Amber West



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Blackface minstrelsy has long been recognized as one of the major elements of 19th and early 20th-century popular performance in the U.S., but its central role in U.S. puppetry has not been explored. West debunks the idea that puppets are “raceless”, examining the origins of blackface minstrelsy in American puppetry, including traditional Punch and Judy performances, William John Bullock’s 19th-century puppet minstrel shows, the creation of “realistic” Black puppets by white puppeteers in the early 20th century, and contemporary examples of exaggerated Black puppet characters, for example in a music video directed by Black artist Boots Riley. West points out existing studies of race and racism in American puppetry, and concludes that more investigation of the subject is needed.

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puppetry, performing objects, African American culture


African American Studies | Africana Studies | Arts and Humanities | Other Theatre and Performance Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Theatre and Performance Studies

Raceless Racism: Blackface Minstrelsy in American Puppetry