Call for papers Women and Performance, A journal of feminist theory: « Sentiment and Sentience: Black Performance since Scenes of Subjection » – deadline: 16 janvier 2016

Sentiment and Sentience: Black Performance since Scenes of Subjection

Issue Guest Editors:

Sampada Aranke (Assistant Professor, The History & Theory of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Art Institute)
Nikolas Oscar Sparks (PhD Candidate, English, Duke University)

Submission Deadline: January 15, 2016

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, "De Las Dos Aguas," 2007. 12 Polaroid Polacolor Pro, 20 X 24 in. Photographs courtesy of the Art Appreciation Foundation

“It is important to remember that blackness is defined here in terms of social relationality rather than identity; thus blackness incorporates subjects normatively defined as black, the relations among blacks, whites, and others, and the practices that produce racial difference. Blackness marks a social relationship of dominance and abjection and potentially one of redress and emancipation; it is a contested figure at the very center of social struggle.”

—Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection, 56–57

Since its 1997 publication, Saidiya Hartman’s Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America has proven to be a scandal, unsettling the claims of recuperative studies that hinge upon sentimentality to understand a distinctive break between the horrors of chattel and the jubilee of emancipation. Instead, Hartman suggests that the historical continuity between slavery and Reconstruction can best be traced through the black body, which itself inhabited and performed the very relations of freedom and violence calcified by racism within liberal humanist frameworks. From the slave coffle to the pastoral landscape to the courtroom, these sites stage the quotidian and spectacular scenes of violence against enslaved and freed black people. Crucial to Hartman’s project is how black corporeality throws the subject position of the autonomous individual (liberal humanism’s desired ideal) into crisis. This crisis appears through a series of juridical and social performances that destabilize and eventually reinscribe the captive’s status as a being vacated of sentience. The performing black female body demystifies how this particular formulation of the subject denies the recurring violences enacted against her flesh. Hartman’s analytic of black performance reveals the enduring violences of the chattel system, and its particular constraints on black female embodiment and performances of self-possession.




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