Introduction: Jim Crow’s Cultural Turns

Elizabeth Abel

in Signs of the Times

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780520261174
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945869 | DOI:
Introduction: Jim Crow’s Cultural Turns

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This book examines the pervasive and tenacious and variously mediated web of racial signage that stretched across much of the United States for three-quarters of a century and which lagged several decades behind the actual practices of racial segregation. First appearing in the closing decades of the nineteenth century inside train cars and outside station doors, hundreds of thousands of Jim Crow signs spread, through the early decades of the twentieth century, sporadically up and down both coasts and across much of the Midwest. “Jim Crow” names a defining crux of American racial politics and culture. This book looks at how race has always been intertwined with space in the United States. It also discusses how Jim Crow signs were produced, reproduced, and made visible and invisible to distinctive viewing publics, focusing on questions of mediation and memory. Moreover, it addresses the material history of Jim Crow signs, their tangible forms, and circuits of transmission; the circulation of Jim Crow photographs; and issues of race and gender in Jim Crow signs.

Keywords: Jim Crow signs; United States; racial segregation; race; racial politics; culture; space; photographs; gender; memory

Chapter.  12932 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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