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The past as a building block of a more affirming and hopeful future
As early as the eighteenth century, white Americans and Europeans believed that people of African descent could not experience nostalgia. As a result, black lives have been predominately narrated through historical scenes of slavery and oppression. This phenomenon created a missing archive of romantic historical memories.
Badia Ahad-Legardy mines literature, visual culture, performance, and culinary arts to form an archive of black historical joy for use by the African-descended. Her analysis reveals how contemporary black artists find more than trauma and subjugation within the historical past. Drawing on contemporary African American culture and recent psychological studies, Ahad-Legardy reveals nostalgia’s capacity to produce positive emotions. Afro-nostalgia emerges as an expression of black romantic recollection that creates and inspires good feelings even within our darkest moments.
Original and provocative, Afro-Nostalgia offers black historical pleasure as a remedy to contend with the disillusionment of the present and the traumas of the past.
Badia Ahad-Legardy is an associate professor in the Department of English and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of Freud Upside Down: African American Literature and Psychoanalytic Culture.
"If you’ve been waiting for a book that steps out of trauma-time and the perpetual present of slavery clear-eyed and with its critical faculties alight, you’ve found it. Badia Ahad-Legardy breathes gentle and sweet smelling fresh air into stale corners in her book on Afro-Nostalgia, which cogently analyzes and affectively affirms Black cultural producers and chefs who treat the past less as an ongoing traumatic wound and more as a surrealistic space of black historical regenerative possibility and happiness. A gem."--Avery Gordon, author of Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination