There's a Disco Ball Between Us: A Theory of Black Gay Life


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.89 inches | 1.28 pounds

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About the Author

Jafari S. Allen is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Global Black Studies at the University of Miami and author of ¡Venceremos? The Erotics of Black Self-making in Cuba, also published by Duke University Press.


"In this innovative and generously envisioned book, Jafari S. Allen presents an unprecedented consideration of Black queerness as he weaves together a loving tapestry of Black feminist and Black queer theorists that spans half a century of critical work. Suffused with the 'Blackfullness' of queer love, loss, and world-making, There's a Disco Ball Between Us is a lyrical, incisive, history-making, and paradigm-shifting work."--Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley, author of "Ezili's Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders"
"This text does not shy away from the intellectual tradition of Black feminist affect in which it exists. Instead, Allen invites the reader into an experience that can work, if they choose to work it. Allen's register is sharp, to the bone, and it shines. At times, I wondered if I was grown enough to know these things, or well read enough to show up to this conversation and hang. . . . For Allen, Black gay life is a refraction of fantasy and action. His critical ethnography builds upon a Black feminist drive to create embodied narratives. . . . His prose and rigorous engagement with the long 1980s invite the reader into conversation with a litany of elder co-conspirators."
--Charlene A. Carruthers "Public Books" (8/10/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"At once an intellectual history, a manifesto, a self-reflexive ethnography, and a memoir, Allen's book is a genre-defying text that revises our understanding of the Black experience."--Frank Andrew Guridy "Public Books" (12/7/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"A genre-transcending meditation on one of the most undertheorized periods in Black queer history, There's a Disco Ball Between Us is a timely and necessary account of what the period leading up to, during, and after the long shadow of the 1980s means for the current moment in Black queer world-making. At once poetic and playful, it pushes the boundaries of traditional scholarship, providing a methodology for analyzing Black queer culture. To use the vernacular of the ballroom children, folks are going to gag at its deft reads, melodic writing, and creative rendering of Black queer history."--E. Patrick Johnson, author of "Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women"
"Allen has skillfully woven together the experiences of an 'anthologized generation' without falling into the trap of eliding them. Rather, like a disco ball, the many reflections and refractions come together to form a theory of Black gay life that is at once coherent and infinitely diverse."--Baird Campbell "American Anthropologist" (1/24/2023 12:00:00 AM)
"A book to re-read in order to reach new depths, to see the reflections from the disco ball from yet another angle. . . . I strongly recommend this book to scholars and student within academia, across disciplines, to artists, writers, and activists outside of academia - to anyone seeking to explore and become more intimate with Black gay (and queer) habits of mind."--Rebecka Rehnström "Anthropology Book Forum" (3/7/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"There's a Disco Ball Between Us anthologizes desire as a glittering communal practice of Black/gay habit: as a moment of recognition between kith if not kin, as acknowledgement even if in quarrel, shifting lives in and out of time, dancing freedom."--Sharanya "Full Stop" (3/16/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"Jafari Allen's There's a Disco Ball Between Us has been so helpful and clarifying for me. . . ."--Ashon Crawley "Public Books" (8/10/2022 12:00:00 AM)