Women's Mystery Writing and Migration in the African Diaspora
4: Family Compounds
| 69 →
Family in its broadest definition as a unit formed around intimate associations is the single most heralded route to recover a dense place in the African-American female mystery genre. That is: these novelists view kinship networks as a stone road, a series of pavement slabs in the guise of intimate associates that when linked point toward a regeneration of lost dense spaces. This makes sense because the original, socially and culturally saturated geographies in Africa were named so because they housed the experiences of the living, the memories and agencies of ancestral spirits (along with active natural entities such as lakes, animals, winds, and plants). While there is no apparent hierarchy between human and natural elements in the composition of these home realms, both are required in order for an actual physical plane to acquire the properties that constitute an interactive play between the living and the dead or unborn and between human and nonhuman actors. Efforts to reactivate this type of worldview emerged on the plantations and farms where enslaved Africans resided. Transported African-Americans could fairly easily learn to read and listen to nature as, for instance, Frederick Douglass does in his famous slave narrative.1 Sometimes this was the only type of education that enslaved Africans could claim, so the regard for and the link between human and not human survived as slaves trained their senses to be acutely attuned to the environment. However, reestablishing ancestral links was an altogether more ← 69 | 70 → challenging task because...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.