The African American at the end of the nineteenth century was described by W. E. B. Du Bois as two souls in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. In the United States today, the hyphen between these two souls-African and American, African-American-is still being negotiated. In Harlem , Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak engages with twenty-four photographs by Alice Attie as she attempts teleopoiesis, which she describes as a reaching toward the distant other through the empathetic power of the imagination. In the hands of Spivak, teleopoiesis is a kind of identity politics in which one disrupts identity as a result of migration or exile. For the last two decades, Spivak tes, Harlem has been the focus of major ecomic development. As the old Harlem disappears into a present that simultaneously demands and rejects a cultural essence, Spivak dwells in Attie's images, trying to navigate some middle ground between the rock of social history and the hard place of a collective culture.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is a University Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and the author of many books, including The Post-Colonial Critic, Nationalism and the Imagination, and, with Judith Butler, Who Sings the Nation-State?, the latter two also published by Seagull Books. Alice Attie is an artist and a writer. She is the author of Harlem on the Verge.