Naked Agency explores the political significance, the cultural underpinnings, the artistic restaging, the global implications, and the conceptual complexities of a gesture. The social power of the gesture can best be understood in the context in which shame is the central component in the structuration of relations and in which the adult female body is considered as housing potent forces. By revealing their tabooed body parts or threatening men with menstrual cloths, accompanied by incantations of curses, the women are said to be unleashing the forces that reside therein, causing their male targets a myriad of misfortunes, including impotence, infertility, incurable diseases, and literal or social death. In the book, I establish the historical life of this gesture. Although documented since medieval times in Africa Diabate , accounts of public demonstrations involving the gesture flourished during the active anti-colonial era ss , in the democratic awakening of the s, and again in the s during what Achille Mbembe has called the necropolitical era, which registered the highest number of naked protests.
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More about this series. Author: Naminata Diabate. Naked Agency offers a rich analysis of the many potential meanings of defiant disrobing as a signifying shorthand in relation to questions of agency within, but also potentially outside of an African context. She also makes a strong case for avoiding the problems found in most writings on African women of seeing women as either victims or heroic agents while doing an especially great job of exposing the double-edged nature of secularization in the postcolonial world.
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