Dismantling Black Manhood: An Historical and Literary Analysis of the Legacy of Slavery

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Overview

This book examines the social, economic, and cultural factors that have produced the current crisis in African American masculinity, tracing the development of concepts of manhood from pre-colonial West Africa through the Emancipation Proclamation in America. The study begins with an exploration of the cultural context of manhood and the social development of boys into men in West Africa which was based on the rites of passage and the mastery of such social skills as hunting and farming. Enslavement annihilated this unambiguous social status. Denied the possibility of fulfilling the necessary social roles of warrior, husband, father, and protector, African men were forced to redefine manhood, without the benefit of communal discussions. Hence, manhood to many enslaved African American men became an increasingly ambiguous and elusive concept, coupled with problematic notions of sexual performance, absolute patriarchal domination of the household, and the devaluation of commitments that impinge upon a man's independence. Narratives written between 1794 and 1863 reveal that by the end of slavery the concept had become a source of major conflict for African American men. This unique study focuses on the deterioration of the black male concept of manhood in 19th-century America and explores the dilemma of what it means to be black and male in America.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Drawing on documents between 1794 and 1863, shows how the forms and symbols of manhood in pre-colonial West Africa were destroyed by slavery, and how male slaves strove to redefine what it meant to be an adult male in the absence of the communal discussion. Captivity is shown to have erased not only the rites of manhood the functions and activities by which men fulfilled the social roles as warrior, husband, father, and protector. The reconstructed notions included such aspects as sexual performance, absolute patriarchal domination of the household, and the devaluation of and commitments that impinge on independence. They seemed to be largely in place by the time slavery ended, and African-American men carried them into their new status. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction 3
The Concept of Manhood in Pre-Colonial West Africa 11
The Impact of the Long March and the Middle Passage on the West African Concept of Manhood 43
Plantation Existence and the West African Concept of Manhood 63
The Concept of Manhood and the Enslaved African American Male 99
The Concept of Manhood and the Free Black Male of the 19th Century 137
Recommendations for Further Study 175
Bibliography 183
Index 189
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