1st Edition

Animality and Humanity in French Late Modern Representations of Black Femininity

By Elodie Silberstein Copyright 2023
    152 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume examines the evolution of the depictions of black femininity in French visual culture as a prism through which to understand the Global North’s destructive relationship with the natural world.

    Drawing on a broad spectrum of archives extending back to the late 18th century – paintings, fashion plates, prints, photographs, and films – this study traces the intricate ways a patriarchal imperialism and a global capitalism have paired black women with the realm of nature to justify the exploitation both of people and of ecosystems. These dehumanizing and speciesist strategies of subjugation have perpetuated interlocking patterns of social injustice and environmental depletion that constitute the most salient challenges facing humankind today. Through a novel approach that merges visual studies, critical race theory, and animal studies, this interdisciplinary investigation historicizes the evolution of the boundaries between human and non-human animals during the modern period.

    The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, visual studies, critical race theory, colonial and post-colonial studies, animal studies, and French studies.

    1. Introduction 2. Staging Sara Baartman: Between Animality and Civility 3. Josephine Baker and Chiquita: The Feline and The Feminine 4. Josephine Baker: Taming Wildness on Screen 5. Grace Jones: The Return of the "Feral" Woman 6. The New Territories of Animalistic Glamour: "An Allosaurus to Adopt" 7. The Future of Animalistic Glamour


    Elodie Silberstein is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Pace University, New York, USA.