Explores how suburban space and the body are racialized in American film.
This book is the first anthology to explore the connection between race and the suburbs in American cinema from the end of World War II to the present. It builds upon the explosion of interest in the suburbs in film, television, and fiction in the last fifteen years, concentrating exclusively on the relationship of race to the built environment. Suburb films began as a cycle in response to both America's changing urban geography and the re-segregation of its domestic spaces in the postwar era, which excluded African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinx from the suburbs while buttressing whiteness. By defying traditional categories and chronologies in cinema studies, the contributors explore the myriad ways suburban spaces and racialized bodies in film mediate each other. Race and the Suburbs in American Film is a stimulating resource for considering the manner in which race is foundational to architecture and urban geography, which is reflected, promoted, and challenged in cinematic representations.
Merrill Schleier is Professor Emeritus of Art and Architectural History and Film Studies at the University of the Pacific. They are the author of Skyscraper Cinema: Architecture and Gender in American Film.
"A fascinating look at how suburban films have treated race, from their long-lived fixation on whiteness to an opening up to diverse perspectives and experiences. Through creative analysis of cinematic elements and the business of film, the volume's authors probe the many ways racialized people inhabited the cinematic suburb, and encourage us to reimagine the suburban film genre itself." — Becky M. Nicolaides, author of My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965
"Centering films and figures often left out of the popular canon of suburban cinema saturated by images white families fenced in by even whiter picket fences, Race and the Suburbs in American Film broadens the archive of suburban film and its racial tropes beyond blanket exclusion. From attending to the black maids statically framed in mid-century film and black filmmakers' efforts decades later to capture black suburban experience as homeowners, to tales of suburban dysfunction, isolation, and indivisibility highlighted in films centering Asian and Arab American experiences, the essays in this collection powerfully retrieve the more complex story of race's presence in the suburbs punctuating American cinema." — Adrienne Brown, author of The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race