Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women

Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women

Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women

Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women

Synopsis

Theorizing Black Feminisms outlines some of the crucial debates going on within contemporary Black feminist activity. In so doing it brings together a collection of some of the most exciting work by Black women scholars, celebrating Black women's agency and pragmatic activism. Refusing to be limited by notions of disciplinary boundaries or divisions between theory and practice, Theorizing Black Feminisms draws on literature, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and art. In four sections - on `revising paradigms', `theory and action', `controlling our bodies', and `the language of identities', sixteen essays cover a range of diverse issues, including: * Theorizing race, class and gender in the new Black feminist scholarship * Women and collective action * Rape, HIV transmission, abortion and African-American women * Discouse, critique and identity: languages of the self Theorizing Black Feminisms is vital reading for anyone - activist, student, artist or scholar - interested in exploring the multidisciplinary possiblities of Black feminism. Exciting and innovative, the volume both reflects and intervenes in a rapidly expanding field.

Excerpt

It seemed almost inevitable that Spelman College would be one of the sites where this long-overdue anthology, Theorizing Black Feminisms, would be nurtured. We were happy to provide a haven for the sisters who gathered in September 1991 for the second Black Feminism Seminar. Such a gathering was a reflection of the vision I had for Spelman when I became the first African-American woman to head what was then a 107-year-old institution for educating African-American women.

In 1987, I expressed the hope that Spelman would become a renowned center for scholarship on women of African descent. I saw Spelman as a nurturing place, a second home, if you will, for scholars, teachers, artists, policy analysts and community leaders committed to the empowerment of Black women. Expanding on the work of the Women's Research and Resource Center, work which is expressed, for example, by the publication of the highly respected journal SAGE: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women, I imagined that Spelman would blossom as an intellectual center of Black Women's Studies. I hoped that my own scholarship in the area of Women's Studies would make a modest contribution to the growth of such an intellectual center. Supporting the institutionalization of Black Women's Studies at Spelman would enhance, I believed, the fundamental mission of the college to educate Black women leaders since 1881.

The book Theorizing Black Feminisms captures so much of the discourse that I hoped would take place at Spelman, a special womanist college for African-American sisters. Clearly, then, we treasure the association of Spelman with this powerful and provocative work. The book is edited by Spelman alumna Stanlie James, and includes a chapter on the development of Women's Studies at the college written by Spelman alumna Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies. The Black feminist content and diasporan framework of the book are also central themes in many intellectual discussions at Spelman

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