In Resurrecting the Black Body Tonia Sutherland examines the consequences of digitally raising the dead. Attending to the violent deaths of Black Americans–and the records that document them–from slavery through the present, Sutherland explores media evidence, digital acts of remembering, and the rights and desires of humans to be forgotten. From the popular image of Gordon (also known as “Whipped Peter”), photographs of the lynching of Jesse Washington, and the video of George Floyd’s murder to DNA, holograms, and posthumous communication, Sutherland draws on critical archival, digital, and cultural studies to make legible Black bodies and lives forever captured in cycles of memorialization and commodification. If the Black digital afterlife is rooted in historical bigotry and inspires new forms of racialized aggression, Resurrecting the Black Body asks what other visions of life and remembrance are possible, illuminating the unique ways that Black cultures have fought against the silence and erasure of oblivion.
PRAISE FOR RESURRECTING THE BLACK BODY
“A masterful critique of the opportunities digital technologies offer for documenting and (re)presenting Black people after they die.”
—Sulagna Basu, American Sociological Review
"In Resurrecting the Black Body, Tonia Sutherland intricately examines Black embodiment, death and remembering, specifically the effects that inclusion and visibility within the digital archival record can have on individuals and the collective. Sutherland argues for autonomy and imagination in determining the Black digital afterlife."
"Resurrecting the Black Body reminds us that the right to be forgotten is just as important as the right to be remembered, and that in all of the recent demands among and of archivists to expand representation in the historic record, we have lost focus on the right to self-determination."
—Michelle Caswell, author, Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work
"Tonia Sutherland raises new and complex questions concerning the social and political dynamics of race and racialization tied to the Black body, requiring us to think more critically about elements of digital technology we have long celebrated."
—Charlton McIlwain, author, Black Software: The Internet and Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter
"Beautifully written. Sutherland approaches this text with the kind of care that the subjects of her inquiry are rarely afforded. Resurrecting the Black Body demands readers consider how digital technology provides not only a site of circulation for images of Black death but new possibilities for how we who work with and think about the archival records of Black folks consider the fullness of Black life."
—Catherine Knight Steele, author, Digital Black Feminism