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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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The Production of “Emancipation”

The Production of “Emancipation”

Race, Ritual, and the Reconstitution of the Antebellum Order

(p.49) 2 The Production of “Emancipation”
Resistance Reimagined

Regis M. Fox

University Press of Florida

Elizabeth Keckly’s Behind the Scenes (1868) dislodges hegemonic models of individual sovereignty and progress, particularly as the memoir of the author’s years in the Abraham Lincoln White House underscores the harrowing conditions facing the previously enslaved at the onset of Emancipation and locates death/suicide as an expression of black political consciousness. In “The Production of ‘Emancipation’: Race, Ritual, and the Reconstitution of the Antebellum Order,” Keckly strikingly depicts epidemic black homelessness and poverty, thereby disrupting mythologies of the postbellum North as quintessential racial asylum. Keckly’s “anti-pastoral reach” as a force through which to contest teleological “up from slavery” narratives, and her politicized acts of witnessing and mediation further illuminate a reorganization, rather than an eradication, of the inhumane institution. Keckly’s selective self-commodification and her unmasking of the trope of interracial intimacy, moreover, foreground insidious if liberal modes of political control, problematizing conventional modes of fetishizing and Othering black women’s bodies.

Keywords:   Elizabeth Keckly, Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes, Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation, Suicide, Self-Commodification, Intimacy, Soveriegnty, Progress

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