Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

Barbara Thompson, Editor, Ifi Amadiume, Essay by, Ayo Abietou Coly, Essay by . Univ. of Washington $75 (374p) ISBN 978-0-295-98771-2

Accompanying the eponymous exhibit at Dartmouth College's Hood Museum, this collection of essays is as richly insightful as it is beautifully produced. Eight contributors analyze representations of black women from “separate but intersecting perspectives: the traditional African, the colonial, and the contemporary global.” Accessible essays and artist commentaries are interleaved among 128 color plates. Thompson's essay opens with the black female “body on display” in Europe and moves to the recovery of “traditional African ideologies of womanhood,” setting the stage for Ifi Amadiume's examination of “traditional African art practices” and Enid Schildkrout's demonstration of cross-cultural exchange. Investigating western “colonizations” and imaginings of black women, Kimberly Wallace-Sanders's analysis of “representations of Mammy” shifts the ground to the United States, and Deborah Willis considers how photographs from black family albums between the 1890s and 1940s countered racist images in popular culture. Thompson's closing meditation leads the reader back to the “new, thought-provoking and often confrontational images of an empowered and outspoken black female presence” at the heart of this exhibit. The originality of the images and interpretations make this catalogue essential to understanding how fully clothed the unclothed body truly is. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 374 pages - 978-0-295-98770-5
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