Achille Mbembe coined the term necropolitics as a corrective to Michel Foucault's concept of biopolitics to account for “those figures of sovereignty whose central project is … the material destruction of human bodies and populations” most evident on the plantation and in the colony. Melissa Wright has added that the politics of gender is central to the politics of death. She highlights state officials' efforts to assign meaning to the bodies of the slain as critical to the successful operation of necropower and argues that activists can contest attempts to mark the dead as subjects deserving of death. Mbembe's and Wright's delineation of necropolitics illuminates much about contemporary US racial politics. This article examines how black activists and others challenge official efforts to assign meaning to the bodies of the slain. It also examines the difficulties feminist activists confront in their attempts to decenter the cis-male body in recent necropolitical struggles. In a context in which spectacular violent deaths have been crucial in moving black death from the margins to the center of political debate, black feminists must reckon with the fact that, because of significant differences between homicide and femicide, black women suffer from a spectacular violent death deficit. What can drive concern toward these more private deaths?
Research Article|July 01 2017
Shatema Threadcraft; North American Necropolitics and Gender: On #BlackLivesMatter and Black Femicide. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2017; 116 (3): 553–579. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-3961483
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