Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Magic Woman: Towards a Theory of Africana Women's Resistance

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Magic Woman: Towards a Theory of Africana Women's Resistance

Article excerpt

This study uses African sacred cultures and cosmologies as a framework with which to reveal more about enslaved black women's participation in organized resistance. The Akan diaspora in the Americas provides a uniquely fruitful case study, due to the fact that pre-colonial Akan culture is matrilineal, and in many regards, matrifocal. Enslaved Akan women's roles in resistance are compared with those played by women of other and intermingled African ethnicities.

Towards the goal of excavating the stories of enslaved African women from the margins of mainstream American history, this examination attempts to contextualize their roles as spiritual and political leaders, based on relevant African cosmologies. Three major aspects of women's resistance emerged from the investigation: (1) African women acted as queens and queen mothers, activated at key moments to galvanize enslaved people seeking not only freedom, but sovereignty; (2) In maroon communities, women's maintenance of African cultural traditions, agricultural production and motherhood made long-term settlements possible; (3) As priestesses and "conjurers," women attacked slaveholders with their spiritual gifts and knowledge, in ways that were sometimes more effective than direct, military confrontation, and were often coordinated to work in tandem with armed conflict. …

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