Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2024

Document Type

M.A. Essay

First Advisor

Ayo A. Coly

Second Advisor

Vievee Francis


Despite the progression of contemporary discourses around gender, the African woman's body remains in a categorical conundrum shaped by post-colonial legacies. This paper explores how prevailing notions of femininity and its intrinsic relationship to delicateness, exclude black women from the female category. Given the significance gender plays in participation in the occident, black women's preclusion from the female category can result in what may appear on the surface as a posturing of whiteness, but which, on further interrogation, reflects a performance of fragility. On the other extreme is the embrace of androgyny as both an internalization and a way to subvert the white gaze - which does little to differentiate the black woman from the black man, or black people as a whole from an extension of labour. I aim to dissect the essential roles androgyny performs for black women in predominantly white spaces. Namely: how androgyny acts as an internalization of gender ambiguity; as well as a subversive response to imposition; but most observably as a means of participation. The internalization of liminality as an embodied experience relies upon a more introspective narrative form to decode. As such through self-examination and a critical view of the discography of Grace Jones, I will be employing a standpoint epistemological approach which hybridizes the creative form with academic inquiry to bridge the space between creative and academic forms. Given that my subject emphasizes the colonial gaze and its role in shaping the black body, I intend to redirect the gaze - to invert the discovery process by positioning myself as an essential and credible source in conversation with the imaging of Grace Jones.

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