Race, gender and nation written in poetry, prose and journal-form.


Performing Female Blackness examines race, gender, and nation in Black life using critical race, feminist and performance studies methodologies.

This book examines what private and public performances of female blackness reveal about race, gender, and nation and considers how the land widely known as Canada shapes these performances. By exploring Black expressive culture in familial, literary, and performance settings, Naila Keleta-Mae theorizes that “perpetual performance” forces people who are read as female and Black to always be figuratively on stage regardless of cultural, political, or historical contexts. Written in poetry, prose, and journal form and drawing from the author’s own life and artistic works, Performing Female Blackness is ideal not only for scholars, educators, and students of the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts but also for artists and the general public too.


“What I love most about this book is that even as a non-Canadian I can see myself in it. I would argue that even other minoritized people can relate to the idea of having to ‘perpetually perform’—to shift between being and being read by society. Like the best of DJs, Naila Keleta-Mae mixes and spins a deft, poetic, fluid, and moving collaged narrative of theory, lived experience, literary and performance analysis, and multiple performances to tell her own story. In the process, she also illustrates a diverse, global journey of female blackness borne out of the chattel slave trade.”—Rashida K. Braggs, Williams College, author of Jazz Diasporas: Race, Music, and Migration in Post-World War II Paris

“With elegant depth and breadth Naila Keleta-Mae brings together the most influential Black feminist thinkers as she masterfully adds her own distinctive and groundbreaking conceptualizations of performance, political economy, and metaphysics under past and present resonances of colonialism and chattel slavery. The insightful and theoretical depth of this book offers an elegant and absorbing exegesis on female blackness that is new, different, and profoundly relevant across multiple disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. The author’s conceptualization of ‘perpetual performance’ is brilliantly illuminated against machinations of modernity, forced labor, and advanced capitalism as well as the generative strategies of language, silence, and performance.”—D. Soyini Madison, Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University, author of Acts of Activism: Human Rights as Radical Performance