Dr. Carole Boyce Davies is professor of Africana Studies and English at Cornell University. Her major works include the prize-winning Left of Karl Marx. The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones and Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migrations of the Subject. Her most recent book is an edition of the writings of Claudia Jones titled Beyond Containment: Autobiography, Essays, Poetry. Her current project is a series of personal reflections, and academic essays titled Caribbean Spaces. Escapes from Twilight Zones dealing with the issue of transnational Caribbean/American black identity.
Her work examining the political life, writing, activism, and legacy of Claudia Jones (1915-1964), who was a pioneering Afro-Caribbean radical intellectual, dedicated communist, and feminist, uncovers one of the most important thinkers, activists, and organizers in African diaspora history. Boyce Davies has unearthed the work and struggles of this major figure, who might have remained in the shadows of history – buried to the left of Karl Marx in London’s Highgate Cemetery. But as Carole Boyce Davies argues – this location is fitting considering the ways that Claudia Jones expanded Marxism-Leninism to include gender and race in her political critique and activism.
I had the great privilege to meet Dr. Boyce Davies as a graduate student in 2006 at the ACWWS (Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars) conference in South Florida. I had already read her brilliant work Black Women Writing and Identity, which became not only a primary source of theoretical engagement for my dissertation and now book project, but also an affirmation of my own experience as a migrant Black mixed-race woman writer and feminist scholar. Her theoretical engagement with Black women writers I had read and studied and continue to read and study (and teach) made me a more careful and astute scholar and writer. And so I was (and still am) by all accounts a huge fan. She was the main organizer of this conference and as a result very busy – and so I never expected to meet her or even have a conversation. Much to surprise, not only did I get to meet her, she attended my panel and later asked me to submit my paper for review in an anthology (which was accepted and published in the collection Caribbean Woman Writer as Scholar). This was a major honor to be asked by a leading person in the field of Caribbean Studies to submit a piece of work. And what was even more exciting and inspiring for me as a graduate student was watching and learning from such a prominent scholar and writer who is so incredibly supportive of emerging scholars/writers. Since then, we have stayed in touch, met up at conferences, exchanged ideas, and reasoned about Caribbean politics and culture, literature, music, and art. She continues to be a mentor and an inspiration for me and many others.
|Carole Boyce Davies - Lecture at SU|
After the lecture, students and faculty asked engaging questions and then we had a lovely reception in the Department's lounge. Many of my students attended and were thrilled and honored to meet such a distinguished scholar. They told me after how excited they were.
The entire visit was a blessing for me - more reminders of how essential it is to have strong mentorships and friendships with fellow women of color in the academy in similar fields of study. She has offered me guidance over the years that continues to be invaluable for my career and well being. I appreciate her and am grateful to include her in my circle of comrades. It was a delight to share with each other about current projects. And we talked about the academy and small town USA places where some Caribbean people end up migrating and moving to - places she so powerfully calls "twilight zones" in her latest collection of essays. As she described her use of this metaphor to me, it all made sense - as we reasoned about how to stay healthy, well, and productive in these spaces that may be challenging and counter intuitive to health and well being. I am holding our reasonings close to my spirit as I wrap up another semester in a twilight zone - and meditate upon wellness and focus on productivity. With my scholarly book deadline around the corner, end of semester grading, and my summer travels on the horizon, I know that I must get it all done and get it done well. Thank you Carole for your inspiring wisdom!