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Resistance ReimaginedBlack Women's Critical Thought as Survival$
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Regis M. Fox

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056586

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056586.001.0001

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“They Won’t Believe What I Say”

“They Won’t Believe What I Say”

Theorizing Freedom as an Economy of Violence

Chapter:
(p.20) 1 “They Won’t Believe What I Say”
Source:
Resistance Reimagined
Author(s):

Regis M. Fox

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813056586.003.0002

“‘They Won’t Believe What I Say’: Theorizing Freedom as an Economy of Violence” analyzes Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig (1859) in which Wilson exposes the coerciveness of imbricated discourses of sentimentality, Christianity, and economic determinism sustaining the liberal problematic. In particular, Wilson offers a dense engagement with questions of materiality, citing it as a critical register of political meaning and experience. As Wilson implicates abstract rationalism in hierarchizing socially constructed processes of investment and exchange, she similarly reimagines dominant ideologies of self-help and self-determination in the context of working class and underclass exploitation in the antebellum U.S. North, revising governing perceptions of interracial altruism and charity. Invoking blackness, fugitivity, and associated figurations of opacity in Our Nig in order to challenge Western liberal dictates toward ocularcentrism, order, and coherence, Wilson also provocatively manipulates liberal tropes of childhood, innocence, and joy.

Keywords:   Harriet Wilson, Our Nig, Liberal Problematic, Sentimentality, Opacity, Antebellum U.S. North, Rationalism, Self-Help, Fugitivity, Materiality

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