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Rage, Resistance, and Representation

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Abstracts on women’s roles in specific race riots are invited to complete a collection tentatively entitled “Rage, Resistance, and Representation: Women in U. S. Race Riots.”

Springfield, IL (1908); East St. Louis, IL (1917); Chicago, IL (1919); Detroit, MI (1943)

This collection of essays will investigate the various active roles women, and particularly minority women, played in nineteenth- and twentieth-century race riots, paying specific attention to exposing the cultural fallacy of women’s passivity in the public realm of violence, especially in relation to the construction of racial identity and cultural race relations. At this point, the collection will include essays from the disciplines of Literature, History, Law, African American Studies, Native American Studies, and Theater. The essays focus on a wide range of riots, from Boston in 1835, to Los Angeles in 1992.

Please send 500 word abstracts by March 31 to Julie Cary Nerad at: juliecarynerad@racescholar.net

More information from the original CFP:

This project proceeds from the assumption that our historical representations and interpretations of race riots have constructed active resistance to or participation in (usually white) mob violence as primarily masculine: whenever possible, men fought to defend (reputedly or actually) their cultures, communities, and families. Women’s roles, in comparison, are remembered as primarily passive on both sides of ‘the color line’: womenâ??s bodies were protected, defended, raped, beaten, mutilated, or ignored. These dual constructions, while often accurate and productive for highlighting the gendered and sexualized violence of race riots, leave a yawning void in both our understanding of minority communities’ resistance to national, racialized forms of terrorism, and our cultural memory of white women’s role in the public domain and their engagement in ‘the race question’.?? This project will begin to fill those voids by investigating how women participated more actively, through both rhetoric and action, in race riots. While the essays in this collection should not ignore the ways that women or men were victims to (usually white) mob violence in race riots, they should primarily highlight how women actively participated in those riots.

Essays should explore the theoretical and ideological constructs (such as the lingering myth of separate spheres, perceived biological racial and/or gender difference, or the ‘cult of true womanhood’) that proscribe and silence our cultural memory of women’s participation in violent public acts in relation to race. While the essays should note the precipitating causes of the respective riots, the essays should more importantly explore the underlying cultural issues such as the control of property, the attempt to exercise various rights (such as freedom of speech or the franchise), political power or definition of the nation, etc. that ultimately fuel race riots. Essays may deal with the historical archive itself, or they may deal with fictional representations of riots in order to emphasize how women’s roles have been proscribed, lauded, condemned, etc. in the cultural imagination at different historical moments by different voices. The essays should focus on race riots rather than spectacle lynchings, as the socio-cultural dynamics of the two types of events are significantly different. Finished papers should be no longer than 10,000 words and will be due tentatively August 31, 2004.

Julie Cary Nerad, Ph.D.
Morgan State University
Department of English and Language Arts
1700 E. Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, MD 21251

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