Matthews, D. A. (2022). Enslaved Women and the Necropolitics of Quotidian Life: Against the Hegemonic Grain. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2627
In his seminal article published in 2003, Achille Mbembe defines necropolitics as “the suppression of life through death.” Necropolitics allows us to analyze the relationship between power and death, as sovereign subjects determine the political calculus and racial arithmetic of who may live and who must die. This thesis examines the necropolitics of everyday life–what I theorize as “quotidian necropolitics” by looking at how sovereigns “from below” enact death onto Black bodies, specifically Black women. My argument is threefold: 1. I theorize quotidian necropolitics–again, defined as the suppression of life through death–by actors from below, to examine, analyze and exemplify how necropolitics is enacted on the microlevel in everyday life and circumstances by White, cisgender, heterosexual male actors. 2. I argue that, unlike Mbembe, I believe sovereign powers are not just the state or the government but can be a person who wields unlimited power. In the Atlantic World, the dominant power is a White, cisgender, heterosexual, and often wealthy man. Through cultural and societal norms, privileges are granted to these individuals that create the perception that even though they are actors from below, they can transcend the law. 3. I assert that the four Black women I will be using as my case studies to discuss quotidian necropolitics are theorists in their own right. They are intellectual, political, and historical actors who have agency and are not passive figures in which atrocities are enacted upon them. I assert that by analyzing their experiences in the necropolitical realm of the Atlantic World, we can make tentative conclusions about how Black women can escape necropolitics in the present day. Quotidian necropolitics is a framework used to discuss the indiscernible anti-Black violence that Black individuals experience. This anti-Black violence ultimately results in death as death becomes a means to subjugate Black people.