Mia E. Bay, Farah J. Griffin, Martha S. Jones, and Barbara Savage, eds.Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women

University of North Carolina Press, 2015

by Lilian Calles Barger on July 26, 2015

View on Amazon

Mia Bay is a professor of history at Rutgers University, and Director of the Center for Race and Ethnicity. She is co-editor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina, 2015). Bay and her co-authors have brought together a strikingly good collection of fifteen essays that presents us with a sampling of a neglected field of thought. All focus on black women of the diaspora in North America, the Caribbean and Africa as subjects of critical thought and articulators of ideas on a wide variety of subjects. The authors demonstrate how black women lived and thought at the intersection of both race and gender. As a distinct field, the growth of black women's intellectual history has suffered from several handicaps including resistance within the field of intellectual history. As Black men are often the focus as defenders of their race, black women are often portrayed as activists; doers rather than thinkers. The informal nature of much of black women's thought, the lack of formal education and the use of religious language makes them appear as inarticulate in matters of racial and gender politics. The scarcity of written texts, particularly for the eighteen-century and much of the nineteenth, renders constructing a history of black women's thought a project akin to archeology; a limitation the writers readily take up as a challenge. The authors appeal to social history influencing the wider acceptance of non-elite thought, and feminist scholarship as bringing attention to the field as worthy of study. The fifteen essays cover a range of topics including religion, challenges to race science, the meaning of black women's bodies, respectability, political theory, and feminism. The entire collection is an excellent source and a promising movement toward constructing a transnational history of black women's thought.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Emran El-BadawiThe Qur’an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions

July 17, 2015

The Qur'an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions (Routledge, 2013) written by Emran El-Badawi, professor and director of the Arab Studies program at the University of Houston, is a recent addition to the field of research on the Qur'an and Aramaic and Syriac biblical texts. Professor El-Badawi asserts that the Qur'an is a product of an environment […]

Read the full article →

Barry AllenVanishing into Things: Knowledge in Chinese Tradition

July 17, 2015

What is knowledge, why is it valuable, and how might it be cultivated? Barry Allen's new book carefully considers the problem of knowledge in a range of Chinese philosophical discourses, creating a stimulating cross-disciplinary dialogue that's as much of a pleasure to read as it will be to teach with. Taking on the work of […]

Read the full article →

Nancy FraserTransnationalizing the Public Sphere (Polity, 2014)

July 8, 2015

How is "the public sphere" best conceptualized on a transnational scale? Nancy Fraser (The New School for Social Research) explores this pressing question in her book Transnationalizing the Public Sphere (Polity, 2014). Opening with Fraser's foundational essay, "Transnationalizing the Public Sphere: On the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Public Opinion in a Post-Westphalian World," the book […]

Read the full article →

Meredith K. RayDaughters of Alchemy: Women and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy

July 8, 2015

According to sixteenth-century writer Moderata Fonte, the untapped potential of women to contribute to the liberal arts was "buried gold." Exploring the work of Fonte and that of many other incredible women, Meredith K. Ray's new book explores women's contributions to the landscape of scientific culture in early modern Italy from about 1500 to 1623. […]

Read the full article →

Kocku von StuckradThe Scientification of Religion: An Historical Study of Discursive Change, 1800-2000

July 6, 2015

Science and religion are often paired as diametric opposites. However, the boundaries of these two fields were not always as clear as they seem to be today. In The Scientification of Religion: An Historical Study of Discursive Change, 1800-2000 (De Gruyter, 2014), Kocku von Stuckrad, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, demonstrates how […]

Read the full article →

James A. SecordVisions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age

July 3, 2015

James A. Secord's new book is both deeply enlightening and a pleasure to read. Emerging from the 2013 Sandars Lectures in Bibliography at the Cambridge University Library, Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is a fascinating exploration of books and their readers during […]

Read the full article →

Gary WilderFreedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World

June 28, 2015

Gary Wilder's new book, Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World (Duke University Press, 2015) builds upon the work he began in The French Imperial Nation State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars (University of Chicago Press, 2005). Freedom Time considers the politics and poetics of Aimé Césaire and […]

Read the full article →

M. Alper YalcinkayaLearned Patriots: Debating Science, State, and Society in the 19th-Century Ottoman Empire

June 15, 2015

What were Ottomans talking about when they talked about science? In posing and answering that question (spoiler: they were talking about people), M. Alper Yalcinkaya's new book Learned Patriots: Debating Science, State, and Society in the 19th-Century Ottoman Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2015) introduces the history of science as discussed and debated by nineteenth-century Turkish-speaking Muslim […]

Read the full article →

Simon A. Wood and David Harrington Watt, ed.sFundamentalism: Perspectives on a Contested History

June 8, 2015

In the past few decades, radical fundamentalists have become a major force in the global world. Or at least that what we often here in media outlets or from politicians and religious figures. But what exactly does 'fundamentalism' mean? Does this category point to something specific and exclude phenomena that falls outside the intended use […]

Read the full article →