Chicken--both the bird and the food--has played multiple roles in the lives of African American women from the slavery era to the present. It has provided food and a source of income for their families, shaped a distinctive culture, and helped women define and exert themselves in racist and hostile environments. Psyche A. Williams-Forson examines the complexity of black women's legacies using food as a form of cultural work. While acknowledging the negative interpretations of black culture associated with chicken imagery, Williams-Forson focuses her analysis on the ways black women have forged their own self-definitions and relationships to the "gospel bird."
Exploring material ranging from personal interviews to the comedy of Chris Rock, from commercial advertisements to the art of Kara Walker, and from cookbooks to literature, Williams-Forson considers how black women arrive at degrees of self-definition and self-reliance using certain foods. She demonstrates how they defy conventional representations of blackness in relationship to these foods and exercise influence through food preparation and distribution. Understanding these phenomena clarifies how present interpretations of blacks and chicken are rooted in a past that is fraught with both racism and agency. The traditions and practices of feminism, Williams-Forson argues, are inherent in the foods women prepare and serve.
"[Williams-Forson's] interdisciplinary methods--incorporating literature, print culture, history, personal interviews, and media studies--yield fascinating insights. . . . ["Building Houses out of Chicken Legs"] shows the potential of interdisciplinary study of food culture."-"American Quarterly"
|Encounters with the Bird|
|We Called Ourselves Waiter Carriers||p. 13|
|"Who Dat Say Chicken in Dis Crowd": Black Men, Visual Imagery, and the Ideology of Fear||p. 38|
|Gnawing on a Chicken Bone in My Own House: Cultural Contestation, Black Women's Work, and Class||p. 80|
|Traveling the Chicken Bone Express||p. 114|
|Say Jesus and Come to Me: Signifying and Church Food||p. 135|
|African American Women and Gender Malpractice|
|Taking the Big Piece of Chicken||p. 165|
|Still Dying for Some Soul Food?||p. 186|
|Flying the Coop with Kara Walker||p. 199|
|Epilogue: From Train Depots to Country Buffets||p. 219|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
Number Of Pages: 312
Published: 1st June 2006
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.49