melanie Coles and Andree Latham have put together this reading list, with titles exploring topics including the legacies of colonialism and the politics of race today.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the exhibition and events programme Mirage: Enigmas Of Race, Difference & Desire at the ICA, the symposium asks: if the 1995 project marked a moment of considering the importance of Frantz Fanon and ways in which his writings on post-colonialism, identity, cinema and psychoanalysis intertwined with artistic practices and race, then what should the contemporary moment reflect upon? Where are we now in relation to structural violence, de-colonising culture and relations, and the power of aesthetics and its explorations of complex formations of racial identities?

Black Skin, White Masks
Frantz Fanon
This seminal text of black liberationist discourse presents Frantz Fanon’s views on the pathology of Western culture, exposing the psychic trauma of colonialism, and the feelings of dependence and inadequacy experienced by people of colour. First published in 1968, this text remains a classic piece of writing on the struggle for political and cultural liberation.

Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman
Michele Wallace
Michele Wallace’s take on the masculine biases within black politics came out to a controversial reaction in 1978. In 2015, this text remains as relevant and as charged, addressing how authentic female subjectivity has been repressed by traditional notions of black womanhood. This edition comes with a foreword debate, including various intellectuals and politicians, examining what has and has not changed since its original release.

Sister Outsider
Audre Lorde
Sister Outsider is a collection of fifteen essays and speeches from poet and writer Audre Lorde addressing sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia and class. As she addresses social struggles from her influential and unique perspective, Lorde’s prose is hopeful and reflective. Lorde calls out to “never close our eyes to the terror, to the chaos which is Black which is creative which is female which is dark which is rejected which is messy which is. . . .” This commemorative edition features a foreword by Lorde scholar and poet Cheryl Clarke highlighting the influence, impact and continued relevance of Lorde’s work in contemporary society.

Dark Matters
Simone Browne
The surveillance of blackness is the key issue addressed by Browne in Dark Matters. She illustrates how contemporary surveillance technologies have developed alongside a long history of policing black life, from branding to runaway slave notices to Latern Laws. Browne draws from black feminist theory, sociology and cultural studies to discuss black surveillance with reference to contemporary art, literature, biometrics and post-9/11 airport security practices. Surveillance, Browne asserts, is both a discursive and material practice that reifies boundaries, borders and bodies along racial lines, to the extent that the surveillance of blackness has become a social and political norm.

Black British Feminism: A Reader
Heidi Safia Mirza
Black British Feminism: A Reader is an overview of black feminism including classic seminal texts as well as new essays. This volume covers issues from white feminism, to mixed-race identity, black beauty, religious fundamentalism, cultural hybridity, popular culture and more. This book acts as a good introduction to students and those interested in a wide overview of discourses of black feminist theory from the past two decades.

The Location of Culture
Homi K.Bhabha
In what J.M. Coetzee describes as ‘lightening raids’ into established cultural history, Homi Bhabha writes challenging and, at times, controversial stories of hybridisation, globalisation and postcolonial diasporas. A scholar of literature and contemporary visual culture, in this text he draws on the work of Joseph Conrad, Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie, among others, to explore issues of ambivalence and transgression in cultural production. Invoking key concepts of mimicry and social liminality, Bhabha is a champion of theory as an agent in practical political change. This edition has been updated with a new preface by the author.

Black British Artists In British Art: A History Since the 1950s
Eddie Chambers
Black British Artists tells the stories of black artists such as Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili, Yinka Shonibare who have banded together to create their own exhibition and gallery spaces within Britain. With a marked place in British Art History, the artists have faced different perceptions and responses throughout the decades. This book highlights the notable contributions, legacy and contemporary role of black artists in Britain.

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me is a profound and beautifully written examination of America's turbulent racial history. The book is author Ta-Nehisi Coates’s efforts to answer the difficult questions put to him by his adolescent son. Recounting his own journey from Howard University to the horrors of the Civil War, Coates’ intimate work sharply reveals the present by shedding light on a damaged past.

There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation
Paul Gilroy
Examining issues of race, class and nation, Gilroy’s book confronts discriminatory attitudes that go beyond the left-right political divide, forming a bold and fascinating critique of anti-racism campaigns. Gilroy’s classic examination of contemporary attitudes to racism remains as potently relevant now as when it was first published in 1987. ■

All titles are available online or in our bookshop on The Mall.

Mirage, featuring a symposium and a panel discussion and screening, runs 30-31 October.