Dr Yumi Pak, Visiting Research Fellow, December 2020 - January 2021
Yumi Pak is associate professor in the Department of English and director of Ethnic Studies at California State University, San Bernardino.
"Blue, Gold, Black: Jackie Kay's Trumpet and Luke Sutherland's Venus As a Boy" is the third chapter of my book manuscript, Black Cities, Black Nations: Mapping the Traveling Body. This specific chapter investigates how Kay and Sutherland define their theoretical frameworks of a co-constitutive queerness and blackness as they propose alternative – non-heteronormative and Black feminist – imaginaries of what Scotland might yet be in their respective texts, Trumpet (1998) and Venus As a Boy (2004). While it is deceptively simple to focus on Kay and Sutherland’s similarities – both, for example, are adopted and raised in Scotland – my intention is not to read them biographically. Rather, by utilizing my interdisciplinary and cultural studies training, I examine how these authors, by queering Black music forms and sexualities, propose that a singular narrative of Scottish nationalism as a leftist rejection of the British Empire is actually a flattening of both blackness and Scotland’s complicity in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Taking seriously the figures of Joss Moody, a trans jazz musician in Trumpet, and Désirée, a young man who is slowly turning into gold in Venus As a Boy, I argue for a reading against the grain of these two novels as radically feminist, antiracist and ultimately decolonial documents that undertake what Toni Morrison has theorized as “rememory,” or the “remembering” of “something [one] had forgotten [one] knew” which exists in the interstices between cultural amnesia and phenomenological consciousness in Scotland (Morrison 73).