Afro-Filipino Archives and Architectures: Jessica Hagedorn and Ntozake Shange's Feminist and Poetic (Re)Visions
During the 1970s Third World Liberation and Black Arts movements, Black and Asian American writers created transnational and artistic alliances. In particular, Filipino artist Jessica Hagedorn and Black feminist writer Ntozake Shange traveled and performed at readings together in San Francisco and New York. With poet Thulani Davis, they formed a trio called “The Satin Sisters” and co-authored plays and poems together. Hagedorn and Shange embodied the Third Worldist visions for Afro-Asian racial and feminist unity. However, current Afro-Asian scholarship seldom analyzes Filipino and African American feminist solidarities and privileges masculinist Afro-(East)Asian nationalisms. I recover these gaps by mining through the silenced archives—both print and expressive cultures—that reveal "Afro-Filipino” women’s exchanges. I argue that Hagedorn and Shange’s unique collaborations created felt architectures, sensorial spaces that center female intimacies and resistance through sound, touch, sight, and dance. Mapping these felt spaces, that resist patriarchal and colonial domination, this thesis first examines 1970s Third World anthologies, Hagedorn’s Dangerous Music (1975), and Shange’s Nappy Edges (1978). The second part focuses on the plays for colored girls who have considered suicide (1975) and where the mississippi meets the amazon (1978). Focusing on how their works construct female-oriented artistic spaces, my multi-disciplinary project concludes that Hagedorn and Shange’s subversive and avant-garde aesthetics represent Black and Filipino feminist political formations and solidarities as constitutively integral to the foundations of Third World feminist coalition-building and poetic place-making.
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