Paul Robeson and the Cold War Performance Complex: Race, by Tony Perucci

By Tony Perucci

Actor and singer Paul Robeson's performances in Othello, Show Boat, and The Emperor Jones made him recognized, yet his midcentury appearances in help of motives starting from hard work and civil rights to antilynching and American warmongering made him infamous. while Robeson introduced on the 1949 Paris Peace convention that it used to be "unthinkable" for blacks to visit struggle opposed to the Soviet Union, the mainstream American press declared him insane. 
 
Notions of Communism, blackness, and madness have been interchangeably deployed through the chilly warfare to activism comparable to Robeson's, only a a part of an array of social and cultural practices that writer Tony Perucci calls the chilly struggle functionality complicated. targeting key Robeson performances---the live shows in Peekskill, ny, in 1949 and his visual appeal prior to the home Committee on Un-American actions in 1956---Perucci demonstrates how those performances and the government's reaction to them are valuable to figuring out the heritage of chilly struggle tradition within the usa. His booklet offers a transformative new point of view on how the fight over the politics of functionality within the Nineteen Fifties used to be additionally a household fight over freedom and equality. The e-book heavily examines either one of those functionality occasions in addition to artifacts from chilly struggle culture---including congressional files, FBI documents, overseas coverage papers, the preferred literature on psychological disease, and govt propaganda films---to research the operation of energy and activism in American chilly battle culture.

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In 1961, Robeson attempted suicide in Moscow, which may or may not have been a result of drugging by CIA and/or British MI-5 operatives. After his stay in Moscow, Robeson was preparing to depart for a meeting with Fidel Castro in Cuba. On March 27, 1961, following a raucous party in Robeson’s Moscow hotel room, his translator found him with his wrists slit. Fortunately, he was found before extensive blood loss killed him. Once returned to London, an extremely paranoid Robeson was admitted into the Priory, a private sanitarium.

85 Such a belief emerged in many popular texts of the era. Mickey Spillane’s pulp detective “Mike Hammer” was a great believer in the Schlesinger model that only a “mental defect” would lead an American to adopt Communism. In One Lonely Night (1951), Hammer unmasks Oscar, a Communist and escaped mental patient and villain of the novel, with the following exclamation: “That’s why you were a Commie, Oscar, because you were batty. ”87 As McCarthy tellingly suggests, the mask of sanity was the equivalent of the mask of citizenship.

After his stay in Moscow, Robeson was preparing to depart for a meeting with Fidel Castro in Cuba. On March 27, 1961, following a raucous party in Robeson’s Moscow hotel room, his translator found him with his wrists slit. Fortunately, he was found before extensive blood loss killed him. Once returned to London, an extremely paranoid Robeson was admitted into the Priory, a private sanitarium. Within thirty-six hours of admission, Robeson was started on a regiment of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT).

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