aCknowLedgments
This book is a product of the support, encouragement, and prodding of
two pivotal figures in my life: my writing partner and intellectual cocon-
spirator, Saidiya Hartman, and my mentor, role model, and perpetual
source of inspiration, Hazel Carby. These two extraordinary women shared
weekend writing retreats; personal notes; emails and long phone calls re-
plete with laughter and despair, defeat and rejuvenation, stubbornness
and resilience; as well as myriad forms of pep talks, tenacity, and audacity.
Through it all, they insisted that I write the “theory book” they knew I
had in me: a book I frequently questioned my capacity to write. Deborah
Thomas was and continues to be my cherished sounding board for gentle
but honest analysis and critique. She keeps me honest, tests my integrity,
and holds me to the uncompromising standard of clarity and compassion
she embodies both personally and intellectually.
Alongside these three individuals, I must also acknowledge the larger
cast of characters whose input and guidance have shaped this book in
immeasurable ways. I am indebted to the members of the Engendering
Archives Research Group at the Center for the Study of Social Difference,
particularly Marianne Hirsch, Inderpal Grewal, Anne McClintock, Yvette
Christianse, Mabel Wilson, Leo Spitzer, Jean Howard, Kellie Jones, Laura
Wexler, Kaiama Glover, and Celia Naylor. For more than five years, this
group of amazing scholars nurtured my inquiries and made me a far more
rigorous thinker.
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