Black feminist anthropology: theory, politics, praxis, and by Irma McClaurin

By Irma McClaurin

Within the discipline's early days, anthropologists through definition have been assumed to be white and male. ladies and black students have been relegated to the field's outer edge. From this marginal position, white feminist anthropologists have effectively carved out an said highbrow house, pointed out as feminist anthropology. regrettably, the works of black and non-western feminist anthropologists are hardly mentioned, and so they haven't begun to be revered as major shapers of the path and transformation of feminist anthropology. during this quantity, Irma McClaurin has collected-for the 1st time-essays that discover the function and contributions of black feminist anthropologists. She has requested her members to reveal how their stories as black girls have prompted their anthropological perform in Africa, the Caribbean, and the us, and the way anthropology has motivated their improvement as black feminists. each bankruptcy is a designated trip that permits the reader to work out how students are made. The writers current fabric from their very own fieldwork to illustrate how those stories have been formed by means of their identities. ultimately, every one essay indicates how the author's box reviews have prompted the theoretical and methodological offerings she has made all through her occupation. no longer considering the fact that Diane Wolf's Feminist Dilemmas within the box or Hortense Powdermaker's Stranger and good friend have we had this kind of breadth of ladies anthropologists discussing the serious (and own) matters that emerge whilst doing ethnographic study.

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From then until the 1980s, the number of Black women in the discipline has not moved beyond the low double digits. Despite being few in number, Black women have been an integral part of the intellectual and knowledge production traditions of American anthropology, contributing innovations in innumerable ways. This chapter illustrates how Black women anthropologists contributed to the discipline through service to the profession, while continuing a tradition of African American intellectual thought.

It is where these two approaches intersect, with their common concern for elucidating the constitution of social inequality and people’s varied responses to it, that Black feminist anthropology carves out a place. Why advance a theory of Black feminist anthropology? Because if, as R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms assert, data without theory are meaningless precisely because our understanding of data “is derived from . . [a] theoretical perspective,”27 then knowledge of the specific strategies that Black women anthropologists deploy to make sense out of their ethnographic data is crucial to our understanding their research and analysis.

Looking at poor Black women in Jamaica, Hurston writes, “women get no bonus just for being female down here. ”59 Hurston also argues that while mulatto/middleclass Jamaican women are assured of marrying men from their own social class, they, like their working-class counterparts, are subjected to the male whims of a sexual double standard. Hurston’s avowedly “feminist” perspective was unique for the times, but all of these ancestors were concerned with issues that were the order of the day for African American intellectuals.

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