Feminist Duration Reading Group: White Woman Listen! Black Feminism and the Boundaries of Sisterhood by Hazel V Carby
3 July 2018

Tue 2 Jul, 7-9pm
SPACE Mare Street
Free & all open to all

“The herstory of black women is interwoven with that of white women but this does not mean they are the same story. Nor do we need white feminists to write our herstory for us; we can and are doing that for ourselves. However, when they write their herstory and call it the story of women but ignore our lives and deny their relation to us, that is the moment in which they are acting within the relations of racism and writing history.” Hazel V Carby

The July meeting of the Feminist Duration Reading Group focuses on Hazel V Carby’s incisive analysis of Euro-American feminism’s implicit racial bias. By generalizing about black and Third World women, Carby shows how white feminists reflect colonial and capitalist ideologies, thus demonstrating the inadequacy of simplistic notions of female equality and sisterhood.

White feminists need to analyse the lives and herstories of black women with more historical complexity and depth, Carby argues. By recognising how black women have been subjected to the demands of capital accumulation, a materialist feminist framework would challenge assumptions about “progressive” and “under-developed” societies. It would question the widespread feminist analysis of "the family", "patriarchy" and "reproduction.” Suggesting alternative approaches that build on the key role played by black women in resistance movements, Carby highlights the strong networks of female support that sustain black women’s struggle, historically and in the present.   

Published in 1982 in the landmark book The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in Seventies Britain, collectively edited by the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, ‘White Woman Listen!’ was republished in the important 1997 anthology Black British Feminism, edited by Heidi Safia Mirza. Carby’s analysis of Euro/American feminism’s “commonsense racism” continues to resonate powerfully today.

We read out loud, together, as a group. Please bring copies of the essay with you. Prior reading is not required.

The Feminist Duration Reading Group focuses on under-known and under-appreciated feminist texts, movements, and struggles from outside the Anglo-American feminist tradition. Started at Goldsmiths, University of London, in March 2015, since July 2015 it has been generously hosted by SPACE, 129-131 Mare Street in Hackney.                                                                                     

The group generally meets once a month, alternately on the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm at SPACE, and the first Saturday of the month at 4pm a non-institutional venue. Details of previous meetings can be found on the right-hand panel. 

The Feminist Duration Reading Group welcomes feminists of all genders and generations to explore the legacy and resonance of art, thinking and collective practice from earlier periods of feminism, in dialogue with contemporary practices and movements. It is led by the Feminist Duration Working Group whose current members are Giulia Antonioli, Angelica Bollettinari, Lina Džuverović, Sabrina Fuller, Lily Evans-Hill, Félicie Kertudo, Mariana Lemos, Roisin O’Sullivan, Sara Paiola, Helena Reckitt, and Justin Seng.  

If you would like to join the reading group mailing list, propose a focus for a subsequent session, or invite us to lead a meeting, please write to feministduration@gmail.com