Writing black womanhood : feminist writing by four contemporary African and black diaspora women writers
This thesis explores the concept of black womanhood and female identity in Africa and its diaspora. It examines questions of black womanhood in relation to cultural concepts of black women. It analyses the ways black women perceive and represent themselves and how they articulate their self-perceptions within and outside the traditional cultures of their societies. The problems of black women foregrounded in most postcolonial black women's texts reflect their marginal and oppressed position. The study will explore the textual voice, social and political agency, and how black women's experiences and histories are articulated in the writing of four contemporary black women writers from Africa and the Caribbean. Contesting and reacting against distorted and marginalizing constructions in black men's texts, Bessie Head, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ema Brodber and Olive Senior portray a black womanhood which challenges black women's marginality in literature and in society. I suggest that the writers' concerns, focus and narrative strategies contribute to an understanding of the ways in which black women perceive themselves. The four writers create a variety of characters who illustrate individual as well as communal gender and class-specific conflicts produced by their socio-historical realities. The writers’ perceptions and sensibilities as women are informed by their different backgrounds and relationships to their societies. Their narrative points of view which are grounded in history and which involve use of the oral storytelling techniques of their societies reflect the diversity and complexity of black women's lives and experiences.