Syllabus : Women in the African Diaspora – Fall 2022

Corine Bond/Alaso 1
Corine Bond/Alaso 1

BLST 33300-M(35032)
Women in the African Diaspora

Instructor: Fania Noel 

`Fall 2022

The City College of New York
Black Studies Program

Course Description

Women in the African Diaspora investigates the political, social, and economic experiences and conditions of Black women in the context of diaspora. This course will use global Black Feminist and Africana theories, methodologies, and scholarship to comprehend migration, the global racial and sexual division of labor, the racialization of gender but also its invention and its normalization/generalization through slavery and [neo]colonialism. This course understands the term “diaspora” both as the historical diaspora – Afro-descendants whose ancestry lies in  enslaved Black African people dispersed through North Africa, Europe, and the Americas; and the geographical diaspora – the groups circulating through forced or chosen migration from Africa all over the world. 

“We cannot, without running the risk of breaking the pan-African momentum, separate Africa from its diasporas: without Africa, the African diasporas have no identity; without the diasporas, Africa would lose sight of both the scale of its past and current contribution to our world and the global scope of its responsibilities” (M’Bokolo 2003; 6).

[Week 1: August 25] Introduction 

  • Hartman, Saidiya. “Venus in two acts.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 12.2 (2008): 1-14
  •  Palmer, Colin (2000) The African Diaspora, The Black Scholar, 30:3-4, 56-59

[Week 2: August 30 / September 1st] Gender and its Discontents

  • Oyěwùmí, Oyèrónkẹ́. The invention of women: Making an African sense of western gender discourses. U of Minnesota Press, 1997. pp. 1-30,
  • Snorton, C. Riley. Black on both sides: A racial history of trans identity. U of Minnesota Press, 2017. Chapter 1: “Anatomically speaking; Ungendered flesh and the science of sex.” in pp 17-53


  • Butler, J. 2011, “Gender is Burning,” in Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (New York: Routledge), pp. 81-99

[Week 3: September 6 & 8 ] A Feminist Grammar 

  • Collective, Combahee River. “The Combahee river collective statement.” Home girls: A Black feminist anthology 1 (1983): 264-274
  • Verna, Chantalle F., and Paulette Poujol Oriol. “The Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale: An Interview with Paulette Poujol Oriol.” Journal of Haitian Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, 2011, pp. 246–57. 
  • Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean. “Erasures and the practice of diaspora feminism.” Small Axe 9.1 (2005): 129-133.


  • Tamale, Sylvia. Decolonization and Afro-feminism. Daraja Press, 2020. The chapter  “Pan-Africanism in African Feminism” pp 369-377
  • Morrison, Toni. “What the black woman thinks about women’s lib.” New York (1971).

 [Week 4: September 13 & 15] What a Body can do? : slavery, body and flesh

  • Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s baby, papa’s maybe: An American grammar book.” The Transgender Studies Reader Remix. Routledge, 1987. 93-104
  • Prince, Mary. “The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave.” Black Writers. Routledge, 2020. 345-364.
  • Shaw, Andrea Elizabeth. The embodiment of disobedience: Fat black women’s unruly political bodies. Lexington Books, 2006.


  • Fuentes, Marisa J. “Agatha: White Women, Slave Owners, and the Dialectic of Racialized Gender.” Dispossessed Lives. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. 70-99

[Week 5: Sept. 20 & 22] “Freed from slavery and free of resources”: the Plantation’s Afterlife 

  • Hartman, Saidiya, and F. Wilderson. “The terrible beauty of the slum.” Brick: A Literary Journal 99 (2017): 39-44
  • Hernández Reyes, Castriela Esther. “Black women’s struggles against extractivism, land dispossession, and marginalization in Colombia.” Latin American Perspectives 46.2 (2019): 217-234.
  • Forbes, Curdella. “Between plot and plantation, trespass and transgression: Caribbean migratory disobedience in fiction and internet traffic.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 16.2 (2012): 23-42


  • Cordis, Shanya. “Forging relational difference: Racial, gendered violence and dispossession in Guyana.” Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 23.3 (2019): 18-33.

[Week 6/7: Sept. 27 & Oct. 6 ] Don’t Agonize, Organize: Community and Organization 

  • Video: Migrant Workers in Lebanon Are Trapped in a Racist System /
  • Davies, Carole Boyce. “Carnival and Diaspora: Caribbean Community, Happiness, and Activism.” Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. Duke University Press, 2008.
  • Brunson, Takkara K. “A Heroic and Revolutionary Undertaking”: African-Descended Women of the Communist Movement”. Black Women, Citizenship, and the Making of Modern Cuba. University Press of Florida, 2021


  • Larcher, Silyane. “The End of Silence: On the Revival of Afrofeminism in Contemporary France.” Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality (1848-2016), Lincoln/Londres, Presses universitaires du Nebraska (2018): 102-126

[Week 8: October 11 & 13] Black Women Black and State Violence 

  • Kia Lilly Caldwell (2020) “#MariellePresente: Black Feminism, Political Power, and Violence in Brazil”, Souls, 22:2-4, 213-238,
  • Maynard, Robyn. “Misogynoir in Canada: Punitive state practices and the devaluation of Black women and gender-oppressed people.” Policing Black lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present. Fernwood Publishing, 2017


  • Shakur, Assata.  Assata: The Autobiography of a Revolutionary. Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence Hill (2001). Chapter 1 & 2 

[Week 9: Oct. 18 & 20] The Border: Labor, Migration, and Racial Capitalism 

  • Film: Black Girl by Ousmane Sembène
  • What Did Cedric Robinson Mean by Racial Capitalism? By Robin D. G. Kelley
  • “Black Women and Domestic Work: the Early Years.” Andall, J. (2000). Gender, Migration and Domestic Service: The Politics of Black Women in Italy (1st ed.). Routledge.
  • Mlambo, Victor H., and Sphephelo Zubane. “No rights, No Freedom: The Kafala system and the plight of African migrants in the Middle East.” ADRRI Journal of Arts and Social Sciences 18.1 (6), April, 2021-June (2021): 1-16.


