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From Black Woman to Black Power: Gender Politics in the Works of Barbara Jones-Hogu


As a member of the black artists' collective Africobra, Barbara Jones-Hogu created screen prints that promoted the values of black power movements through vivid textual and iconographical content. This essay examines representations of men, women and family in the artist's prints, to evaluate and explain the role of gender in her artistic project for social change. This essay argues that Jones-Hogu's prints espouse conservative gender politics as part of a project of strategic essentialism, deployed to displace the pathologized image of black society perpetuated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan's The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (1965). While her works utilize representations of women as instruments in this project, they also depict female subjects as empowered participants in its enactment. The negotiations of female agency and conservative gender politics in Jones-Hogu's work thus underscore the importance of women to Africobra's project for black unification and uplift - and, by extension, Black Nationalist ideology.

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