(Un)archiving Black British Feminisms


British Citizenship, Race, and Rights - Lecture 3

Lecturer: Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert, University of Warwick

June 18, 2021


Black Feminism draws attention to the ways in which racialised, gendered and classed structures and discourses interact to position women differently in relation to white supremacist and patriarchal systems of oppression. In Britain, Black British Feminism offered not just a challenge to the white feminist theoretical claim to universal womanhood but offered a political space through which racialized women were able to develop their own political frames and build their own campaigns and struggles. In this session we consider the lessons that can be learnt from Black British Feminist theories and struggles. The session also raises some epistemological questions about what histories we have access to or not, the gap between the ‘facts of what happened’ and ‘that which is said to have happened’ (Trouillot 1995) and ways to remedy some of these gaps, by drawing on insights from a project funded by the Feminist Review Trust. While the session does not provide a detailed account of Black British Feminist thought and action, the resources listed below offer fascinating insights for Black Feminist enthusiasts.

Readings

  • Amos, Valerie, Lewis, G., Mama, A. and Parmar, P. (eds.). 'Many voices, one chant: black feminist perspectives'. Feminist Review, Autumn 1984, Issue 17.
  • Amos V, Parmar P. Challenging Imperial Feminism. Feminist Review. 1984; 17 (1): 3-19.
  • Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe (1986). Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain. Virago.
  • Carby, Hazel (1982). White woman listen! Black feminism and the boundaries of sisterhood.
  • Grewal, S., Kay, J., Landor, L., Lewis, G. and Parmar, P. (1998). Charting the Journey: Writings by Black and Third World Women. Sheba Press.
  • Jonsson, T (2016). The narrative reproduction of white feminist racism. Feminist Review 113 (1): 50-67. July 2016.
  • Mirza, Heidi Safia (1997). Black British Feminism: A Reader (eds.) Routledge.
  • Sudbury, Julia (1998). ‘Other kinds of dreams’: black women’s organisations and the politics of transformation. Routledge.
  • Swaby, Nydia (2014) “'Disparate in Voice, Sympathetic in Direction': Gendered Political Blackness and the Politics of Solidarity.” Feminist Review, no. 108: 11-25.
  • Trouillot, Michel-Rolph (2015). Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Beacon Press.
  • Watt, D. and Jones, A (2015). Catching Hell and Doing Well: Black women in the UK - the Abasindi cooperative. London: IOE Press.
  • Wilson, Amrit Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain (London: Virago, 1978)

Resources

BCA –Heart of the Race Oral Histories.

Ruckus Archive Project.

Remembering Olive Morris Collective.

George Padmore Institute.

Sisterhood and After

Questions for Discussion

  1. What can we learn from Black British feminist thought and modes of struggle?
  2. In what ways does Black British Feminist thought and activism challenge white feminist theoretical claims to universal womanhood?
  3. What Black British feminist knowledge/stories are hidden? How might we recover or access them?