UC Santa Cruz anthropologist and author of Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Anti-Blackness, + Schooling in San Francisco, Savannah Shange in conversation with members of the Black/Girlhood Imaginary Working Group.


In conversation with Dr. Savannah Shange (Assistant Professor in Anthropology at University of California, Santa Cruz), the Black/Girlhood Imaginary working group will have an open discussion related to Black feminisms, methodologies, and Black girlhood. We theorize “Black/Girlhood Imaginary” through temporality, embodiment, performance (Taylor, 2003), and confinement. We believe that, as thriving Black feminist scholars, “Black/Girlhood Imaginary” illuminates the space, the chasm, the fissure, and the interstices of Black girlhoods. In order to continue to investigate this imaginary—this rupture birthed out of Black feminism (Collins, 1990)—we will use this conversation as an opportunity to work through our framework. We draw from Dr. Shange’s most recent article, “Black Girl Ordinary: Flesh, Carcerality, and the Refusal of Ethnography,” and her forthcoming book, Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Antiblackness, and Schooling in San Francisco (2019). Our discussion includes central questions regarding what is at stake for Black girls in a progressive era of education and what methods offer insight into their lives. More specifically, we ask questions in regard to Shange’s development of ethics and accountability when conducting an ethnography that engages Black girls. Finally, we will learn from Dr. Shange how Black girls refuse and utilize those refusals to navigate the landscapes of power relations in a dystopic progressive politic


Black/Girlhood Imaginary Bio

As a Black feminist collective of doctoral students, Kenly Brown (PhD Candidate in African American and diaspora studies), Lashon Daley (PhD Candidate in performance studies), Derrika Hunt (PhD Candidate in education) critically engage theoretical frameworks and qualitative analytics to conceptualize their methodology, Black/Girlhood Imaginary (B/GI). In order to investigate this imaginary—a rupture birthed out of Black feminism (Collins, 1990)—they use B/GI as a multivalent prism that aids in recovery of the losses, the underminings, the layered violences, the joys, and the embodied experiences of Black girls. As a methodology, B/GI weaves both the fullness and fissures of Black girlhoods—opening up space for Black girls to recover their own images. In addition, B/GI operates as a creative space to work through the many facets of Black girlhood. They have shared their work at the National Women’s Studies Association conference, and have held public forums in conversation with Dr. Nikki Jones, Dr. Aimee Meredith Cox, and forthcoming with Dr. Savannah Shange. More recently their article entitled, “Disruptive Ruptures: The Necessity of Black/Girlhood Imaginary,” is currently under review.


Dr. Savannah Shange Bio

Savannah Shange is a Black queer feminist scholar who works at the intersections of race, place, sexuality, and the state. She is assistant professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz and her research interests include gentrification, multiracial coalition, ethnographic ethics, Black femme gender, and abolition.  She earned a PhD in Africana Studies and Education from the University of Pennsylvania, a MAT from Tufts University, and a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.  Her first book, Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Anti-Blackness and Schooling in San Francisco (Duke 2019) is an ethnography of the afterlife of slavery as lived in the Bay Area.  Previously, her research has been published in Women and PerformanceThe Black Scholar, Transforming Anthropology, and The Feminist Wire.