In this latest episode of In Theory, Kristin Engelhardt interviews Dannelle Gutarra Cordero, Lecturer in African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University and Faculty Adviser at Forbes College, about her book, “She is Weeping: An Intellectual History of Racialized Slavery and Emotions in the Atlantic World” (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Her book examines the intellectual history of scientific racism and furnishes examples for the construction of an “Emotional Other” in intellectual discourses from its origins in the ancient world through the 18, 19 and 20th century to our present. Professor Gutarra Cordero also uncovers the dominating features of “White Storytelling” in history books and current media production and reveals the ambivalence within antislavery thought and Abolitionist movement that has entrenched the racialization of emotions within a biased white storytelling, rather than a true revision of a still persisting racialized emotional economy.

Of particular note is the addition of creative writing pieces that frame the different chapters. This book emerges as a harrowing study that questions the extent to which intellectual history can be held accountable for giving an unilateral perspective. By denouncing that, Gutarra Cordero stresses the importance of contextualizing, revising, and opening up broader perspectives on the intellectual history of emotions. The work ultimately argues that this shift can open up a space for emotional justice, within which black emotionality can attain its fullest expression.

Kristin Engelhardt, born in Hamburg, completed her BA studies in German and Italian Literature at the Universities of Hamburg and Geneva. As part of a double degree program, she received her Master’s degree in French and Francophone Studies from Humboldt University in Berlin and the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. Her thesis explores the reception of French Surrealism in the GDR and, in particular, the anthology Surrealismus in Paris. 1919-1939 by Karl-Heinz Barck, published by Reclam in 1986. Her general research interests include avant-gardes of the 20th century with a special focus on Surrealism, Menippean satire, authors of the early modern period, and Fashion Theory. She is currently working as an editor at rethink GmbH in Berlin.

Edited by: Kristin Engelhardt

Featured Image: “Esclava de Puerto Rico” (1777-78) by Luis Paret y Alcázar.