Bodies out of Place

Theorizing Anti-blackness in U.S. Society

Title Details

Pages: 296

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 09/01/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6235-9

List Price: $32.95


Pub Date: 09/01/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6236-6

List Price: $114.95

Bodies out of Place

Theorizing Anti-blackness in U.S. Society

How racism plays out in physical and social spaces

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Bodies out of Place asserts that anti-Black racism is not better than it used to be; it is just performed in more-nuanced ways. Barbara Harris Combs argues that racism is dynamic, so new theories are needed to help expose it. The Bodies-out-of-Place (BOP) theory she advances in the book offers such a corrective lens. Interrogating several recent racialized events—the Central Park birding incident, the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, sleeping while Black occurrences, and others—Combs demonstrates how the underlying belief that undergirds each encounter is a false presumption that Black bodies in certain contexts are out of place.

Within these examples she illustrates how, even amid professions to color-blindness, fixed attitudes about where Black bodies belong, in what positions, at what time, and with whom still predominate. Combs describes a long historical pattern of White pushback against Black advancement and illuminates how each of the various forms of pushback is aimed at social control and regulation of Black bodies. She describes overt and covert attempts to push Black bodies back into their presumed place in U.S. society. While the pushback takes many forms, each works to paint a narrative to justify, rationalize, and excuse continuing violence against Black bodies. Equally important, Combs celebrates the resilient Black agency that has resisted this subjugation.

Bodies out of Place resonates with a fervor and sense of urgency that is fully appropriate to this historical moment and has the potential to speak meaningfully to both general public readers and academic specialists about the causes and consequences of the Movement for Black Lives.

—George Lipsitz, author of How Racism Takes Place

With brilliant insight and gorgeous prose, Bodies out of Place develops one of the most important contemporary theories of anti-blackness. Combs weaves together social science on racism, place, embodiment, and violence along with symbolic interactionism to seamlessly explain how Black skin is weaponized by White supremacy. This groundbreaking book shows that anti-black racism operates, foundationally, through violent insistence on regulating, abusing, and killing Black bodies in purportedly White spaces. This is cutting edge social scientific theorizing, infused with a deep love for Blackness and a profound commitment to Black liberation.

—Ellen Berrey, coauthor of Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality

Ever insightful and original, scholar-teacher Barbara Harris Combs shows in painful detail the anti-Blackness central to white racial framing and oppression for centuries. Fearful white framing racializes all spaces, constantly viewing Black Americans as out of place, criminal, dangerous, and most ignorantly, not really American. A brilliant and necessary read, especially for non-Black Americans.

—Joe Feagin, author of The White Racial Frame

About the Author/Editor

BARBARA HARRIS COMBS is chair and professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University. She is the author of From Selma to Montgomery: The Long March to Freedom.