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A Black British Male Perspective of Identities

Patrick Hylton

This paper will present some of the identity positions articulated by British born African-Caribbean men. In a previous paper, Hylton & Miller (2004) considered Black Identity in term of macro-narratives. While this paper provided a historical context to notions of "Blackness", it was principally informed by American conceptions that were only occasionally fractured by British viewpoints. The paper to be presented will address this by providing a more micro-analytic, fine grained analysis of Black identity, located from an exclusive British/European stance. The paper will reveal some of the accounts of Black identity presently articulated by Black British men.

Using Q-methodology Black men’s "socio-individual" and "socio-political" identities revealed a wide range of positions, including a "Pro-African" identity, an "Indifferent African" identity, an "Externally-Contested Blackness" identity, and an "Internally-Defined" identity. These positions will be briefly reported and how these identities respond to questions such as "how Black British men conceived themselves historically?" "How they understand themselves as black, de-localized Africans and/or whether they conceptualize themselves as part of an international community?" and, "What, if any, is their relationship to Africa and to other parts of the African Diaspora?" will be discussed. Hence, this paper contributes to this on-going debate by offering voice to the realities of Black British Male&180;s identities, and is part of a wider project that aims to respond to the following questions:

  1. what have been the accounts of Black identity in the past, and how and why have these changed?

  2. what are some of the accounts on Black identity presently articulated by Black British men?

  3. what are some of their present understandings about the socio-political situation in Britain?

  4. what is the relationship between the accounts of identity collected?

  5. what are the possibilities of movement between the various identities collected?

  6. what are the psychosocial arguments for or against some of these accounts?

  7. what is the present common conception of a Black community?

Workshop topics include:
Empirical research: subjects and objects
Possible questions:

  • In what way are the methodologies and epistemologies used in traditional positivistic scientific approaches compatible with the "africentric" ontology? Is Q-methodology the answer, or is it an approach that opens the space for "divide and conquer" strategies?

  • Who is in controls, as the final say, about research?

  • How do we decide what is appropriate, morally and politically, in terms of putting forward notions that speak on behalf of "Black" people? What is acceptable and unacceptable use of research about Black people? How do we empower those who we research on and who are is less advantageous positions than ourselves? Is there such a thing as a Black research program?

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