Women of African Descent and the Body as a Performative Tool to Negotiate Loyalty to Individual and/or Collective Power

AHA Session 91
Friday, January 4, 2019: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Wilson Room (Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor)
Lorelle Semley, College of the Holy Cross
The Audience

Session Abstract

This panel will explore ways in which - through dress, dance, reproduction, and sex – women of African descent used the body as a performative tool to negotiate loyalty to individual and/or collective power in various spaces and places in the African diaspora. Beginning in 19th century Louisiana, Dr. Noel Voltz examines how free women of color transformed their bodies into symbols of respectability, collective identity, and empowerment through dress and their participation in Quadroon Balls. Next, Dr. Cymone Forshey explores the ways in which East African women, and particularly women in Tanzania, employed the kanga cloth in public and private spaces as performances of power. Our next presenter, Dr. Thabiti Willis discusses the conditions under which women of the African diaspora negotiated claims to their body’s productive and reproductive labor in the domestic sphere in the Arab World. Finally, Dr. Nwando Achebe will use a viral video of a striptease made by female students at the University of Nigeria to examine how the internet functions both as a “safe haven” for sexual minorities and a site of hate crimes and violence.
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