This past Friday, I attended a one-day symposium at Columbia/Barnard honoring Hazel V. Carby. The caliber of presenters–Anne McClintock, Robert Rheid-Pharr, Winaldo Walcott and others–and the huge number of attendees, many of whom (at least in my opinion) are producing some of the most powerful work in cultural studies today attests to the lasting influence of Carby’s Reconstructing Womanhood and her other work on lynching, empire, and black feminist cultural work like the blues. Twenty years since the book’s publication, I’m finding it indispensable in my Black Feminisms grad course. My hope is that her materialist readings will rub off on my grad students, encouraging them to do research that is thorough and that engages the interrelatedness of race, class, gender and sexuality.
Being among other scholars impacted by Hazel’s work and meeting and talking to Hazel herself was totally reenergizing for me and I’m sure many others transformed by black feminist work. Her work in progress Child of Empire (a work that she read from at the symposium) is highly anticipated and further evidences her courage and critical acumen.