This essay analyzes two African artifacts—a nkisi and a bieri—in order to parse the utility of liquidity as a Black feminist analytic. Enlarging the concept of media to incorporate these artifacts, the text links diaspora, blackness, and affect to the violence of colonial rupture, while also using an analytic of sweat to explore forms of expressivity that escape capture. Sweat becomes a way to think between two axes within Black feminist thought: the pornographification of the racialized body that Hortense Spillers and others have described, and the joy and critique embedded in Audre Lorde’s erotic, especially in relation to formations of diaspora and spirituality.
Sweat, Display, and Blackness: The Promises of Liquidity
Amber Jamilla Musser is a professor of American studies at George Washington University. Her research lies at the intersection of critical race theory, sexuality studies, and aesthetics. She is the author of Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism (New York University Press, 2014) and Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (New York University Press, 2018).
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Amber Jamilla Musser; Sweat, Display, and Blackness: The Promises of Liquidity. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2021; 7 (2): 92–109. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2021.7.2.92
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