Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Soul Generation: Radical Fashion, Beauty, and the Transnational Black Liberation Movement, 1954-1980

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Soul Generation: Radical Fashion, Beauty, and the Transnational Black Liberation Movement, 1954-1980

Article excerpt

Employing the term "soul culture" to describe the hairstyles, clothing, music, and leisure activities of black women coming of age in the 1960s and 70s, this dissertation argues that black women activists in the U.S. and in London used the space of the Black Liberation movement to self-fashion their own modern, liberated identities that were influenced by Pan-African cultures and political tactics. The project explores how Africana women's notions of what was soulful--and thus beautiful and powerful--changed from the late 1950s to the early 1980s as they gained visibility in movement organizations and in the media. Expanding the temporal framework of soul illuminates the multiple and often contradictory meanings that soul culture had for women such as Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Angela Davis, Olive Morris, and Stella Dadzie, all of whom were influential in making soul culture a globally recognized form of black expression.

Black women used the media to publish articles that highlighted women's diverse roles in the movement, to debate on whether or not women should wear natural hairstyles, and to question notions of an "authentic" blackness. They also fostered political networks between black women activists on both sides of the Atlantic, helping to create an international black movement. …

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