Critical Perspectives on Heritage from Below
Edited by Hamzah Muzaini and Claudio Minca
Chapter 6: Unfinished geographies: women’s roles in shaping Black historical counter narratives
Drawing upon Katherine McKittrick’s classic text Demonic Grounds (2006) and other critical race and Black geographies literature, this chapter analyses the powerful ways that women – primarily Black women – shape public memory and historical interpretation of Black History in the United States, challenging the dominant narratives of slavery (typically White and male) through activism, employment and media portrayals. By empirically examining a variety of sources, from women in filmic and media portrayals of slavery, to a high-profile Twitter user and Southern plantation tourism guides, the authors seek to provide insight into one of McKittrick’s major questions: ‘What kinds of new and possible spaces are made available through our past geographic epochs?’ Applying this question to public memory and historical interpretation of the slavery system, this chapter argues that as these women advance counter narratives of chattel slavery, they challenge and call into question normative geographic orders driven by patriarchy, racism and class.
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