Five. Representative Women: Slavery and the Gendered Ground of Citizenship
This chapter focuses on the 1920 essay “The Damnation of Women,” Du Bois's collective biography of African American women. Despite the masculinism that defines much of his writing, and the tensions that qualify even his strongest arguments on behalf of gender equality, this essay demands that readers grapple with the meaning of “womanhood” and “citizenship” through the lens of black women's history. It also reorients feminist citizenship theory in the United States by demonstrating the need to go beyond reckoning with race to confront the lingering shadows of slavery.
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