This essay explores the photographic series Queen Nanny of the Maroons (2004–5) by artist Renée Cox. In the series Cox appropriates the eighteenth-century Jamaican folk hero Queen Nanny, leader of the Windward Maroon community, and brings her into the present. Very little is known about the actual historical figure of Nanny, though the continued presence of the Maroon communities keeps her memories and legend alive to the Jamaican population. I argue that Cox uses her own body to give Nanny a visual presence, presenting her as a military strategist, warrior, and sexual female. This changes the public imaginary version of Nanny, who was thought to have been well into her sixties when she battled the British colonists. Cox’s depictions of Nanny in various staged tableaus draw attention to the multifaceted nature of this little-known female figure and remind viewers of the legacy of black women as soldiers and partners alongside men in the fight for racial freedom in centuries past and present.

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