The Amalgamation Waltz

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Tavia Nyong’o, The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

In The Amalgamation Waltz, Tavia Nyong’o provides a fresh take on the seemingly simple but in fact profound questions of ‘who can separate us?’ and ‘who can bring us together?’ This vital work helps to explain our obsession with amalgamation and does a fine job of theorizing the politics and poetics of race as they are performed in American culture from the birth of the nation to the election of Barack Obama.

—Jennifer DeVere Brody, Stanford University

Tavia Nyong’o’s deft and fluid analytical focus shifts with ease from the oratorical texts of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln to hip hop artists Missy Elliott and Public Enemy, from contemporary visual art (the ‘Mining the Museum’ and ‘Legacies’ exhibitions) to the theatre of Suzan-Lori Parks and John Sims’ film ‘Recoloration Proclamation.’ The Amalgamation Waltz is as beautifully written as it is cogent.

—Daphne Brooks, Princeton University

The Amalgamation Waltz performs an important hybridization of critical race and queer theory.

Contemporary Theatre Review

In his stunning new book The Amalgamation Waltz, Nyong’o compels us to confront the problematics of this particular dialectic—namely, the nascent talk of racial transcendence alongside the entrenchment of white supremacy and racialized slavery.

Theatre Journal

Nyong’o’s work is full of . . . insights, which reflect current thinking. The original and provocative element of the book is his critique of the idea of the hybrid person—understood here as a mixed-race offspring of a heterosexual marriage even if perhaps the married state is sometimes absent—as the cure for race relations from the colonial period to the present.

Early American Literature

The Amalgamation Waltz is well argued and engaging. Nyong’o’s impressive scholarship and deft rhetorical circumventions are compelling, and his conclusions will prove valuable to scholars from a wide range of disciplines.

African American Review

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