  • Stephen J. King (2021) Black Arabs and African migrants: between slavery and racism in North Africa, The Journal of North African Studies, 26:1, 8-50
  • Rose Myrlie Joseph. “Tying the Apron.” , Alaso #1 Rezistans, : 20-27

[Week 10: Oct. 25 & 27] Ho Theory: Controlling Images and Black Women’s Agentivity 

  • Lomax, Tamura. “Black Venus and Jezebel sluts: Writing Race, Sex and Gender”  Jezebel unhinged: Loosing the Black female body in religion and culture. Duke University Press, 2018. pp. 13-33
  • King, Rosamond S. “This Is You”: “Invisibility,” Community, and Women Who Desire Women” Island bodies: Transgressive sexualities in the Caribbean imagination. University Press of Florida, 2014


  • Magunbane, Zine. “Which Bodies Matter?: Feminism, Poststructuralism, Race, and the Curious Theoretical Odyssey of the ‘Hottentot Venus.’” Gender & Society, vol. 15, no. 6, Dec. 2001, pp. 816–834

[Week 11: Nov. 1 & 3] Family Affair: Motherhood and Sisterhood 

  • Movie: Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash (1991 )
  • Hill Collins, Patricia. “Black women and motherhood.” Living with Contradictions: Controversies in Feminist Social Ethics. Routledge, 2000. 450-461
  • dos Santos SB. “Controlling black women’s reproductive health rights: An impetus to black women’s collective organizing in Brazil”. Cultural Dynamics. 2012;24(1):13-30.
  • Bambara, Toni Cade. “On the Issue of Roles”. The black woman: An anthology. New American Library, 1970.


[Week 12: Nov. 8 & 10 ] The Beautiful Side of the Beast: Desire and the politics of Desire 

  • Da’Shaun, L. Harrison. “Pretty Ugly: The Politics of Desire.” Belly of the beast: The politics of anti-fatness as anti-blackness. North Atlantic Books, 2021, pp. 11-32
  • Williams, Bianca C. “Breaking (It) Down: Gender, Emotional Entanglements, and the Realities of Romance Tourism.” The Pursuit of Happiness. Black Women, Diasporic Dreams, and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism. Duke University Press, 2018. pp. 123-158
  • Chancy, Myriam J. A. “Subversive Sexualities: Revolutionizing Gendered Identities.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, 2008, pp. 51–75. JSTOR,
  • Philyaw, Deesha. “Eula” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. Pushkin Press, 2022. pp.1-11


  • Johnson, Jessica Marie. “Black Femme: Acts, Archives, and Archipelagos of Freedom“ Wicked flesh: black women, intimacy, and freedom in the Atlantic world. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020. Pp.153-186

 [Week 13: Nov. 15 & 17 ] Crafting Stories, Building Narratives 

  • Film: Sambizanga by Sarah Maldoror 
  • Oloukoi, Chrystel. “A Chorus for the Revolution: On Sarah Maldoror’s Radiant Call of Resistance.”Metrograph,
  • hooks, bell. “The oppositional gaze: Black female spectators.” Black American Cinema. Routledge, 2012. 288-302

Suggested :

  • Steele, Catherine Knight. “Black bloggers and their varied publics: The everyday politics of black discourse online.” Television & New Media 19.2 (2018): 112-127
  • Wynter, Sylvia. “Novel and history, plot and plantation.” Savacou 5.1 (1971): 95-102.

[Week 14: November 22 ] Crossing the Border: Internationalism and Solidarity

  • Florvil, Tiffany N. “Transnational feminist solidarity, Black German women and the politics of belonging.” Gendering Knowledge in Africa and the African Diaspora. Routledge, 2017. 87-110.
  • Williams, Elizabeth. “The West Indian and African Roots of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain.” The Politics of Race in Britain and South Africa: Black British Solidarity and the Anti-Apartheid Struggle. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015
  • Wyddiane Prophète. “Suzanne Comhair-Sylvain, a woman, an extraordinary avant-gardiste scientist”. Alaso #2  Frontyè, : 62-69

Suggested : 

  • Sudbury, Julia. “Rethinking global justice: Black women resist the transnational prison-industrial complex.” Souls 10.4 (2008): 344-360.

[Week 15: Nov. 29 & Dec 1st] AntiBlackness and the end of the World: Afropessimism

  • Episode: Black Mirror S04e6: Black Museum – Netflix 
  • Wilderson III, Frank B. Afropessimism. Liveright Publishing, 2020. pp.1-18
  • Browne, Simone. “Branding Blackness. Biometric Technology and the Surveillance of Blaéckness” Dark matters: On the surveillance of blackness. Duke University Press, 2015. pp.89-130


  • Fanon, Frantz. Black skin, white masks. Grove press, 2008.chapter 1 

 [Week 16: Dec. 6 & 8]  The Day after Tomorrow: Futures 


Wynter, Sylvia. “The ceremony must be found: After humanism.” Boundary 2 (1984): 19-70

 [Week 17: December 13 ] Conclusion