Hortense Spillers’ “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” written in , exists as a fundamental work in the discourse on race, gender, and the. Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book. Hortense J. Spillers. Diacritics, Vol. 17, No. 2, Culture and Countermemory: The. In conversation with the seminal article of Hortense Spillers, Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book, Wilderson explains that, for him.

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You are commenting using your WordPress. And so, connecting to my project, in thinking of the ways in which state violence can be justified against black women in ways that are different from violence against other women of color, one must hotrense simply look at the modern era.

How is she distinctively invoking signifying here? I think that is one of the main points of her essay: David Morley – – Continuum. Thus, while the temporal frame of chattel slavery to modern day is a broad one, differential experiences of state violence against different groups of women of color cannot be addressed without discussing chattel slavery.

Reflections on Hortense Spillers: “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe” – The Liminal Space

The Baby Doe Rules: In that regard, the names by which I am called in the public place render an example of signifying property plus. English Department, Vanderbilt University. Paul Bloom – – Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 1: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here In my view, black political thought lags here, unable to describe its condition without relegating the particularities of the female black to the abyss.

From the Publisher via CrossRef no proxy jstor. Spillers supports an argument for the necessity of this work in building a more robust theoretical foundation for black political thought, and afropessimism could be our point of departure.

Reflections on Hortense Spillers: “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe”

Even though she gave birth to her children, they were not her own up until her running away; so in also giving them what is seen as the opposite of birth deathshe is reinstating her authority as their parent and reclaiming them as her own and not at the disposal of the master. Moynihan links all of these ‘deficiencies’ in relation to typical conceptions of the American family with the breakdown of the black race, leading to an “increase in welfare dependency” [7].


They are basing it all off of what they consider to be normative instead of allowing people to formulate their own identity. Can They Be Met? We see her lose some of her sacredness when she is violated by the nephews, and then we see the loss of motherhood that drives her to have to kill her children in order to keep them as her own and away from slavery.

Duke University Press, Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link. Science Logic and Splilers.

After suggesting that this lineage removes African Americans from patriarchal gender and places them outside of family, she concludes by suggesting that men and women descended from this situation might be well positioned to overturn patriarchy, not by joining the ranks of normative gender but by operating from the androgynous “boundary” 74 where they have been placed—that is, by black men’s saying “‘yes’ to the ‘female’ within” and by black women “claiming the monstrosity of a female with the power to name” Moynihan observes the behavior of the black family and concludes that it is a manifestation of the backwardness of blackness generally, and the pathology of black women in particular.

In a interview entitled, “Whatcha Gonna Do? That is, it reduces the Slave to an object. On the underside of this equation is the fact that Africans were caught in a suspension, or a liminal, in-between space: Theoretically, antiblackness does not only lend itself to an argument against a gendered understanding of my condition, it also offers an opportunity for a more nuanced understanding of gender itself.

The only discrepancy between the two was that black women could be used as bqby objects. An Introduction to Lexicogrammar in Systemic Linguistics. You are commenting using your Twitter account. Whether slave children were robbed of their fathers when they were sold to other plantations or due to the fact that their father bxby their slave master, unable to be present in the slave child’s life, it became customary for slave children to endure distance from, the father figure.


Matriarchy does not destroy the black American family [8]. She wrote with a sense of urgency in order to create a theoretical taxonomy for black women to be studied in the academy.

The violence against the black community is rooted in violence against black women, and violence against black women includes violence against the community. For Wilderson, there is a line of recognition and incorporation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. My project is to seek answers to the questions developed here by acquiescing to the chasms in our understanding.

I think perhaps she was criticizing the idea that a family has to be a nuclear family in order to be an American family, but also showing something deeper.

Eluned Summers-Bremner – – Hypatia 15 1: What does everyone else think? The Sweet Scent of Ginger: However, the problem is not that we do not know this history, but rather we have not dealt with it theoretically, and even in the most likely 3 Ibid, In that interview Spillers shares insight into her writing process. Darwinian Realities Versus Cartesian Delusions. It goes on to convey that “there is one truly great discontinuity in family structure in the United States at the present time: Perhaps showing that though so often black families become matriarchal and there is a deep bond between women, men too have their own struggles to deal with?

Hortense Spillers

Adult behavior is learned from what is taught as a child by the family institution. One must think all the way back to the introduction of chattel slavery hortensw the construction of womanhood writ large. This site uses cookies.