Hannah Woode Amissah-Arthur


This paper looks at four African-American women’s writings, Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859), Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (1982), and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) in an attempt to derive from the lives of black women, a structural formulation of motherism to serve as a framework within which most black women’s lives and angst can be analysed. The paper looks at the ways in which the ambivalent nature of mothering in the novels theorize black mothering and therefore sets to authenticate the idea of theorizing black mothering. In employing all the main women characters considered as mothers while concentrating on the ambivalence in which they operate as black mothers, there is an attempt to portray the ubiquity of mothering in all the three periods in the African-American history, that is slavery, flight and freedom. This paper conclusively attempts to theorise the African-American concept of motherhood, by creating the terminology ‘Motherhate’.  This terminology of mothering is coined from the behavioural tendency of a mother towards her child(ren) and would be added to the plethora of motherhood within the African-American feminists and the novels of the African-American women writers.




black mothering, matriarchy, motherism, motherhate, motherhood, theory

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