Hortense Spillers’ “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” written in , exists as a fundamental work in the discourse on race, gender, and the. Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book. Hortense J. Spillers. Diacritics, Vol. 17, No. 2, Culture and Countermemory: The. In conversation with the seminal article of Hortense Spillers, Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book, Wilderson explains that, for him.

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I am unable to go into each in detail here, but the validity of these points of contention is not what is in question for Spillers. I think this idealized family structure is very much criticized in Beloved.

Both femininity and motherhood loses sacredness in the dispossessed.

In that regard, the names by which I am called in the public place render an example of signifying property plus. They are basing it all off of what they consider to be normative instead of allowing people to formulate their own identity.

Log In Sign Up. Overall, Spillers aims to draw connections between the structures of the black family that were created during slavery, and the ways in which they have manifested into contemporary familial phenomenons.

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Hortense J. Spillers, Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book – PhilPapers

And so, connecting to my project, in thinking of the ways in which state violence can be justified against black women in ways that are different from violence against other women of color, one must not simply look at the modern era. The Moynihan Report, stated that the perceived cause of the deterioration of the black society was the black family’s deterioration.


I do understand different points that she makes, but I think the dense language and just all the different topics she raises makes it difficult for me to understand all of her main points. In order for me to speak a truer word concerning myself, I must strip down through layers of attenuated meanings, made in excess over time, assigned by a particular historical order, and there await whatever marvels of my own inventiveness.

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Hortense Spiller’s Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: an American Grammar Book

Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor”. She states that she wrote “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe” with a sense of hopelessness. Kopelman – – Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 4: Initially, the brutality of the action is overwhelming, and how someone can be led to this quite unfathomable.

Duke University Press, Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a sillers link. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Illuminating the Grammar of Poetry and the Poetry of Grammar. You are commenting using your Twitter account. Mamz is what she goes on to do in this essay. So too does the ethnic black realize themselves as both subject and object, themselves as an ethnicity, which for blacks must be eternally patriarchal, if the white patriarchy is to be challenged.

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April 17, at 3: This is similar to the idea of the double-consciousness that Neal mentions in his essay, and Spillers reminded me of it in her essay, too. Professorliterary critic, feminist scholar. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Robinson’s Paradigms and Exercises in Syriac Grammar. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. To her, “gendering” took place within domesticity, which gained power through cultural fictions of “the specificity of proper names” Lawrie Balfour – – Hypatia 20 3: On the underside of this equation is the fact that Africans were caught in a suspension, or a liminal, in-between space: You are commenting using your Twitter account.


Thus, while the temporal frame of chattel slavery to modern day is a broad one, differential experiences of state violence against different groups of women of color cannot be addressed without discussing chattel slavery. As the origins of the slave trade, and the displacement of African-Americans, Spillers discovers that the absence of the domestic sphere and the importance of the female was never fully recovered even after the middle passage, when women were still deprived of their abilities to operate within the feminine sphere by being deprived of both home and children.

First, she argues that the absent father in African-American history is the white slave master, since legally the child followed the condition of the mother through the hortene partus sequitur ventrem. Through naming typical stereotypes ascribed to black women, Spillers begins to refute the negative perceptions ascribed to the black family and black familial matriarchal structure asserted throughout the Moynihan Report.