The Nigrescent Beyond

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4206-0

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4205-3

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4204-6
Publication Date
July 2020
Page Count
160 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Nigrescent Beyond

Mexico, the United States, and the Psychic Vanishing of Blackness
Ricardo A. Wilson II

Despite New Spain’s significant participation in the early transatlantic slave trade, the collective imagination of the Mexican nation evolved in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to understand itself as devoid of a black presence. In The Nigrescent Beyond, Ricardo Wilson proposes a framework for understanding this psychic vanishing of blackness and thinks through how it can be used to both productively unsettle contemporary multicultural and postracial discourses within the United States and further the interrogations of being and blackness within the larger field of black studies.

Pushing against the reflex to catalog the essence of these vanishings with the aim of restoring an imagined community, Wilson models a practice of reading that instead honors the disruptive possibilities offered by an ever-present awareness of that which lies, irretrievable, beyond the horizon of vanishing itself. In doing so, he engages with historical accounts detailing maroon activities in early New Spain, contemporary coverage of the push to make legible Afro-Mexican identities, and the work of Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, Octavio Paz, Ivan Van Sertima, Miguel Covarrubias, Steven Spielberg, and Colson Whitehead, among others. Nigrescence, the process of becoming dark, is mobilized to articulate the contours of a barrier at the limits of a collective imagination, beyond which radical black matter has become and is becoming unreadable even as we read.

About the Author

RICARDO A. WILSON II is an assistant professor in the Department of English and affiliate faculty in the Program in Comparative Literature at Williams College.


"With The Nigrescent Beyond: Mexico, the United States, and the Psychic Vanishing of Blackness we are at once given a subtle new radical voice in thought and a sustained and necessary new exposure to the emplacement of matters of ‘Blackness’ across the hemisphere, by way of a wholly other experience of all that is Mexico.” —Nahum Dimitri Chandler, author of Toward an African Future: Of the Limit of World