Decolonize Hipsters by Grégory Pierrot

About the Book

Few urban critters are more reviled than the hipster. They are notoriously difficult to define, and yet we know one when we see one. No wonder: they were among the global cultural phenomena that ushered in the 21st century. They have become a bulwark of mainstream culture, cultural commodity, status, butt of all jokes and ready-made meme.

But frightening as it is to imagine, for more than a century hipsters have been lurking among us. Defined by their appearances and the cloud of meaning attached to them—the cool vanguard of gentrification, the personification of capitalism with a conscience—hipsters are all looks, and these looks are a visual timeline to America’s past and present.

Underlining this timeline is the pattern of American popular culture’s love/hate/theft relationship with Black culture. Yet the pattern of recycling has reached a chilling point: the 21st century hipster made all possible past fads into new trends, including and especially the old uncool. In Decolonize Hipsters, Grégory Pierrot gives us a field guide to the phenomenon, a symptom and vanguard of the wave of aggressive white supremacist sentiment now oozing from around the globe.

  • Grégory Pierrot

    is an associate professor of English at the University of Connecticut at Stamford. His works focuses on the international cultural politics of blackness. He is the author of The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture (Georgia UP, 2019), translator of Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli’s Free Jazz/Black Power (Mississippi UP, 2015) and co-editor with Paul Youngquist of Marcus Rainsford’s An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti (Duke UP 2012). He is also co-editor with Marlene L. Daut and Marion Rohrleitner of the forthcoming Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions (UVA Press, 2020).

“Ever since Norman Mailer styled himself as a ‘White Negro’ and Anatole Broyard passed as a white jazz fan, the hipster has been a subject of fascination in cultural criticism, a symbol of the love and theft at the heart of American popular culture. Grégory Pierrot’s fiercely illuminating short book dissects the political complacency and racial delusions of hipsterism, but it does so with a verve, swagger and irreverence. Pierrot provides us not only an anatomy of hipsterism’s past, but a vision of its possible future. ”
                  —Adam Shatz, editor of Prophets Outcast