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“La carne oscura de Fe”: Enfleshment and Subjectivity in Fe en Disfraz, by Mayra Santos-Febres

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Aligned with the proposal of Sylvia Wynter in “Human Being as Noun? Or Being Human as Praxis? Towards the Autopoetic Turn/Overturn: A Manifesto” (2007), Mayra Santos-Febres used fictional storytelling to uphold new modes of being in Fe en Disfraz (2009). In this novel, Fe Verdejo is an Afro-Venezuelan historian working in the United States who activates connections with enslaved female ancestors when she finds some of their personal belongings and writings. This article analyzes the story of Fe (Faith, in English) as an example of fictional storytelling that challenges historiography and opposes the dehumanization of black females. Fe en Disfraz explores history and suffering, key elements in Western philosophy’s delimitation of humanhood, to uphold black subjectivity. It portrays ancestry and spirituality as crucial elements to contemplate black womanhood. Being mindful of contextual differences, I put Santos-Febres’ representation of black womanhood in dialogue with scholarship on black subjectivity, like those of Frantz Fanon, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Winter, Alexander G. Weheliye and Michelle Wright. Beyond a debate on power and oppression from the standpoint of those who are marginalized in these discussions, both as subjects and contributors, I add to an ongoing examination of the role of creative literature in reevaluating academic knowledge production.

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