In this talk, I explore labor narratives and imaginaries of black masculinity in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. In doing so I show how racialized imaginaries of the ideal man shifted in response to changing capitalist regimes, examining colonialism to the period known as la crise [the crisis] as a narrative arc. Complemented by an analysis of black masculinity vis-à-vis capitalist processes of production, consumption and commodification, I draw on fieldwork I conducted from 2008 to 2009 on the livelihoods and lifestyles of underemployed Abidjanais men to illuminate the sustained power of imaginaries even while capitalism affords a deficit of real opportunities.
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About the Speaker
Jordanna Matlon is an urban sociologist who studies racial capitalism and the articulation of Black masculinity in Africa and the African diaspora. She is generally interested in the ways “Blackness” operates as a signifier, and as it intersects with gender norms, manifests in popular culture, and illuminates our understanding of political economy. Her book, A Man among Other Men: The Long Crisis of Black Masculinity in Racial Capitalism, is forthcoming with Cornell University Press.