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We find the rough beginning of this story in the dynamic and contingent scene of the early Atlantic. I say contingent because it is these early complex transatlantic (political and cultural) encounters that fundamentally shaped and shape the trajectory of modernity. At the heart of this development of modernity are constructions of race and gender. And given the contingency of history, it must be noted that, if responses to these encounters had been different, perhaps we would be living with a different modernity—maybe one with different or less harmful notions of race and gender difference.

Understanding how these conceptualizations came to be is crucial for my more specific historical analysis of Black motherhood, so I find helpful frameworks in Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic. Gilroy contributes an important narrative of modernity that complicates and resists the dominant one that aligns modern Western intellectual and cultural development with definitive nation-states.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | United States History | Women's History


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