Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender

SUNY Press
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In Body as Evidence, Janell Hobson challenges postmodernist dismissals of identity politics and the delusional belief that the Millennial era reflects a “postracial” and “postfeminist” world. Hobson points to diverse examples in cultural narratives, which suggest that new media rely on old ideologies in the shaping of the body politic.

Body as Evidence creates a theoretical mash-up of prose and poetry to illuminate the ways that bodies still matter as sites of political, cultural, and digital resistance. It does so by examining various representations, from popular shows like American Idol to public figures like the Obamas to high-profile cases like the Duke lacrosse rape scandal to current trends in digital culture. Hobson’s study also discusses the women who have fueled and retooled twenty-first-century media to make sense of antiracist and feminist resistance. Her discussions include the electronica of Janelle Monáe, M.I.A., and Björk; the feminist film odysseys of Wanuri Kahiu and Neloufer Pazira; and the embodied resistance found simply in raising one’s voice in song, creating a blog, wearing a veil, stripping naked, or planting a tree. Spinning knowledge out of this information overload, Hobson offers a global black feminist meditation on how our bodies mobilize, destabilize, and decolonize the meanings of race and gender in an increasingly digitized and globalized world.
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About the author

Janell Hobson is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Oct 11, 2012
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Pages
220
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ISBN
9781438444024
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / Media Studies
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Why is there no 'pro-sex' contingency in black feminist scholarship? Why do so few African-American scholars expound on issues celebrating female sexual pleasure? Perhaps the answers to these questions reside within a discursive matrix of sexual repression commonly referred to as the politics of respectability, and its rein on black sexual politics. In Erotic Revolutionaries: Black Women, Sexuality, and Popular Culture, sociologist Shayne Lee steers black sexual politics toward a more sex-positive trajectory. Introducing feminist analysis to a conceptual mZnage ^ trois of scripting theory, media representation, and black sexual politics, Lee considers the ways in which the feminist quest for social and sexual equality can delve into popular culture to see the production of subversive scripts for female sexuality and erotic agency. Whereas most feminist scholarship underscores how sexual representations of black women in media are exploitative and problematic, Lee portrays black female celebrities like Janet Jackson, BeyoncZ, Karrine Steffans, Zane, Tyra Banks, Juanita Bynum, Sheryl Underwood and many more as feminists of sorts who afford women access to cultural tools to renegotiate sexual identity and celebrate sexual agency and empowerment. Erotic Revolutionaries navigates the uncharted spaces where social constructionism, third-wave feminism, and black popular culture collide to locate a new site for sexuality studies that is theoretically innovative, politically subversive, and stylistically chic.
The ’material turn’ in critical theory - and particularly the turn towards the body coupled with scientific insights from biomedicine, biology and physics - is becoming an important path in fields of humanities-based scholarly inquiry. Material and technological philosophies play an increasingly central role in disciplines such as literary studies, cultural studies, history, performance and aesthetics, to name only a few. This edited collection of essays investigates how the material turn finds applications within humanities-based frameworks - focusing on practical reflections and disciplinary responses. It takes as its critical premise the understanding that importation of theoretical viewpoints is never straightforward; rather, a complex, sometimes even fraught, communication takes place between these disciplines at the imperceptible lines where praxis and theory meet, transforming both the landscape of practical engagement and the models of material theory. Presenting a multi- and interdisciplinary consideration of current research on the cultural relationship to living (and non-living) bodies, Corporeality and Culture: Bodies in Movement puts the body in focus. From performance and body modification to film, literature and other cultural technologies, this volume undertakes a significant speculative mapping of the current possibilities for engagement, transformation and variance of embodied movement in relation to scientifically-situated corporealities and materialities in cultural and artistic practices. Time and time again, it finds these ever-shifting modes of being to be inextricably interdependent and coextensive: movement requires embodiment; and embodiment is a form of movement.
In this second edition of the remarkable, and now classic, cultural history of black women’s beauty, Venus in the Dark, Janell Hobson explores the enduring figure of the "Hottentot Venus" and the history of critical and artistic responses to her by black women in contemporary photography, film, literature, music, and dance.

In 1810, Sara Baartman was taken from South Africa to Europe, where she was put on display at circuses, salons, museums, and universities as the "Hottentot Venus." The subsequent legacy of representations of black women’s sexuality—from Josephine Baker to Serena Williams to hip-hop and dancehall videos—refer back to her iconic image. Via a new preface, Hobson argues for the continuing influence of Baartman’s legacy, as her image still reverberates through the contemporary marketization of black women’s bodies, from popular music and pornography to advertising. A brand new chapter explores how historical echoes from previous eras map onto highly visible bodies in the twenty-first century. It analyzes fetishistic spectacles of the black "booty," with particular emphasis on the role of Beyoncé Knowles in the popularization of the "bootylicious" body, and the counter-aesthetic the singer has gone on to advance for black women’s bodies and beauty politics.

By studying the imagery of the "Hottentot Venus," from the nineteenth century to now, readers are invited to confront the racial and sexual objectification and embodied resistance that make up a significant part of black women’s experience.

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