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Katharina Schramm


This article aims to analyse the dynamics of the making and unmaking of racial identities by looking at the ways in which the issue of race is debated in the context of historical and more recent return movements of African Americans to Ghana. The discourse surrounding the return, or homecoming as it is commonly phrased, is determined by notions of an African family and Black kinship. In official rhetoric, race is represented as an irrefutable reality, and a shared racial identity appears as the key to the mutual understanding and common cause of Africans and African Americans. Going beyond this rhetoric, the author shows how the categories of Blackness and Whiteness, while being constructed as mutually exclusive, are rather flexible and constantly re-negotiated in the course of the homecoming practice. She argues that the entangled movements of diasporic return speak in profound ways of the complexity and ambivalence that are at the heart of processes of racialisation. Cet article vise à analyser la dynamique de construction et de destruction des identités raciales en étudiant les voies par lesquelles la question de la race est débattue dans le contexte des mouvements historiques et plus récents des Afro-Américains au Ghana. Le discours entourant le retour, ou le retour au pays tel qu'il est généralement exprimé, est déterminé par les notions de la famille africaine et de la parenté noire. Dans la rhétorique officielle, la race est représentée comme une réalité irréfutable et l'identité raciale partagée apparaît comme la clef à la compréhension mutuelle et à la cause commune des Africains et des Afro-Américains. En allant au-delà de cette rhétorique, l'auteure montre que les catégories de noirceur et de blancheur, bien qu'étant construites comme mutuellement exclusives, sont plutôt flexibles et constamment renégociées au cours du retour au pays. Elle soutient que les mouvements enchevêtrés du retour de la diaspora parlent de façon profonde de la complexité et de l'ambivalence qui sont au cœur des processus de racialisation.

Kristine Krause and Katharina Schramm


In the introduction to this special volume the editors focus on the analytical value of “political subjectivities” in emergent social fields that are characterized by multiple diasporic overlaps. They emphasize the central role played by various forms of governance in producing, confirming and contesting politics of transnational incorporation and diasporic participation and consider how these political projects often target members of historically differently situated groups. In particular, they draw attention to moments of exclusion and non-incorporation. The analytical concept of political subjectivity helps to understand how people relate to governance and authorities. It denotes how a single person or a group of actors is brought into a position to stake claims, to have a voice, and to be recognizable by authorities. At the same time the term points to the political and power-ridden dimension within politics of identity and belonging, encompassing the imaginary as well as the judicial-political dimension of claims to belonging and citizenship.