Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture
Author: Badia Ahad-Legardy
The past as a building block of a more affirming and hopeful future
Cloth – $110
Paper – $26.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 04/12/2021
Cloth: 04/12/2021
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About the Book

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, she 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.

About the Author

Badia Ahad-Legardy is a 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.

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Freud Upside Down cover


"An important dissection of looking beyond the traumas of the past to find the happiness that existed (and exists) within the Black community. " --Library Journal

"This thoroughly researched book seeks and sheds light on the spaces where Black joy can live and flourish. Though its tone is academic, its insights reach far beyond the classroom.... a worthy addition to any multicultural studies library and to readers interested in American culture." --Museum of Americana

"Part Afrofuturistic, part academic, this book will make you rethink how you understand Black history and storytelling." --BookRiot

"Essential." --Ms. Magazine

"Author Badia Ahad-Legardy finds unique ways to explore the beauty, positivity, and triumph of people descended from Africa, creating an archival collection of visual art and culture, literature and performance to demonstrate how the Black experience is not just a depressing string of incidents that drives us through our lives. " --New York Amsterdam News

"Afro-Nostalgia does an excellent job of making visible the operation of Afro-nostalgia in contemporary Black culture as a counter to the negative affect produced by Black history as trauma." --American Literary History

"Ahad offers an insightful and instructive way to think about nostalgia with insight, encouraging a reflective engagement with nostalgia as a productive act, not merely a reactionary response to contemporary reevaluation of historical events." --Society for U.S. Intellectual History


"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