This presentation poses the question of what can we, in today’s post-slave trade world, learn about the relationships between race and gender when applying Lugones and Spelman’s philosophical arguments on feminist theory into the context of Mary Prince’s unique experiences and subsequent publishing? Close examination of Prince’s narrative and the events that led to its publication will illuminate the double bind she faced as a woman of color, which can help us understand structures of privilege and oppression today. Mary Prince, an enslaved woman from the West Indies, originally published The History of Mary Prince in 1831. Abolitionist groups shared her personal narrative as a way to fuel the anti-slavery movement, and thus Prince’s History became an influential part of the Black literary canon. Applying the theories of Lugones and Spelman’s “Have We Got a Theory for You!” (1983) can help contemporary readers understand the complicated intersections of race and gender in Prince’s History. Their main argument calls for a genuine dialogue between women of different cultures, races, and ethnicities in order to culminate their collective experiences into a cohesive feminist theory: one that does not exclude any category or subgroup of women. Now, while this seems challenging at best and impossible at worst, their ideas can help one understand and interpret how Prince’s History came to be. There was a dialogue that took place between white editors and the illiterate Prince in order to write down the details of her story. While we will never be privy to these long past conversations, we know that this narrative was historically used as political propaganda, which further complicates our understanding of Prince and these structures of power.
Lisa Ann Robertson
English, Philosophy, Women's Studies
Koehler, Emma, "Lugones, Spelman, and Prince: Learning from Intersections of Race and Gender" (2021). IdeaFest. 389.