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AfromodernismsParis, Harlem and the Avant-Garde$
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Fionnghuala Sweeney and Kate Marsh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748646401

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748646401.001.0001

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Asymmetrical Possessions

Asymmetrical Possessions

Zora Neale Hurston and the Gendered Fictions of Black Modernity

(p.126) Chapter 5 Asymmetrical Possessions

Samantha Pinto

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses Zora Neale Hurston's framing of spirit possession. In exploring the aesthetic politics that inform Hurston's Tell My Horse, it invokes a characterisation of asymmetry — ‘the abrupt and unexpected changes that characterize race and gender's relationship to modernity’ — as a method of unpicking Hurston's innovative critiques of existing orders of modernism. Reading through a black feminist critical model, the chapter suggests that in her writing about Haiti and Jamaica, by denying the teleology of racial and gendered progress, and suggesting simultaneities of difference within black Atlantic culture, Hurston succeeds in asymmetrically ‘possessing’ modernity.

Keywords:   spirit possession, politics, Tell My Horse, asymmetry, modernism

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