New faculty books: Black womanhood and corporate branding, reexamining Indigenous earthworks and more (from UW News)

Read the full article by Lauren Kirschman on the UW News website. Start reading below…

When starting her latest book, Timeka N. Tounsel set out to write a cultural history of “Essence” — the first mainstream, glossy magazine aimed at Black American women. She wanted to explore “Essence” as a brand, making sense of how it started and evolved.

But during her research, “Branding Black Womanhood: Media Citizenship from Black Power to Black Girl Magic” blossomed into something much more comprehensive.

“Really it’s about when United States corporations started to understand Black women as a unique consumer niche,” said Tounsel, assistant professor of Black studies in communication at the University of Washington. “As I realized that was really the story I was telling, that’s what led me to this concept of Black Girl Magic.

“The book looks at how Black womanhood has been branded. How have images of Black women been monetized from this moment of Black Power, which is late 1960s, to this moment of Black Girl Magic, the moment that we’re in right now?”

“Branding Black Womanhood” was published in June by Rutgers University Press.

CaShawn Thompson, an author, social media influencer and educator, started #BlackGirlMagic in 2013 when she noticed how Black women and girls were being denigrated on Twitter. She wanted to establish a hashtag as a counter narrative, Tounsel said.

Reexamining Indigenous mounds through Native voices

In “Earthworks Rising: Mound Building in Native Literature and Arts,” Chadwick Allen reexamines Indigenous mounds by centering Native American voices.

Allen, professor of English at the UW, worked alongside Native writers, artists and intellectuals to highlight the accomplishments of North America’s mound-building cultures and draw attention to new earthworks.

The idea for the book stemmed from Allen’s first academic job as a professor at Ohio State University. He wanted to bring ancient Indigenous earthworks – burial, civic and ceremonial structures – into his literary studies classroom. He started looking for texts, artwork and performance pieces that engaged mounds and the principles that uphold their construction and use.

“Eventually, I also started actively looking for Indigenous engagements with mounds through built environments,” Allen said.

The result was “Earthworks Rising,” published in March by University of Minnesota Press. Each section of the book is organized around a descriptive category for Indigenous earthworks, which are effigy mounds, platform mounds and burial mounds. The sections also align with the three-worlds theory of mound-building cultures: an upper world, a surface world and a lower world.

On friendship and mangos in Mauritania

Katie Baird’s memoir “Growing Mangos in the Desert” documents four decades of life in a Mauritanian village, beginning when she joined the Peace Corps in 1984 and was posted to the village of Cive, Mauritania.

The book was published in June by Apprentice House Press.

“It’s a story that’s been with me for a long time,” said Baird, professor of economics at UW Tacoma. “My time in the Peace Corps was such an incredible experience. I have been back to the village a couple of times and every time I go back, my understanding of it changes because I have more information and can see what transpired with the passage of time.”

Mauritania gained independence in 1960, so it was a relatively new country when Baird first arrived. At the time, the village was going through a horrific drought that lasted decades, and villages were converting from rain-fed cereal grains to irrigated rice.

The death of Mamadou Konate, a man Baird worked most closely with while living in Cive, prompted her to write the book. Konate, who died in 2012, was a farmer from the slave caste who forms a central part of the book.

Continue reading more about each book…

By Meaghan Wood (She/Her)
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