Clenora Hudson-Weems: “Africana Womanism: A Global Paradigm for Women of African Descent”

Professor Clenora Hudson-Weems, who spoke at Bowdoin on Sept. 28, 2015, is the leading scholar in Africana womanism, a term that she coined and conceptualized in the late 1980s to proffer a paradigm within which to consider more accurately and critically the experience of African women and women of African descent in relation to race, women, socio-economic, political and cultural matters.

Hudson-Weems is a professor of English at the University of Missouri and is a theorist, writer and movie producer and the proponent of Africana Womanism that has brought many to critically reconsider feminism, black feminism, African feminism, and womanism. She has authored several important books concerning her Africana womanist theory including, among others, Africana Womanism & Race & Gender in the Presidential Candidacy of Barack Obama (2008 & 2009); Africana Womanist Literary Theory (2004), Africana Womanism: Reclaiming Ourselves (1993); and Emmett Till: The Sacrificial Lamb of the Civil Rights Movement (1994 & 2006).

By her definition, Africana womanism is neither an outgrowth of nor an addendum to feminism; it is not black feminism, African feminism, or Walker’s womanism that some Africana women have come to embrace. Africana womanism is an ideology created and designed for all women of African descent. It is grounded in African culture and, therefore, it necessarily focuses on the unique experiences, struggles, needs, and desires of Africana women. It critically addresses the dynamics of the conflict between the mainstream feminist, the black feminist, the African feminist, and the Africana womanist.

With her groundbreaking and striking concept, Hudson-Weems has expanded the scope and terms used to consider questions on women and especially black women in the world. She has contributed to filling in a void, bringing the Africana womanist voice to the social, political, cultural, academic and intellectual fore and stirring critical dialogues in the gender and women’s studies field.

The event was sponsored by the departments of Romance Languages and Literatures, English and Gender and Women’s studies, and the Africana Studies Program.

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