7 Pages

Why Gilroy?

WithPaul Williams

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers Paul Gilroy's language because understanding his choice of phrasing is a key to unlocking his ideas. It tackles Gilroy's theoretical model of the black Atlantic, which he constructs in opposition to the ethnic absolutism of black and white academics and political ideologues alike. The book reviews civilizationism, a form of ethnic absolutism associated with nineteenth-century European imperialism but given a new lease of life by the twenty-first-century War on Terror. It explores the presence of conviviality in British social life, one of the hopeful signs that ethnic absolutism is not the only possible outcome of living with ethnic difference. The book also considers the iconization of contemporary black performers and sportspeople, namely Gilroy's argument that the subversive potential of black vernacular performance practices has been replaced by the sculpted, iconic black bodies of music videos and advertisements.