This article examines the queer feminist Afro-Asian poetics and politics of spoken word and performance artist Shailja Patel’s 2006 onewoman show and 2010 prose poem, both titled Migritude. Patel’s migritude poetics resonates with and departs from much contemporary migritude writing, particularly with respect to the genre’s focus on a global-North-based, black Atlantic African diaspora. The article draws attention to a “brown Atlantic,” in which Africa is the site both of diaspora and of homeland. More important, it shows that Patel’s queer femininity unsettles a diasporic logic of racial exceptionalism. This logic aids and abets a (black) native/(South Asian) migrant divide in colonial and postcolonial Kenya. Patel’s femme migritude, as I call it, draws on nonequivalent histories of black and Asian racialized dispossession to construct a mode of global-South, cross-racial political relationality.
Femme Migritude: Shailja Patel’s Afro-Asian Poetics
Vanita Reddy is associate professor of English at Texas A&M University. She is the author of Fashioning Diaspora: Beauty, Femininity, and South Asian American Culture (2016) and coeditor of a special issue of Scholar and Feminist Online titled “Feminist and Queer Afro-Asian Formations” (2018).
Vanita Reddy; Femme Migritude: Shailja Patel’s Afro-Asian Poetics. the minnesota review 1 May 2020; 2020 (94): 67–84. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00265667-8128421
Download citation file: