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Journeys and Journals

Women's Mystery Writing and Migration in the African Diaspora


Carol Allen

Using literary criticism, theory, and sociohistoric data, this book brings into conversation black migrations with mystery novels by African American women, novels which explore fully the psychic, economic, and spiritual impact of mass migratory movements. Diaspora travel has been forced and selected and has extended from the Slave Trade through the contemporary moment, causing the black subject to wrestle with motion, the self in motion, the community in motion, the spirit in motion, culture in motion, and especially the past in motion. Reviewing these major migratory patterns of Africans to and within the United States from slavery to the present and defining the primary tropes and traditions in African American female mystery writing, each subsequent chapter looks intensely at specific figurative locations that could become a repository for reconstituted dense space in the new world. Detectives as penned by African American women writers sound out and deliberate over the viability of integrated institutions, the family, Bohemianism, religion, cities, class consciousness, and finally culture. Courses on African American literature, African American history and culture, detective fiction, urban studies, and women’s studies would find the book instructive.
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3: Travel: Meditations on Postmodernism


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Over the last thirty years, Postmodernism has been discussed in Humanities Departments across the globe. African-American theorists such as Hortense Spillers, Houston Baker, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a score of others have deployed postmodern theory liberally to elucidate African-American texts. African-American female mystery writers have also dabbled with what it means to exist in a world culture where travel is more the norm than growing up in, living in and dying in one place. Slavery, Colonialism, war, famine and poverty have led to an international rise in mobility, so much so that we must constantly reconsider and renegotiate how we define our traditions and the assumptions that we form. These artists are attuned to this shift, although it is not the dominant issue that is most readily addressed. However, there is enough substantial commentary on Bohemianism and figuring out where one is positioned or should be positioned in a rapidly changing transnational cultural and economic map, so it’s worth exploring these notations about travel because they help us to understand what it means to search for a collective nesting ground for one’s ancestors, worldview and belief systems in a global arena that is in the midst of great flux. How, for instance, can a detective secure a toehold or establish a safe ← 47 | 48 → zone in a world that has trended toward mobility and the general expectation that migration has become the norm? Will her “sanctuary” be merely figurative? A site in cyberspace? An interactive blog...

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