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Hortense Spillers’ “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” written in , exists as a fundamental work in the discourse on race, gender, and the. Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book. Hortense J. Spillers. Diacritics, Vol. 17, No. 2, Culture and Countermemory: The. In conversation with the seminal article of Hortense Spillers, Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book, Wilderson explains that, for him.

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Moynihan observes the behavior of the black family and concludes that it is a manifestation of the backwardness of blackness generally, and the pathology of black women in particular.

Even though she gave birth to her children, they were not her own up until her running away; so in also giving them what is seen as the opposite of birth deathshe is reinstating her authority as their parent and reclaiming them as her own and not at the disposal of the master.

Reflections on Hortense Spillers: “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe” – The Liminal Space

What does everyone else think? However, the problem is not that we do not know this history, but rather we mamw not dealt with it theoretically, and even in the most likely 3 Ibid, To proceed with Spillers argument means not taking for granted concepts like American as being fixed, but being willing to think critically about how identities are formed through complex articulations of power and meaning.

Notify me of new posts via email. In the spirit of black feminism, though its ensemble of questions cannot help me here, I must occasion an explanation spillerrs black positionality that accounts for the manner of existential negation and the modes of violence which position me, moving beyond the concerns with black patriarchy.

In retrospect, the work of Frank Wilderson, III also appeared at a very critical moment in my development, both as a thinker and as a black woman engaged in organizing around issues affecting the black community on campus as well as back home. This is not to say that afropessimism does not hold the potential to speak to the effect of antiblackness on gender. Paul D is an interesting character, because he does serve as a father role for a while, but their family dynamic still seems matriarchal, as Sethe seems to still make most of the decisions in the house and Denver and Beloved only listen to her.


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The Baby Doe Rules: Through naming typical stereotypes ascribed to black women, Spillers begins to refute the negative perceptions ascribed to the black family and black familial matriarchal structure asserted throughout the Moynihan Report. I do not aim to fill the chasm here, but only to make the conceptual leap and let the matter remain unresolved so that we might titter on the edge and engage further with the black gender problematic.

Can They Be Met? Coakley – – Oxford University Press.

Hortense Spillers

Inas the whites-only Miss America Pageant was being held, two warring protests were making two very divergent statements against the Miss America Pageant. Analytic Philosophy and the Question of Tolerance.

And so, connecting to my project, in thinking of the ways in which state violence can be justified against black women in ways that are different mamq violence against other women of color, one must not simply look at the modern era.

This article has no associated abstract. Spillers was writing to a moment in history where the importance of black women in critical theory was being denied. Fils-Aime – – Griot: Retrieved March 19, The report’s relation between black men and black women leads to an ungendering of both sexes, as black sexes become interchangeable rather than distinct. This site uses cookies. Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory.


Afropessimist thought resonated deeply because it spoke to the terrifying truths of antiblack racism, black structural positionality and black life, corroborating my own experience but more importantly providing the language and a framework through which to approach a more thorough explanation of this experience theoretically.

Next Post Research Update: As the origins of the slave trade, and the displacement of African-Americans, Spillers discovers that the absence of the domestic sphere and the importance of the female was never fully recovered even after the middle passage, when women were still deprived of their abilities to operate within the feminine sphere by being deprived of both home and children.

The ability of blacks to form a concept of themselves, where the white is always the subject, is one of the many ensuing effects of being taken from Africa, which is, literally, a theft of the body. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here How is she distinctively invoking signifying here?

Click here to sign up. The black subject, to achieve success in a white-centered culture, must adapt a patriarchy in order to do so, at least that is the argument that suffocates black females from taking part in any power structure. The black family is differentiable from the white family through this report’s bahy that black families are impoverished due to the manner in which they dissolve the typical white family structure.

New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. Paul Bloom – – Behavioral maka Brain Sciences 21 1: Giorgio Sandri – – In D.