2016 winner of the American Historical Association's Wesley-Logan Prize in African diaspora history • Finalist for the 2016 Fage and Oliver Prize from the African Studies Association of the UK
“A fascinating exploration of sex across the color line in colonial Ghana. This book is a brilliant addition to the literature on sex, gender and empire.”
Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy and law, New York University
“[A] brilliant exposition of the colonial and nationalist politics of interracial unions in the Gold Coast and the eastern Black Atlantic…Through incisive analysis and beautiful narrative detail, the book reminds us that, even more than ideology or material power, it was the intensely personal webs of social relations that structured the politics of colonialism and decolonization.”
Journal of Modern History
“[Ray's] analysis of available records shocks and moves readers, offering delicately nuanced interpretations of the lives and relationships (not just sexual) of the men and women caught up in scandal. Indeed, few historians can match her skill in demonstrating the interplay between race, sexuality, and class.”
Journal of the History of Sexuality
“Employing interracial sex as a loom, Ray deftly weaves disparate threads into a compelling tapestry that displays the underlying tensions of empire hidden in sex across the color line. …This innovative study is accessible, deserves a wide readership, and is essential reading on race, sec, and colonial politics in Ghana and Britain.”
Journal of West African History
Interracial sex mattered to the British colonial state in West Africa. In Crossing the Color Line, Carina E. Ray goes beyond this fact to reveal how Ghanaians shaped and defined these powerfully charged relations. The interplay between African and European perspectives and practices, argues Ray, transformed these relationships into key sites for consolidating colonial rule and for contesting its hierarchies of power. With rigorous methodology and innovative analyses, Ray brings Ghana and Britain into a single analytic frame to show how intimate relations between black men and white women in the metropole became deeply entangled with those between black women and white men in the colony in ways that were profoundly consequential.
Based on rich archival evidence and original interviews, the book moves across different registers, shifting from the micropolitics of individual disciplinary cases brought against colonial officers who “kept” local women to transatlantic networks of family, empire, and anticolonial resistance. In this way, Ray cuts to the heart of how interracial sex became a source of colonial anxiety and nationalist agitation during the first half of the twentieth century.
Carina Ray is an associate professor of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University. She is coeditor of Navigating African Maritime History and Darfur and the Crisis of Governance in Sudan.
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