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Slavery and Resistance—Using Literature to Resist Eurocentric Hegemony (Thought and Behavior)

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Abstract:

To speak of resistance is to speak of language. To speak of language is to speak of voice and silence—those who have voice and those who are forced to silence. A number of early African American writers, abolitionists, have used the symbolic and signifying practice of language to create voice and combat the denigration of African people. According to Black, the mask “exposes black writers as ‘mask manipulators’ and ‘double talkers…” Phyllis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Frances W. Harper don the mask and provide new conceptualizations and interpretations of what it means to transition from enslavement to freedom. These authors are in no way exhaustive of the contributions of African people to the Eurocentric hegemonic discourse, but they provide a glimpse into the revised hermeneutics of African American experience and expression. Each author uses language and the literary tradition to upset binary oppositions, to highlight the discrepancy between white perceptions and African realities, and to confront African American destructive behaviors (slave syndrome, flawed morality). Each writer’s resistance, often masked and sometimes overt, sets precedence for the resistance seen today by such scholars as Cheikh Anta Diop, Asa Hilliard, Amos Wilson, Frances Cress Welsing, Neely Fuller, Marimba Ani. Through their cautious and confrontational unveiling of racist practices, Africans/African Americans have begun to see the flaw in Eurocentric thought and to critique it in order to debunk destructive practices; it is through reading, writing and speaking that Africans have begun to reclaim their subjectivity and agency.

Author's Keywords:

African, African American, Slavery, Resistance, Language, Literature
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Association:
Name: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p206947_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Jefferson, Antonette. "Slavery and Resistance—Using Literature to Resist Eurocentric Hegemony (Thought and Behavior)" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Atlanta Hilton, Charlotte, NC, Oct 02, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p206947_index.html>

APA Citation:

Jefferson, A. , 2007-10-02 "Slavery and Resistance—Using Literature to Resist Eurocentric Hegemony (Thought and Behavior)" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Atlanta Hilton, Charlotte, NC <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p206947_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Paper
Abstract: To speak of resistance is to speak of language. To speak of language is to speak of voice and silence—those who have voice and those who are forced to silence. A number of early African American writers, abolitionists, have used the symbolic and signifying practice of language to create voice and combat the denigration of African people. According to Black, the mask “exposes black writers as ‘mask manipulators’ and ‘double talkers…” Phyllis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Frances W. Harper don the mask and provide new conceptualizations and interpretations of what it means to transition from enslavement to freedom. These authors are in no way exhaustive of the contributions of African people to the Eurocentric hegemonic discourse, but they provide a glimpse into the revised hermeneutics of African American experience and expression. Each author uses language and the literary tradition to upset binary oppositions, to highlight the discrepancy between white perceptions and African realities, and to confront African American destructive behaviors (slave syndrome, flawed morality). Each writer’s resistance, often masked and sometimes overt, sets precedence for the resistance seen today by such scholars as Cheikh Anta Diop, Asa Hilliard, Amos Wilson, Frances Cress Welsing, Neely Fuller, Marimba Ani. Through their cautious and confrontational unveiling of racist practices, Africans/African Americans have begun to see the flaw in Eurocentric thought and to critique it in order to debunk destructive practices; it is through reading, writing and speaking that Africans have begun to reclaim their subjectivity and agency.

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