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The Course of Black Women's Intellectual History

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Lauren Kientz Anderson

on 7 March 2013

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Transcript of The Course of Black Women's Intellectual History

Lauren Kientz Anderson
February 2013 A Void Except Explosion! Bringing the Civil Rights Movement and the
Women's Movement into the academy. But what about black
women's intellectual history? A Black Woman's History Darlene Clark Hine My work, examples The beginning of race and gender
in US Intellectual history
NOTHING or was it?
assumptions: Black men scholars
and white women scholars But..... Together not yet Accommodation and Protest Black women didn't enter
history as a profession till later Bonnie Smith: "Only in the world of disinterested contemplation--a world necessarily separate from emotional, subjective women, whose concerns hovered around the quotidian--could real history--that of wars, politics, and important men--be written. Professionalization was, therefore, a means of exclusion. It was gendered male and, by and large, raced white." Anna Julia Cooper, Ph.D. Sorbonne
"The Attitude of France on the Question of Slavery Between 1789 and 1848" 1954 1964 John Hope Franklin in the NY Times, 1968: "In recent months virtually every organization working for the advancement of Negro Americans, whether militant, moderate or in between, has demanded a more adequate treatment of Negro Americans in books and courses dealing with the history of the United States. ... This whole phenomenon is as much a part of the Negro revolt as the demand for equality in other areas."
No women were mentioned in the article, as authors or subjects Central Questions:
What is historiography?
What is intellectual history?
Who is black?
How have black women changed the historiography of U.S. Intellectual History?
How does my work intersect with these trends? Painter, 1997: "I showed her as a person whose individual psychology counts alongside her role as a symbol. But many people just want a symbol, unchanging and undisturbed by psychological development. " 1980 Revelation
1989: Culture of dissemblance Plus: A decline in Intellectual History 1933 “Indeed, whatever topics we were drawn to, everyone who taught women’s history perforce became an intellectual historian. We had to ask what different generations had meant by the terms they used: how they had conceptualized the categories of male and female, man and woman, or how the meaning of the term ‘feminism’ itself had changed over the course of the century.” Black Internationalism “The negroes themselves show the same easy-going, amiable, serio-comic obedience and the same personal attachments to white men, as well as the same sturdy light-heartedness and the same love of laughter and of rhythm, which distinguished their forebears.” ... “The climate in fact not only discourages but prohibits mental effort of severe or sustained character, and the negroes have submitted to that prohibition as to many others, through countless generations, with excellent grace.” “Few inquired into his antecedents, but many welcomed the race-conscious, assertive, race-proud New Negro, who was ‘digging up his past,’ achieving middle-class status and creating an artistic expression of his separate group life while aiming at integration into American society.” “Merely to use the term ‘Black Women’s studies’ is an act charged with political significance. At the very least, the combining of these words to name a discipline means taking the stance that Black women exist—and exist positively—a stance that is in direct opposition to most of what passes for culture and thought on the North American continent. To use the term and to act on it in a white-male world is an act of political courage.” 2011 The Course of Black Women's
Intellectual History "Black women intellectuals have laid a vital analytical foundation for a distinctive standpoint on self, community, and society and, in doing so, created a multifaceted, African-American women’s intellectual tradition.” How have black women redefined U.S. Intellectual History? 1. Adding women 2. In conversation with the insights of black women's intellectual history
Patricia Hill Collins: All black "women's intellectual work has aimed to foster Black activism."
Claudia Tate and Nell Irvin Painter: Race and Individuality
Erik McDuffie: Radical black feminists 1982 1990, 2000 1929 Necessity of race, class, and gender analysis (intersectionality)
Redefined what it means to be an intellectual
Inextricable link between ideas and praxis Universalism and Particularism of African American women 1970-1997 Alice Walker:
"Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to get attention we do, except walk?
"I never truly notice nothing God make. Not a blade of corn (how it do that?) not the color purple (where it come from?). Not the little wildflowers. Nothing." Not only did the conference offer an opportunity for attendees to engage with work attempting to reclaim historically marginalized voices and topics, it also argued for the history of black women to be examined with the same rigor and seriousness afforded to other intellectual traditions.
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