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Adolescent citizenship, or temporality and the negation of black childhood in two eras

Breslow, Jacob ORCID: 0000-0001-8643-9804 (2019) Adolescent citizenship, or temporality and the negation of black childhood in two eras. American Quarterly, 71 (2). pp. 473-494. ISSN 0003-0678

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Identification Number: 10.1353/aq.2019.0039


The history of negating black childhood, and the history of rendering the full potential of black citizenship an unbegotten promise, are paired together through violent notions of time. Examining black childhood in two eras, this article argues that childhood is deadly under anti-blackness because of its ambivalent and discrepant stickiness to black bodies, and its positioning of blackness within differing relations to futurity and temporality. The first section critically unpacks infantilizing discourses within colonial law, abolitionist discourse, and gradual emancipation during the antebellum era. The second undertakes an interrogation of the discursive constructions of Trayvon Martin’s adolescence during the so-called post-racial era. Across these eras, the constructions of black childhood and adolescence as being out of time, as defined by prolonged dependency and elongated becoming, allow the violences of anti-blackness to continue amidst dubious claims to progress: the alleged success of Northern abolition, and the emergence of a post-racial society. Pairing the temporal negations of black childhood in these two eras, it offers the framing of adolescent citizenship. Adolescent citizenship is the produced relation between some citizens and the nation whereby the adolescent citizen’s demands for recognition are dismissed under the guise of the citizen’s, and the demand’s, inappropriate timing.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Johns Hopkins University Press
Divisions: Gender Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2018 13:49
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2024 01:54

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