Hazel Carby, Professor of African American Studies at Yale, joins Bluecoat to discuss her latest book Imperial Intimacies, a haunting and evocative history of the British empire, told through her family’s story.
Where are you from?” was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post–World War II London. One of the so-called “brown babies” of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh mother, Carby’s place in her home, her neighbourhood, and her country of birth was always in doubt.
Emerging from this setting, Carby untangles the threads connecting members of her family to each other in a web woven by the British Empire across the Atlantic.
From her working-class seamstress grandmother Beatrice challenged by poverty and disease; we follow both the “white Carbys” and the “black Carbys”; the hidden stories of Bridget and Nancy who survived Middle Passage from Africa to the Caribbean.
Moving between the Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands.
In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.
Hazel will be in conversation with political activist Laurence Westgaph.