Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

by Barbara Thompson (Editor)


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Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body by Barbara Thompson

Explorations of contemporary art have focused on issues of identity and race for some time. Few, however, have sought to investigate these themes by juxtaposing historical and contemporary frameworks. Black Womanhood examines an especially charged icon--the black female body--and contemporary artists' interventions upon historical images of black women as exotic Others, erotic fantasies, and supermaternal Mammies.

This book presents icons of the black female body as seen from three separate but intersecting perspectives: the traditional African, the colonial, and the contemporary global. The display and contemplation of such iconic images addresses complex and often competing forces of self-presentation and the representation of others. Peeling back layers of social, cultural, and political realities, Black Womanhood explores how historic icons inform contemporary artistic responses to the black female body through an examination of themes such as beauty, fertility and sexuality, maternity, and women's roles and power in society.

More than 200 historical and contemporary images accompany written contributions by artists, curators and scholars. This compelling volume makes a valuable contribution to ongoing discussions of race, gender, and sexuality by promoting a deeper understanding of past and present readings of black womanhood, both in Africa and in the West.

University of Washington Press

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295987705
Publisher: University of Washington Press and Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College
Publication date: 03/26/2008
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 12.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Barbara Thompson is curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American collections at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. The other contributors are Ifi Amadiume, Ayo Abietou Coly, Christraud Geary, Enid Schildkrout, Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, Carla Williams, and Deborah Willis.

University of Washington Press

Table of Contents

Lenders to the ExhibitionForeword / Brian P. KennedyAcknowledgments / Barbara ThompsonIntroduction / Barbara Thompson

Part I. Iconic Ideologies of Womanhood: African Cultural Perspectives1. The African Female Body in the Cultural Imagination / Barbara Thompson2. African Women's Body Images in Postcolonial Discourse and Resistance to Neo-Crusaders / Ifi Amadiume3. Les Parisiens d'Afrique: Mangbetu Women as Works of Art / Enid SchildkroutPlates

Part II. Colonizing Black Women: The Western Imaginary4. The Black Female Body, the Postcard, and the Archives / Christraud Geary5. The Body of a Myth: Embodying the Black Mammy Figure in Visual Culture / Kimberly Wallace-SandersPlates

Part III. Meaning and Identity: Personal Journeys into Black Womanhood6. Picturing the New Negro Woman / Deborah Willis7. The Women Who Posed: Maudelle Bass and Florence Allen / Carla Williams8. Housing and Homing the Black Female Body in France: Clixthe Beyala and the Legacy of Sarah Baartman and Josephine Backer / Ayo Abiétou Coly9. Decolonizing Black Bodies: Personal Journeys in the Contemporary Voice / Barbara ThompsonPlates


University of Washington Press

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