Black Privacy

Shoniqua Roach's picture
Call for Papers
January 15, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Women's & Gender History / Studies, Theatre & Performance History / Studies, Sexuality Studies, African American History / Studies, Black History / Studies
Black Privacy

Privacy has historically occupied a fraught space in the Western political imagination. It is both a presumptive universal “human” right and consistently devalued as the apolitical domain of the feminine. Although it has no codified constitutional or legal correlate, privacy is consistently positioned as valuable to an undifferentiated legal “person,” and, by extension, to nebulous notions of “the social.” Privacy and its value, then, are always already illusory and complicated. Yet, despite and perhaps because of the nebulousness of privacy, historical and recent Black critical and cultural producers have interrogated its relationship to blackness and Black life. This special issue seeks to map “Black privacy” and its various meanings and contours, given the proliferation of public blackness, the ubiquity of representations of Black bodies on the ground and on the screen, historical and ongoing legal and biomedical infractions on Black embodied and genetic life exemplified by the case of Henrietta Lacks, the pernicious privatization of information in the digital sphere, and a recent Black cultural studies turn to locating resistive tactics such as the quiet, the intimate, and opacity as part of a broader effort to shield blackness from hypervisibility and surveillance. What is Black privacy? What are the material implications of privacy’s presence in or absence from Black life? What is the relationship between Black privacy and aesthetics? What rights might be covered under a rubric of “Black privacy”?

We invite contributions that traverse disciplinary, geographical, spatial, and political boundaries not to fix a specific definition of black privacy or to insist (one way or another) on its transhistorical or political value, but rather to grapple with the various ways in which blackness has been defined and experienced as/at the limit of privacy. This special issue seeks to mine the tenacious hold that privacy continues to have on Black people and Black life and to query the meanings, contours, functions and utility of “Black privacy” in ways that are attentive to both its capaciousness and import.

Submissions may include but are not limited to the following questions:

What is Black privacy? Can “Black privacy” exist given the public construction of blackness? How do we make legal claims to Black reproductive, informational, biomedical and domestic privacy when it is already a nebulous concept and an illusory constitutional right? How might Black privacy safeguard against or potentially reinforce the proliferation of public blackness, or its hypervisibility, iconicity, and/or surveillance? What is the erotic potentiality of Black privacy? How do concepts and practices of privacy respond to carceral regimes that animate Black surveillance and counter-surveillance? How do we balance the use of digital media as a strategy of self-making and community building even as Black critical information studies scholars demonstrate that the Internet is a space in which private information is sold and exchanged for “public” resources?

Submission Guidelines

Submissions to TBS must be original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere. To make sure your submission is processed as smoothly as possible, please review TBS’s guidelines hereAny submissions that do not adhere to TBS’s guidelines will be returned or rejected.

For this issue, full-length manuscripts for peer review should range in length from 3,500-5,000 words. All word counts are inclusive of endnotes and images.

TBS requires electronic submissions, in Word format, only. To submit articles, please go to Please contact the Editorial Manager (EM) help desk at with any technical questions about, or problems with, submitting to EM.

Because we strive for a public, Black/Africana Studies and interdisciplinary space of intellectual exchange, TBS discourages highly specialized or professional language and encourages open, argumentative work that is well written. Strive for an essayistic tone and target your submission to an engaged, educated, but general audience.

All manuscript submissions are due by January 15th, 2020. The issue is slated for publication in Spring 2021.

For questions, please email the Guest Editors at:

Samantha Pinto

Shoniqua Roach