Associate Professor Ian Afflerbach
(University of North Georgia, USA)

The Racial Sellout: Language, History, and Popular Culture

June 20, 2023, 4:15pm, 00.212 (Philo II, Jakob-Welder-Weg 20)


What does it mean to “sell out” your race? This talk will examine the history of such accusations in the United States, moving from early 20th century debates over black leadership to contemporary scandals in popular culture. It will explain why ideas about racial “authenticity” and “solidarity” are so controversial, yet so vital. And it will explore both the unique language used to identify race traitors, such as “Uncle Tom” and “house Negro,” as well as the ways this anxiety about racial loyalty reflects a broader American anxiety with the idea of “selling out.”

Ian Afflerbach is Associate Professor of American Literature at the University of North Georgia, where his research and teaching focus on the history of ideas, modernist studies, African American literature, and popular periodicals. He recently completed his first book, Making Liberalism New (Johns Hopkins 2021) and has begun work on a second project—a cultural history of “selling out” in modern America. He is currently a fellow at the University of Regensburg, Germany.

You can download the poster for the event here.


Scheduled Lectures News