The Politics of Black Joy
Zora Neale Hurston and Neo-Abolitionism
Imprint: Northwestern University Press
Stewart develops Hurston’s contributions to political theory and philosophy of race by introducing the politics of joy as a refusal of neo-abolitionism, a political tradition that reduces southern Black life to tragedy or social death. To develop the politics of joy, Stewart draws upon Zora Neale Hurston’s essays, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and figures across several disciplines including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Saidiya Hartman, Imani Perry, Eddie Glaude, and Audra Simpson. The politics of joy offers insights that are crucial for forming needed new paths in our current moment. For those interested in examining popular conceptions of Black political agency at the intersection of geography, gender, class, and Black spirituality, The Politics of Black Joy is essential reading.
Introduction: The Trouble of Black Southern Joy
Scene 1: “I Ain’t Thinkin’ ‘Bout You”
Chapter 1: “Sing[ing] a Song to the Morning”: The Politics of Joy
Scene 2: “The Past and the Future Merge to Meet us Here”
Chapter 2: “An Object of Pity”: Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the Rise of Abolitionism
Scene 3: “She Don’t Gotta Give It Up, She Professional”
Chapter 3: “Tak[ing] the Indian Position”: Hurston within and against the Abolitionist Tradition
Scene 4: “Slay Trick, or You Get Eliminated”
Chapter 4: “Winning [Our] War from Within”: Moving beyond Resistance
Conclusion: The Politics of Joy in the Time of the Coronavirus
“The Politics of Black Joy cracks open the complexities of southern Blackness by offering an intriguing and underutilized approach—Black joy—to address how the South sits at the crux of racial performance, agency, and gender. At the center of Lindsey Stewart's theorization is Zora Neale Hurston, a southern literary and cultural icon whose genius is revisited every generation. Stewart not only demonstrates a mastery of scholarship about Hurston’s life and writing but also ties it together with her own analysis to create a work that refreshes criticism surrounding Hurston and her contemporaries to gain a better understanding of southern Black life and culture.” —Regina N. Bradley, author of Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South
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