A Mouth Is Always Muzzled: Six Dissidents, Five Continents, and the Art of Resistance

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Description

Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award

"A deeply felt and passionately expressed manifesto."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred)

A meditation in the spirit of John Berger and bell hooks on art as protest, contemplation, and beauty in politically perilous times

As people consider how to respond to a resurgence of racist, xenophobic populism, A Mouth Is Always Muzzled tells an extraordinary story of the ways art brings hope in perilous times. Weaving disparate topics from sugar and British colonialism to attacks on free speech and Facebook activism and traveling a jagged path across the Americas, Africa, India, and Europe, Natalie Hopkinson, former culture writer for the Washington Post and The Root, argues that art is where the future is negotiated.

Part post-colonial manifesto, part history of British Caribbean, part exploration of art in the modern world, A Mouth Is Always Muzzled is a dazzling analysis of the insistent role of art in contemporary politics and life. In crafted, well-honed prose, Hopkinson knits narratives of culture warriors: painter Bernadette Persaud, poet Ruel Johnson, historian Walter Rodney, novelist John Berger, and provocative African American artist Kara Walker, whose homage to the sugar trade Sugar Sphinx electrified American audiences. A Mouth Is Always Muzzled is a moving meditation documenting the artistic legacy generated in response to white supremacy, brutality, domination, and oppression. In the tradition of Paul Gilroy, it is a cri de coeur for the significance of politically bold--even dangerous--art to all people and nations.

Product Details

Price
$23.95  $22.03
Publisher
New Press
Publish Date
February 06, 2018
Pages
208
Dimensions
5.7 X 0.8 X 8.2 inches | 0.75 pounds
Language
English
Type
Hardcover
EAN/UPC
9781620971246
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

A former staff writer, editor, and culture critic at the Washington Post and The Root, Natalie Hopkinson is an assistant professor in Howard University's graduate program in communication, culture and media studies and a fellow at the Interactivity Foundation. The author of two critically acclaimed books, Go-Go Live and Deconstructing Tyrone (with Natalie Y. Moore), Hopkinson lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews

Praise for A Mouth Is Always Muzzled
Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award

"[An] illuminating narrative."
--Booklist

"A smart analysis of art and politics."
--Publishers Weekly

"This is a singular book, one that is not conventionally academic nor a conventional travel narrative nor a conventional work of arts criticism nor even a conventional piece of journalistic reportage, yet it draws from all of those disciplines as a deeply felt and passionately expressed manifesto. . . . Not merely a book about Guyana, but an impressively rendered story about imperialism in general and cultural imperialism in particular."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"A strikingly detailed portrait of a country seeking to define itself...Her writing seems designed to provoke thought and inquiry as much as it is to inform."
--NPR

"In Guyana, artists in the resistance movement are the keepers of the culture, the music, paintings, and poetry that can be a powerful source of healing from the generational trauma inflicted by slavery and racism. The same is true in this country. Or at least it should be."
--Courtland Milloy, Washington Post columnist

"A Mouth Is Always Muzzled brings the art and politics of little-known Guyana into contemporary view. Natalie Hopkinson is breaking down national and artistic barriers. From John Berger to Kara Walker, Bernadette Persaud to Ruel Johnson and Walter Rodney, the aesthetic and resistant goals are familiar to all of us, even when the cultural context is not."
--Lucy R. Lippard, author of Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America

"Powered by masterful writing and storytelling, A Mouth Is Always Muzzled is an instant classic that grapples with the essential questions for artists and all societies that profess to be democratic."
--Sheryll Cashin, author of Loving: Interracial Intimacy and the Threat to White Supremacy

"A Mouth Is Always Muzzled is an inspired meditation on a land situated at the crossroads of empires and profiteers, still struggling to escape the legacy of its colonial past. Tracing the complex interplay of history and the present, Hopkinson portrays a culture both marred by domination and driven by stubborn luminaries who continue to perform 'the unfinished work of liberation.'"
--Russell Rickford, associate professor of history, Cornell University, and author of We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination

"This book places Guyana back in the news. For a country that has one of the world's highest suicide rates, Hopkinson brings hope, insight, and reflection to the land of her roots. A Mouth Is Always Muzzled is a book of politics and culture. It's a 'lotus' of a book, finding beauty beyond conflicts and differences. Hopkinson navigates history with a journalist's eye. Her comments about the life and death of historian and activist Walter Rodney will make one weep for the black genius that was killed opposing exploitation and the heavy air of oppression. Hopkinson reminds the reader to sleep with one eye open. The stories coming out of Guyana are a reminder that borders and boundaries are obsolete. Hopkinson also provides us with a passport to our memories."
--E. Ethelbert Miller, writer, literary activist, and 2016 recipient of the AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature

Praise for Natalie Hopkinson:
"Natalie Hopkinson has an established reputation as one of the most sophisticated commentators on contemporary black culture."
--Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man

Praise for Natalie Hopkinson's books:
"Part requiem for a culture that she sees being cast aside by a changing DC, and part appreciation of its unlikely survival and evolution. Her interviewees are full of rich stories."
--Mike Madden, Bookforum

"Not just a work of scholarship but an eloquent piece of cultural partisanship, an elegy, a counter-narrative, a love letter."
--Michael Lindgren, Washington Post

"Sharp reporting and analysis that veers from gut-wrenchingly honest to laugh-out-loud funny."
--Black Issues Book Review