Cover for AHAD-LEGARDY: Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture. Click for larger image

Afro-Nostalgia

Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture

The past as a building block of a more affirming and hopeful future

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.


"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

"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


Badia Ahad-Legardy is an associate 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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