Call for Papers: On Mothering and Black Magic Special Issue

Leighan Renaud's picture
Call for Papers
December 1, 2022
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, African History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Literature


Special Issue: On Mothering and Black Magic


In the essay collection Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (2016), Alexis Pauline Gumbs makes the careful distinction between ‘motherhood’ (‘a status granted by patriarchy to white middle-class women’) and ‘mothering.’ Gumbs defines mothering as an action and form of labour; as ‘that survival dance, worked by enslaved women who were forced to breastfeed the children of the status mothers.’ Mothering, she continues, ‘is worked by chosen and accidental mentors who agree to support some growing thing unpredictable thing called future.’

We are seeking to put together a special issue including papers and reflections on literatures of the African diaspora that respond to Gumbs’ demand that we redefine ‘mothering’ as ‘a technology of transformation’ and that engage with mothering beyond womanhood, biology and biological processes. We invite contributors to consider Black mothering in and across the African diaspora – birthing, parenting, midwifery, and other acts – as a type of magic, and magic as a technology of survival. We ask that contributors put forth visions of the generative ways that mothering has sustained, does sustain and could/will sustain us in the face of enslavement, (neo)colonialism and white supremacy; how survival, for those who were not supposed to survive, is a magical, subversive act and process.

This special issue seeks to bring together literary and cultural criticism that can transform our understandings of mothering in our past, present and future as a collective, liberatory labour of survival – as a magical technology of the future.

We do not yet have a home for this special issue, but have plans to submit a proposal, along with accepted abstracts, to a journal, the details of which we will share with contributors.

What Should the Submitted Articles Consider?

Potential topics of discussion include, but are not limited to:

•         Black motherhood, mothering, childbirth and parenthood

•         Black midwifery, both on the plantation and in its post-Emancipation permutations

•         Black/Afrosyncretic religious beliefs and praxes as technologies of mothering

•         Black mothering as grotesque

•         Black mothering as future (past, present) technology


About the Editors:

Leighan Renaud is a lecturer in English at the University of Bristol, UK. She is the author of the forthcoming Motherhood and Marronage. Janelle Rodriques is an assistant professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the author of Narratives of Obeah in West Indian Literature: Moving Through the Margins (2019).


To submit a abstract, please send an email with the subject ‘On Mothering and Black Magic abstract’ to and by 1 December 2022. Abstracts should be 300 words, and include a 50 word bio.