Black Matrilineage, Photography, and Representation

Another Way of Knowing

Edited by Lesly Deschler Canossi and Zoraida Lopez-Diago

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Black motherhood through Black woman photographic art

Black Matrilineage, Photography, and Representation: Another Way of Knowing questions how the Black female body, specifically the Black maternal body, navigates interlocking structures that place a false narrative on her body and that of her maternal ancestors. This volume, which includes a curated selection of images, addresses the complicated relationship between Blackness and photography and, in particular, its gendered dimension, its relationship to health, sexuality, and digital culture – primarily in the context of racialized heteronormativity.

With over forty contributors, this volume draws on scholarly inquiry ranging from academic essays, interviews, poetry, to documentary practice, and on contemporary art. Black Matrilineage, Photography, and Representation: Another Way of Knowing thus offers a cross-section of analysis on the topic of Black motherhood, mothering, and the participation of photography in the process.

This collection challenges racist images and discourses, both historically and in its persistence in contemporary society, while reclaiming the innate brilliance of Black women through personal narratives, political acts, connections to place, moments of pleasure, and communal celebration. It serves as a reflection of the past, a portal to the future, and contributes to recent scholarship on the complexities of Black life and Black joy.

Foreword by Salamishah Tillet and Scheherazade Tillet.

Afterword by Régine Michelle Jean-Charles (Northeastern University)

Contributing authors: Tomi Akitunde (founder and editor-in-chief of mater mea), Grace Aneiza Ali (Florida State University), Emily Brady (University of Nottingham), Lesly Deschler Canossi (Women Picturing Revolution), Nicole J. Caruth (independent curator), Haile Eshe Cole (University of Connecticut), Atalie Gerhard (Saarland University), Kellie Carter Jackson (Wellesley College), Régine Michelle Jean-Charles (Northeastern University), Rachel Lobo (York University), Zoraida Lopez-Diago (Women Picturing Revolution), Salamishah Tillet (Rutgers University), Scheherazade Tillet (A Long Walk Home), Brie McLemore (University of California, Berkeley), Renée Mussai (Autograph London), Marly Pierre-Louis (independent curator), Jonathan Michael Square (Parsons School of Design), Susan Thompson (independent curator), Jennifer Turner (Hollins University), Sasha Turner (Johns Hopkins University), Rhaisa Kameela Williams (Princeton University)

Contributing artists: Nydia Blas, Samantha Box, Sheila Pree Bright, Renee Cox, Andrea Chung, Nona Faustine, Adama Delphine Fawundu, vanessa german , Ayana V. Jackson, Lebohang Kganye, Deana Lawson, Qiana Mestrich, Marcia Michael, Zanele Muholi, Wangechi Mutu, Keisha Scarville, Mickalene Thomas, Mary Sibande, Carrie Mae Weems, Deborah Willis

This book emerges from the project Women Picturing Revolution.
For more information, visit www.womenpicturingrevolution.com

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer Review Content).

Acknowledgements 

Our Mother, My Muse 
Salamishah Tillet and Scheherazade Tillet

Black Matrilineage, Photography, and Representation: Another Way of Knowing 
Lesly Deschler Canossi and Zoraida Lopez-Diago

PART ONE
MORE BLACK AND MORE BEAUTIFUL: SOCIAL MEDIA & DIGITAL CULTURE IN THE REWRITING OF SELF 

1 Regarding the Pain of Our Own: Jazmine Headley, Portraiture, and the Sorrow of Black Motherhood 
Brie McLemore
2 Beyond “Welfare Queens” and “Baby Mamas”: Low-Income Black Single Mothers’ Resistance to Controlling Images 
Jennifer L. Turner
3 Black Motherhood Online: A Reimagined Representation: A Conversation with Tomi Akitunde 
Kellie Carter Jackson
4 Thotty Mommies: The Erotic Potential of Black Mothers Online 
Marly Pierre-Louis

PART TWO
“TURNING THE FACE OF HISTORY TO YOUR FACE”: SEEING THE REAL SELF THROUGH REPRESENTATIONS OF BLACK MOTHERHOOD

5 Motherhood in the work of Deana Lawson – A conversation with the Artist 
Susan Thompson
6 Photographic Afterimages: Nationalism, Care Work and Black Motherhood in Canada 
Rachel Lobo
7. “I Like to Make Pictures of Children”: African American Women Photographers and Wielding the Weapon of ‘Motherhood’ 
Emily Brady
8 Losses Not to Be Passed On: Paula C. Johnson’s and Sara Bennett’s Portraits Rewriting (Ex-) Incarcerated Black Mothers 
Atalie Gerhard
9 Speaking of “unspeakable things unspoken” 
Sasha Turner

PART THREE
“YOU ARE YOUR BEST THING”: SELF-CARE AS A SITE OF RESISTANCE 

10 Black Birth Matters – A Conversation with Andrea Chung and D’Yuanna Allen-Robb 
Nicole J. Caruth
11 Worth a Thousand Words: Visualizing Black Motherhood and Health 
Haile Eshe Cole
12 Three Black Mothers in a Cleveland Cabaret 
Rhaisa Williams

PART FOUR
“IN SEARCH OF MY MOTHER’S GARDEN, I FOUND MY OWN”: BLACK FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THE MATRILINEAL SPACE 

13 Letter IV: Where Are They? – M/othering R/evolutions 
Renée Mussai
14 Every Day is Mother’s Day in My Book: Black Motherhood in the Work of Nona Faustine Simmons 
Jonathan Michael Square
15 The Motherland Between Us
Grace Aneiza Ali
16 The Impossibility of Breathing When the Sun Covers Your Face
Marcia Michael

PART FIVE
“THE ASSERTION OF THE LIFEFORCE”: A SELECTION OF WORKS CURATED BY WOMEN PICTURING REVOLUTION 

Afterword. Black Matrilineage, Photography, and Representation: Another Way of Knowing 
Régine Michelle Jean-Charles

Contributors 
Artists 
Colophon 

Format: Edited volume - paperback

Size: 230 × 170 × 17 mm

336 pages

66 images b&w, 30 images in color

ISBN: 9789462702868

Publication: October 03, 2022

Languages: English: United States

Stock item number: 150449

Lesly Deschler Canossi is a photography educator, cultural producer and co-founder of Women Picturing Revolution. She is faculty at the International Center of Photography, New York.
Zoraida Lopez-Diago stands at the intersection of visual, social, and environmental justice; she is a photographer, independent curator, activist, and co-founder of Women Picturing Revolution.
This edited volume contributes to recent projects centering Black reproductive rights and practices of care in Black communities on a practical and scholarly level. With the focus on photography and representation, the anthology provides a focus that is in its scope underrepresented and underexplored. The mixture of interviews, academic essays, poetry, interviews and other forms of writing and carefully curated color plates at the end of the volume provide not only a refreshing and innovative format to cover the wide and diverse range of approaches but also provides an important methodological contribution to existing scholarship.
Henriette Gunkel, Ruhr-Universität Bochum