Gender and the Abjection of Blackness
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An anti-racist critique of gender studies as a field.
In Gender and the Abjection of Blackness, Sabine Broeck argues that gender studies as a mostly white field has taken insufficient account of Black contributions, and that more than being an ethnocentric limitation or blind spot, this has represented a structural anti-Blackness in the field. Engaging with the work of Black feminist authors Sylvia Wynter, Hortense Spillers, and Saidiya Hartman, Broeck critiques a selection of canonical white gender studies texts to make this case. The book discusses this problem at the core of gender theory as a practice which Broeck terms enslavism—the ongoing abjection of Black life which Hartman has called the afterlife of slavery. This has become manifest in the repetitive employment of the "woman as slave" metaphor so central to gender theory, as well as in recent theoretical mutations of these anti-Black politics of analogy. It is the structural separation of Blackness from gender that has functioned over and again as the scaffold enabling white women's struggles for successful recognition of equality and subjectivity in the human world as we know it. This book challenges white readers to rethink their own untroubled identification with gender theory, and it provides all readers with a white feminist theorist's sophisticated theoretical and self-critical scholarly account of her own reckoning with and learning in dialogue from Black feminism's critique.
Sabine Broeck is Professor of American Studies at the University of Bremen, Germany. She is the coeditor of several books, including (with Jason R. Ambroise) Black Knowledges/Black Struggles: Essays in Critical Epistemology.
"Broeck draws on a wide range of experience to provide a frame for rethinking gender as category that can work towards something like Black freedom. Most importantly, Black theoretical insights in this work move beyond intervention to offer a whole new way of being, and the author grapples with the new conceptual terrain she is now occupying. " — Rinaldo Walcott, author of Queer Returns: Essays on Multiculturalism, Diaspora, and Black Studies