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Black feminist anthropology : theory, politics, praxis, and poetics /

Other Authors: McClaurin, Irma.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Rutgers University Press, 2001
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In the discipline's early days, anthropologists by definition were assumed to be white and male. Women and black scholars were relegated to the field's periphery. From this marginal place, white feminist anthropologists have successfully carved out an acknowledged intellectual space, identified as feminist anthropology. Unfortunately, the works of black and non-western feminist anthropologists are rarely cited, and they have yet to be respected as significant shapers of the direction and transformation of feminist anthropology.

In this volume, Irma McClaurin has collected-for the first time-essays that explore the role and contributions of black feminist anthropologists. She has asked her contributors to disclose how their experiences as black women have influenced their anthropological practice in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States, and how anthropology has influenced their development as black feminists. Every chapter is a unique journey that enables the reader to see how scholars are made. The writers present material from their own fieldwork to demonstrate how these experiences were shaped by their identities. Finally, each essay suggests how the author's field experiences have influenced the theoretical and methodological choices she has made throughout her career.

Not since Diane Wolf's Feminist Dilemmas in the Field or Hortense Powdermaker's Stranger and Friend have we had such a breadth of women anthropologists discussing the critical (and personal) issues that emerge when doing ethnographic research.


Johnnetta B. ColeIrma McClaurinA. Lynn BollesIrma McClaurinKimberly Eison SimmonsCarolyn Martin ShawKarla SlocumAngela M. GilliamCheryl MwariaPaulla A. EbronCheryl Rooriguez
Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
Introduction: Forging a Theory, Politics, Praxis, and Poetics of Black Feminist Anthropologyp. 1
1Seeking the Ancestors: Forging a Black Feminist Tradition in Anthropologyp. 24
2Theorizing a Black Feminist Self in Anthropology: Toward an Autoethnographic Approachp. 49
3A Passion for Sameness: Encountering a Black Feminist Self in Fieldwork in the Dominican Republicp. 77
4Disciplining the Black Female Body: Learning Feminism in Africa and the United Statesp. 102
5Negotiating Identity and Black Feminist Politics in Caribbean Researchp. 126
6A Black Feminist Perspective on the Sexual Commodification of Women in the New Global Culturep. 150
7Biomedical Ethics, Gender, and Ethnicity: Implications for Black Feminist Anthropologyp. 187
8Contingent Stories of Anthropology, Race, and Feminismp. 211
9A Homegirl Goes Home: Black Feminism and the Lure of Native Anthropologyp. 233
Contributorsp. 259
Indexp. 265

Review by Choice Review

This refreshing and inspiring collection of nine articles and a superb introduction seeks to come to terms with, if not resolve, the triple contradictions found in the title. Treating topics as wide-ranging as the Tuskeegee syphilis study; the grotesque exploitation of Sarah Baartman, the "Hottentot Venus"; and contemporary ethnographic fieldwork in the US, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Gambia, and elsewhere, the combined articles address the history of anthropology, comparative feminism in Africa and the US, global sexual commodification, biomedical ethics, the Jim Crow contexts of conducting research, and what is known as "native anthropology." Each author brings personal experiences of racism, sexism, and other challenges to bear on what are without exception successful examples of what C. Wright Mills called "the sociological imagination," where biography, intellectual activity, and activism are presented as a seamless whole. This book succeeds in going beyond Mills's vision in unparalleled ways. As Spelman College President Emerita and anthropologist Johnnetta Cole states in the foreword, despite the challenges that blackness and feminism bring to anthropology, the field "is clearly better off" because of these articles and the critiques they embody. All levels and collections. K. S. Fine-Dare Fort Lewis College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Irma Mcclaurin is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida

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