Date

5-4-2020

Description

Historians of black liberation movements have written on the meanings of freedom for disenfranchised and seemingly powerless black women who have successfully confronted powerful states, and in the process, transformed their societies (Brooks 2008). Yet, these discussions often neglect the international punitive systems that criminalize black womanhood. The women at the forefront of the global black freedom struggles of the mid-twentieth century knew there was something at stake in resisting racialized systems of oppression. By exploring the expressions of freedom for incarcerated women in the United States and South Africa, this presentation seeks to illustrate the transnational linkages between black women's subjectivities. This presentation will draw upon a range of methodological techniques. The textual sources employed in this project will connect prison writings, poetry, prison correspondence, and memory to understand the lives of two women: Ericka Huggins, who was imprisoned in Connecticut from 1969-1971 and Theresa Ramashamola, who was imprisoned in Pretoria from 1984-1991. These women, though separated geographically, temporally, and spatially across the global black freedom struggle, are emblematic of the international network of black liberation activists whose efforts transcended national geographic borders. The purpose of this presentation is to seek an understanding of the meaning of freedom for imprisoned black women as depicted in their prison writings. If prisons are designed to disrupt liberation movements and suppress messages of freedom behind prison bars, what would it mean, then, to understand how prison narratives provide insight into compounding systems of oppression which inform their articulations of freedom.

Share

COinS
 
May 4th, 12:00 AM

"A Bird Taking Flight Without Wings": Imprisoned Black Women's Articulations of Freedom in the United States and South Africa

Historians of black liberation movements have written on the meanings of freedom for disenfranchised and seemingly powerless black women who have successfully confronted powerful states, and in the process, transformed their societies (Brooks 2008). Yet, these discussions often neglect the international punitive systems that criminalize black womanhood. The women at the forefront of the global black freedom struggles of the mid-twentieth century knew there was something at stake in resisting racialized systems of oppression. By exploring the expressions of freedom for incarcerated women in the United States and South Africa, this presentation seeks to illustrate the transnational linkages between black women's subjectivities. This presentation will draw upon a range of methodological techniques. The textual sources employed in this project will connect prison writings, poetry, prison correspondence, and memory to understand the lives of two women: Ericka Huggins, who was imprisoned in Connecticut from 1969-1971 and Theresa Ramashamola, who was imprisoned in Pretoria from 1984-1991. These women, though separated geographically, temporally, and spatially across the global black freedom struggle, are emblematic of the international network of black liberation activists whose efforts transcended national geographic borders. The purpose of this presentation is to seek an understanding of the meaning of freedom for imprisoned black women as depicted in their prison writings. If prisons are designed to disrupt liberation movements and suppress messages of freedom behind prison bars, what would it mean, then, to understand how prison narratives provide insight into compounding systems of oppression which inform their articulations of freedom.