New Book Talks: Skinfolk, Matthew Pratt Guterl

CSREA (Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America)
, True North Classroom


CSREA’s New Book Talks highlight new and notable works studying race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. They facilitate thought-provoking and critical engagement with emerging scholarship.

Kinfolk: A Memoir

Matthew Pratt Guterl, L. Herbert Ballou University Professor of Africana Studies and American Studies

Skinfolk is a haunting, poignant story of growing up in a mixed-race family in 1970s New Jersey that exposes the joys and constraints of love, blood, and belonging, and the persistent river of racial violence in America, past and present. In lyrical yet wrenching prose, Matthew Pratt Guterl, one of the children, narrates a family saga of astonishing originality, in which even the best intentions would prove woefully inadequate. He takes us inside the clapboard house where Bob and Sheryl raised their makeshift brood in a nation riven then as now by virulent racism and xenophobia. Chronicling both the humor and pathos of this experiment, he “opens a door to our dreams of what the idea of family might make possible.”

About the Author

Matthew Guterl is a historian of race and nation, with a focus on United States history from the Civil War to the present. He has written four books, including Seeing Race in America (UNC, 2013) and Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe (Harvard, 2014). Right now, he is working on a global biography of the queer, cosmopolitan, human rights activist, Roger Casement, and a book on class-passing, cross-dressing, and race-passing. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Museum of American History, Yale University, Rice University, and the Library Company of Philadelphia. In 2010, he was the winner of the Mary C. Turpie Prize, given by the American Studies Association, for distinguished teaching, service, and program development.

Moderated by Tricia Rose, CSREA Director and Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies