Black Maternal Politics


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars


African American Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies


For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2019-2020


“Black Maternal Politics” explores post-2000 performances of black maternal citizenship in the United States, emphasizing that crisis discourse has become the primary lens through which black mothers are imagined and represented. The first half of the book explores how medicine has constructed black mothers’ bodies as sites of crisis, with new and sustained public health attention to black women’s lower breastfeeding rates and to black maternal and infant mortality. The second half of the book examines how black mothers have represented themselves and their children—in literary and visual forms—in relation to the idea of black maternal flesh as the site of racial crisis. Ultimately, this project asks how black mothers wage political work through crisis discourse and at the same time upend notions of their bodies and children as in crisis.