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Bodies in the Middle

Black Women, Sexual Violence, and Complex Imaginings of Justice

Maya Hislop

Published: Jul 11 2024


Published: Jul 11 2024


Published: Jul 11 2024

OA Ebook
Published: Jul 11 2024


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

A probing analysis of Black women's attempts to pursue justice for sexual-violence victims within often hostile social and legal systems

In Bodies in the Middle: Black Women, Sexual Violence, and Complex Imaginings of Justice, Maya Hislop examines the lack of place that Black women experience, specifically when they are victims of sexual violence. Hislop uses both historical and literary analyses to explore how women, in the face of indifference and often hostility, have sought to redefine justice for themselves within a framework she calls "Afro-pessimistic justice." Afro-pessimism begins from the belief that Black life in America, and in turn the American justice system, is constrained within a framework of anti-Blackness meant to enforce white supremacy. Inspired by the work of Black-studies luminaries such as Orlando Patterson, Sylvia Wynter, and Fred Moten, Hislop asks what justice can look like in the absence of total victory and how Black women have attempted to define alternative paths to a just future.

Maya Hislop is assistant professor of English at California Polytechnic State University. Her work has appeared in Law and Literature and Women's Studies.

"There is a dearth of scholarship on Black women and sexual violence. Bodies in the Middle offers a new perspective on how Black women seek justice in the context of rape and represents an exciting contribution to the field."—Carolyn M. West, author of Violence in the Lives of Black Women

"Hislop does an amazing job of situating the concerns amid the #MeToo movement and other discussions around sexual violence within a historical and literary analysis that explores the deeper roots of these contemporary struggles for justice."—Heather Duerre Humann, author of Domestic Abuse in the Novels of African American Women

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