Activist-mothers maybe, sisters surely? Black British feminism, absence and transformation

Anim-Addo, Joan. 2014. Activist-mothers maybe, sisters surely? Black British feminism, absence and transformation. Feminist Review, 108(1), pp. 44-60. ISSN 0141-7789 [Article]

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This article, drawing on selected feminist magazines of the 1980s, particularly Feminist Arts News (FAN) and GEN, offers a textual ‘braiding’ of narratives to re-present a history of Black British feminism. I attempt to chart a history of Black British feminist inheritance while proposing the politics of (other)mothering as a politics of potential, pluralistic and democratic community building, where Black thought and everyday living carry a primary and participant role. The personal—mothering our children—is the political, affording a nurturing of alterity through a politics of care that is fundamentally antiracist and antisexist. I attempt to show how Black feminist thought can significantly contribute to democracy in the present and how Black British history and thought, as fundamentally antiracist and anticolonial, can generate a reinvention much needed in the present of a shared British history. I argue for feminist intervention premised upon a politics of care, addressing through activist mothering the urgency of Black absence from prestigious institutions. Such debilitating absence in Britain inhibits the development of scholarship, distorts feminist history and seriously concerns potential Black feminists. From diverse texts, I develop a genealogical narrative supplemented through memory work. This ‘gathering and re-using’ privileges Black women’s theorising as a crucial component of the methodological métissage, which includes auto-theorising to develop ideas of resemblance in relation to Black British feminism and feminist kinship. The resultant ‘braiding’, I suggest after Lionnet, questions the absence of intersubjective spaces for reflection on Black British feminist praxis, indicating a direction for British feminists of all complexions. Attentive to the 1980s as historical context while invoking the maternal, I consider what is required to engage generationally, counterwrite the academy and pursue a dynamic process of transformation within a transnational feminism that challenges Black British absence from academic knowledge production, while nurturing its presence.

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Additional Information:

Special Issue, Black British Feminisms


Black British, Black feminism, (other)mothering, kinship, history, care

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature
English and Comparative Literature > Centre for Caribbean Studies


14 November 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

06 Dec 2018 10:09

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2018 10:18

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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