Torsdagsseminariet: A Treason Against Goodness and an Argument for Death
- Date: –15:00
- Location: Centrum för genusvetenskap 12:07 (KWB)
- Lecturer: Jan-Therese Mendes, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Stavanger, Norway, and Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender & Sexuality, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Organiser: Centre for Gender Research
- Contact person: Elina Nilsson
Welcome to our open seminar series, the Thursday seminars. The seminars reflect the breath of gender research and touch upon different research areas.
A Treason Against Goodness and An Argument for Death: Re-visiting the “Bad Black Mother”
Jan-Therese Mendes, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Stavanger, Norway, and Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender & Sexuality, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
About the seminar: By interrogating case studies from Canada, Norway, and Sweden I have elsewhere explored how i. the racist trope of the “bad Black mother” is weaponized to dismiss Black distress and, ii. a sacrificial Black maternal love disrupts the racist logics that decide the Black mother’s badness. In this lecture, I pursue a new direction of analyses that seeks to trouble both the racist-patriarchal ethic of good motherhood and Black feminist readings of resistive maternal love by: meditating on the unremitting toils of goodness and the relentless hauntings of badness that torment Black mothering subjects. At its core, this lecture pursues an experimental autoethnographic reading of my Mother’s “sacrificial” death and the “evils” of my Stepmother in the familial afterlife of my Mother’s life. By provocatively complicating understanding of goodness and badness, love and lovelessness, sacrifice and cruelty, I interrogate death as a form of escape covertly welcomed by the mothering subject who seeks reprieve from the “too much” of racial-maternal logics. Furthermore, I make room for badness as a perfectly fine response to the bad situation of good motherhood’s devouring coercions and the demands of love. Extracting slightly from the autoethnographic this lecture will then turn to examples from Black visual culture that help us to visualize the affective ambiguity or, ordinary imperfections of Black motherhood, beyond the binary of goodness and badness.
About the presenter: Jan-Therese Mendes holds a PhD in Social and Political Thought from York University, Canada (2019). Mendes was the 2020-2021 visiting scholar with the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in studies of gender and race with the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Stavanger. Mendes’ research examines Northern welfare states’ penal fixation on the Black womb, Black mournability, pedagogies of assimilation and humiliation, and the possibilities of willful strangeness in Black visual art and Black visual culture. As of January 2023, Mendes will begin as an Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in studies of gender and sexuality.