Ezili's Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders

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From the dagger mistress Ezili Je Wouj and the gender-bending mermaid Lasiren to the beautiful femme queen Ezili Freda, the Ezili pantheon of Vodoun spirits represents the divine forces of love, sexuality, prosperity, pleasure, maternity, creativity, and fertility. And just as Ezili appears in different guises and characters, so too does Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley in her voice- and genre-shifting, exploratory book Ezili's Mirrors. Drawing on her background as a literary critic as well as her quest to learn the lessons of her spiritual ancestors, Tinsley theorizes black Atlantic sexuality by tracing how contemporary queer Caribbean and African American writers and performers evoke Ezili. Tinsley shows how Ezili is manifest in the work and personal lives of singers Whitney Houston and Azealia Banks, novelists Nalo Hopkinson and Ana Lara, performers MilDred Gerestant and Sharon Bridgforth, and filmmakers Anne Lescot and Laurence Magloire--none of whom identify as Vodou practitioners. In so doing, Tinsley offers a model of queer black feminist theory that creates new possibilities for decolonizing queer studies.

About the Author

Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley is Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas and author of Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature, also published by Duke University Press.

"Ezili's Mirrors thoroughly and carefully mines the utility and uniqueness of multiple spiritual and thought traditions, aesthetics, and sources of knowledge. . .. Ezili's Mirrors is important because through it Tinsley shows us ways that black femme life and black queer life exists and asserts itself as other than the abject, the undesirable, the inappropriate, and the excessive."--Alexandria Smith "The New Inquiry" (4/11/2018 12:00:00 AM) "I have longed for a book as daring as Ezili's Mirrors."--Meredith Coleman-Tobias "Reading Religion" (9/10/2018 12:00:00 AM) "This pathbreaking work prompts Black feminist and queer diaspora scholars to use their academic training not as an endpoint, but as a point of departure, emboldening scholars to turn to whatever sources that are necessary to write books that will sustain alternative forms of knowing under increasing conditions of precarity in Black queer diasporic lives, loves, and labor."--Darius Bost "The Black Scholar" (9/1/2019 12:00:00 AM) "Once in a great while, a gem of a book comes along. It is not only elegantly written and astutely composed, compellingly and courageously argued, but it also opens up new and generative ways of looking at the African diaspora and the disciplines devoted to its study. I am talking about Tinsley's Ezili's Mirrors. I read the book with intense joy, on many levels: its theoretical polyamory, its dazzling methodology, its engrossing narrations, and the different senses it calls on."--Gloria Wekker "TSQ" (1/1/2020 12:00:00 AM) "Ezili's Mirrors makes an original contribution to the development of the field of queer black religion and to the ways in which this scholarship has a wider, public impact in the representation and self-understanding of queer-of-color spiritual communities whose members experience lives of constant fragmentation and recomposition daily, globally."--Roberto Strongman "GLQ" (1/1/2021 12:00:00 AM)

Publisher: Duke University Press
Pub date:
264 pages
Format: Paperback