CFP: Women in U. S. Race Riots (12/22/03; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Julie Cary Nerad

CFP: Rage, Resistance, and Representation: Women in U. S. Race Riots

Atlanta, GA. Washington, DC. Wilmington, NC. Chicago, Philadelphia,
Ocoee, New York, Tulsa: cities – among many others – that have been home
to race riots in the United States over the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries. This collection of essays will investigate the various active
roles women, and particularly minority women, played in such riots,
paying specific attention to exposing the cultural fallacy of women’s
passivity in the public realm of violence, especially in relation to the
construction of racial identity and cultural race relations.

This project proceeds from the assumption that our historical
representations and interpretations of race riots have constructed
active resistance to or participation in (usually white) mob violence as
primarily masculine: whenever possible, men fought to defend (reputedly
or actually) their cultures, communities, and families. Women’s roles,
in comparison, are remembered as primarily passive on both sides of “the
color line”: women’s bodies were protected, defended, raped, beaten,
mutilated, or ignored. These dual constructions, while often accurate
and productive for highlighting the gendered and sexualized violence of
race riots, leave a yawning void in both our understanding of minority
communities’ resistance to national, racialized forms of terrorism, and
our cultural memory of white women’s role in the public domain and their
engagement in “the race question.” This project will begin to fill those
voids by investigating how women participated more actively, through
both rhetoric and action, in race riots. While the essays in this
collection should not ignore the ways that women – or men – were victims
to (usually white) mob violence in race riots, they should primarily
highlight how women actively participated in those riots.

Essays may deal with the historical archive itself, or they may deal
with fictional representations of riots in order to emphasize how
women’s roles have been proscribed, lauded, condemned, etc. in the
cultural imagination at different historical moments by different
voices. Essays should explore the theoretical and ideological constructs
(such as the lingering myth of separate spheres, perceived biological
racial and/or gender difference, or the “cult of true womanhood”) that
proscribe and silence our cultural memory of women’s participation in
violent public acts in relation to race. While essays should note the
precipitating causes of the respective riots, the essays should more
importantly explore the underlying cultural issues such as the control
of property, the attempt to exercise various rights (such as freedom of
speech or the franchise), political power or definition of the nation,
etc. that ultimately fuel race riots.

The collection aims to be interdisciplinary and will tentatively include
12-14 essays, organized both chronologically and thematically. Although
the project will emphasize non-white women’s participation in race
riots, some articles addressing white women's involvement will also be
included. The collection also actively seeks to include various
non-white groups such as Native, Asian, Latino, Jewish, and/or
historically liminal European peoples (such as Italian, Irish, Spanish,
etc.); thus, submissions of essays dealing with such groups are
particularly encouraged. The essays should, however, focus on race riots
rather than spectacle lynchings, as the socio-cultural dynamics of the
two types of events are significantly different. Finished papers should
be approximately 8,000 - 10,000 words and will be tentatively due in
August 2004.

Please send 500 word abstracts or papers by December 22 to Dr. Julie
Cary Nerad at
Morgan State University
Department of English and Language Arts
1700 E. Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, MD 21251

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Received on Fri Oct 24 2003 - 09:09:29 EDT