Positioning Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade, as a genre-defying text alongside her husband Jay-Z’s response record, 4:44, this essay argues that Lemonade is an exercise in autoethnographic kinship formation, one that utilizes representations of Beyoncé and her family—defined biologically in the conventional sense of the nuclear family and constructed more broadly to include a sisterhood of fictive kin—to reimagine how black marriage, sexuality, and kinship are popularly understood. The reliance on queer voices in both Lemonade and 4:44 is parsed in light of the erasure of gendernonconforming bodies in Beyoncé’s visual album to interrogate how both artists reconceptualize family. The essay employs the couple’s union to expose the persistence of entrenched race/gender ideologies that pathologize the black family.
“Beyoncé and Her Husband”: Representing Infidelity and Kinship in a Black Marriage
Oneka Labennett is an associate professor of Africana studies at Cornell University. Her publications include Racial Formation in the Twenty-First Century, coedited with Daniel Martinez HoSang and Laura Pulido (University of California Press, 2012) and She’s Mad Real: Popular Culture and West Indian Girls in Brooklyn (New York University Press, 2011). She is currently working on two manuscripts, “Guyanese Girl: Centering Guyana through Autoethnography” and “Daughters of the Diaspora: Reading, Writing, and Rhythm.”
Oneka Labennett; “Beyoncé and Her Husband”: Representing Infidelity and Kinship in a Black Marriage. differences 1 September 2018; 29 (2): 154–188. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-6999816
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