Black Hunger: Food and the Politics of U.S. Identity

Hardcover | February 1, 1999

byDoris Witt

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The creation of the Aunt Jemima trademark from an 1889 vaudeville performance of a play called "The Emigrant" helped codify a pervasive connection between African American women and food. In Black Hunger, Doris Witt demonstrates how this connection has operated as a central structuring dynamicof twentieth-century U.S. psychic, cultural, sociopolitical, and economic life. Taking as her focus the tumultuous era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when soul food emerged as a pivotal emblem of white radical chic and black bourgeois authenticity, Witt explores how this interracial celebration of previously stigmatized foods such as chitterlings and watermelon was linkedto the contemporaneous vilification of black women as slave mothers. By positioning African American women at the nexus of debates over domestic servants, black culinary history, and white female body politics, Black Hunger demonstrates why the ongoing narrative of white fascination with blacknessdemands increased attention to the internal dynamics of sexuality, gender, class, and religion in African American culture. Witt draws on recent work in social history and cultural studies to argue for food as an interpretive paradigm which can challenge the privileging of music in scholarship on African American culture, destabilize constrictive disciplinary boundaries in the academy, and enhance our understanding ofhow individual and collective identities are established.

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The creation of the Aunt Jemima trademark from an 1889 vaudeville performance of a play called "The Emigrant" helped codify a pervasive connection between African American women and food. In Black Hunger, Doris Witt demonstrates how this connection has operated as a central structuring dynamicof twentieth-century U.S. psychic, cultural...

Doris Witt is at University of Iowa.

other books by Doris Witt

Black Hunger: Soul Food And America
Black Hunger: Soul Food And America

Paperback|Oct 15 2004

$24.95

Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.29 × 6.3 × 0.98 inPublished:February 1, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195110625

ISBN - 13:9780195110623

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"Doris Witt's study breaks important ground in highlighting food as a site through which to explore the interplay of race, gender, class, and sexuality.... The critical and theoretical perspectives on which Witt primarily draws...prove to be highly effective and relevant.... Scholars who areinterested in critical work on masculinities should definitely place this book on their readings list. In addition, Witt has made a most significant contribution to the critical discussions of food and gender advanced in recent times.... Black Hunger is compellingly argued, beautifully written, andfully engaging from beginning to end. Witt has given us nothing less than an intellectual feast."--American Literature