“Can’t Find Any Use for Us Alive, Not Knowing We Can’t Die”: Radically Reimagining the (After)Lives of Black Women
Graduate Scholars Lectureship by Brendane Tynes
This presentation examines the gendered politics of grievability for Black women victims of state-sanctioned and interpersonal violence. Brendane Tynes examines the ways Black women and girls experience gendered violence after death, particularly how their lives are undone and redone to configure imaginations of womanhood, motherhood, and femininity. She discusses her definition of “imagined (after)life”: the imagined condition of the lives of those killed by state-sanctioned and interpersonal violence, whose “untimely,” violent deaths open up the space for projected desires. Building upon the work of Saidiya Hartman, Hortense Spillers, Selamawit Terrefe, Joy James, and other critical Black feminist scholars, Brendane asks: Under what conditions are Black women and girls—trans, cis, and gender-free—grievable victims of violence in and beyond Black communities? How are these conditions drawn from sociohistorical constructions of Black femininity? What could a radical reimagination of their (after)lives look like? To answer these questions, Brendane analyzes the symbolic-material figure of the Black maternal, locating her in ethnographic data and through the reimagination of Breonna Taylor’s and Korryn Gaines’s (after)lives. She ends with a call for a radical reimagination of the (after)lives of Black women and girls that remains with the fleshiness of their being, a politics of care that does not reinscribe anti-black, patriarchal violence onto the living or the dead.
Brendane A. Tynes (she/her) is a Black queer feminist scholar and storyteller from Columbia, South Carolina. She is an Anthropology Ph.D. candidate who studies the affective responses of Black women and girls to multiple forms of violence within the Movement for Black Lives. Her research interests include Black feminist anthropology, Black feminist critical theory, gendered violence, Black political movements, memory, and affect studies. Her scholarship has received generous support from the CAETR, Ford, and Wenner Gren Foundations. She has published essays in Feminist Media Studies and in the edited volume Researching Gender-Based Violence: Embodied and Intersectional Approaches (NYU Press, 2022). She co-hosts Zora’s Daughters Podcast, a Black feminist anthropological intervention on popular culture and issues that concern Black women and queer and trans people.