Drawing on a range of historical and literary texts, this book examines how Black women under the yoke of slavery negotiated their sense of belonging and spirituality from a liminal position, stuck between a new life in the Americas, and their connections to their African ancestral roots and a wider diasporic community.
The book investigates how Black women in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, the United States, and Brazil turned to their spiritual beliefs as a tool of resilience and resistance. These “griots” and “goddesses” are forced to negotiate complex issues such as race, gender, identity, maternity, sexuality, and belonging, from a liminal position that looks to both settle roots in a foreign land, and stay connected to ancestors and the Sacred. As these Black female protagonists turn to (re)memory and ancestral knowledge to map their connection with the Divine, they become mediators of worlds, and hybrid griots surpassing temporal and geographical boundaries.
With important reflections on Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s Daughters of the Stone, and Ana Maria Gonçalves’s Um Defeito de Cor, amongst other texts, this book will be of interest to advanced students and researchers of comparative literature, religious studies, gender studies, and African diaspora studies.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION
Origins and New Beginnings
Hybrid Cultures and Identities
CHAPTER 2 - EMBARKATIONS AND DISEMBARKATIONS: THE VOICES OF THE ORISHAS IN THE AMERICAS
Embarkations: Traditional African Spirituality
Disembarkations: New World Syncretism
CHAPTER 3 - YEMANJA AND OSHUN: AFRICAN GODDESSES IN DIALOGUE WITH THE AMERICAS
Um defeito de cor: Crossings and Manifestations
Daughters of the Stone: Oshun Speaks
CHAPTER 4 – MEMORY AND (RE)MEMORY IN WORKS OF BLACK WOMEN WRITERS
Beloved: Haunting Memories and Painful Disremembering
Um defeito de cor: A Lifetime of (Re)Memories
Reyita: The Life of a Black Cuban Woman in the Twentieth Century and Bitita’s Diary: The Childhood Memoirs of Carolina Maria de Jesus: Memories of Identity
CHAPTER 5 – MAPPING THE DIVINE IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
Crossings and Dislocations
Rootedness and Spirituality
Intertwined Root Theories
Negotiations of Diaspora: A Literary Selection
The Spirits Dance Mambo: A Double Diaspora
CHAPTER 6 – GODDESSES: MEDIUMS OF WORLDS
Healing Practices: Women between Cities and Worlds
Um Defeito de Cor and Sortes de Villamor: Echoes of Spirits and Spiritual Healing
The Altar of My Soul and The Spirits Dance Mambo: Orishas, Patakís, and Identity
CHAPTER 7 - GRIOTS: GUARDIANS OF UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE
Beloved and Daughters of the Stone: Embodied Inscriptions and the Passing On of "Herstories"
CHAPTER 8 – NEGOTIATING GENDER AND MATERNITY UNDER THE YOKE OF SLAVERY
Maternity Sought and Maternity Denied: Beloved, Daughters of the Stone, and Um defeito de cor
CHAPTER 9 – MANIFESTATIONS OF SEXUALITY AND SPIRITUALITY: A LITERARY PERSPECTIVE
Liminal Sexuality and Gender Ambiguity in The Red of His Shadow
CHAPTER 10 - CONCLUSIONS
The voices echo on
Tonia Leigh Wind completed her PhD at the University of Georgia, USA and is currently a Teaching Associate of Portuguese at the University of Nottingham in the UK.
"Black Women’s Literature of the Americas: Griots and Goddesses is thoroughly researched, logical in argument progression, and deeply engaging and persuasive in its clear narrative. The larger argument of the book is instructive: it prioritizes historical and literary texts from Brazil, the Caribbean, and the United States to develop a comparative study of how the discussed “griots” and “goddesses” strategy of negotiation of issues of identity and belonging through paradigms of (re)memory and the Sacred. This is a book of lasting value and relevance to those interested in transmission of African women throughout the Americas, particularly to future generations of women of African descent."
Ibigbolade Simon Aderibigbe, PhD, University of Georgia
"Tonia Leigh Wind fulfills through her cultural studies, specifically on the perspective of gender, a great contribution to academic studies that highlight this critical and analytical analysis in order to unveil frameworks that give way to a current discussion with regard to topics relating to power and the validation of discourses."
Dr. Iêdo de Oliveira Paes, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco
"Griots and Goddesses is an important contribution to deeper understandings of Black women’s voices in historical and literary texts and spiritual practice from the Spanish speaking Caribbean, Brazil and the U.S. It is a timely exploration of Black women’s engagements with the Sacred as contestation and creations of community as sites of empowerment for students, scholars and interested readers alike."
Dr. Lesley Feracho, University of Georgia
"With rare humility and extreme technical competence, Tonia Wind listens to the voices dispersed over hundreds of years and by millions of individuals to weave the conclusion of a female narrative, in which griots, orishas, and writers are medium between worlds to sustain survival and rebirth of the African soul in the Americas."
Dr. Nilma Gonçalves Lacerda, Fluminense Federal University
"At a moment when historical racial injustice and social and economic inequalities have, once again, been blatantly exposed, Wind’s book powerfully reveals representations of diasporic enslaved Black women across the Americas, whose spirituality is not only a cry for liberation but a vigorous instrument of collective resistance."
Dr. Núria Vilanova, American University