Mothering across Cultures: Postcolonial Representations

Mothering across Cultures: Postcolonial Representations

Mothering across Cultures: Postcolonial Representations

Mothering across Cultures: Postcolonial Representations

Excerpt

I'm Not Mad, I’m Postcolonial, a Woman,
and a Mother

et aucune race
ne possède de monopole de la beauté, de l’intelligence, de la force
et il est place pour tous au rendez-vous de la conquête
[and no race has a monopoly on beauty, on intelligence, on strength
and there is room for everyone at the convocation of victory]

—Aimé Césaire, Cahier d’un retour au pays natal

Is there a line between middle-east and far east?
And where’s nearly east?
And can’t someone be black, Asian and far eastern?
In my colonial style geography books
With whole areas coloured empire pink
There was a line.

—Kamila Zahno, “Ethnic Monitoring or a Geography Lesson”

The title of this introduction, “I’m Not Mad, I’m Postcolonial, a Woman, and a Mother,” is, in part, inspired from a line in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 1848 poem, “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.” After killing her baby girl (an issue of rape) the protagonist, a fugitive slave mother, exclaims, “I am not mad, I am black.” She asserts that her racial heritage is not the reason or substitute for irrationality. To what extent should we have compassion for a slave mother who, out of desperation, commits infanticide and then suicide? Browning wrote the poem for the abolitionist cause in the United States. The murder of a child by its mother would appear to most generations of readers as fanatical and irrational.

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