This article uses a collection of African American women's friendship albums held at the Library Company of Philadelphia to reflect on scholarly resistance to reading disappointment, and negativity more generally, in the archives of black freedom. Rather than viewing these artifacts as expressions of black women's freedom in antebellum Philadelphia, the author reads them as documents that register the many disappointments of freedom, especially for women. This article also considers how disappointment itself may be a productive approach to the archives of nominal freedom. Despite recent work that has reflected on the melancholic attachments of black studies, as well as a growing interest in Afro-pessimism and the long afterlives of slavery, the spirit and force of these contributions have yet to shape our approach to the archive of black freedom, which is often nothing more than the uncanny double of slavery's archive.
1 December 2015
Britt Rusert; Disappointment in the Archives of Black Freedom. Social Text 1 December 2015; 33 (4 (125)): 19–33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-3315874
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