Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

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Mary Ellen Pleasant and the performance of a lifetime
by Allen, Nichol, M.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2016, 88; 10127607
Abstract (Summary)

Due to Pleasant’s unnatural racial integration into San Francisco social structure the legitimacy of her character was always called into question. Pleasant performed repressive stereotypes in a way that made her rich and powerful, but ultimately brought her to ruin. Studying her teaches us about the ways in which African Americans performed these stereotypes as a means to survive and even thrive, paradoxically, by performing these stereotypes, also maintained repressive racial hierarchies. Pleasant in particular, and African Americans in general, were always in danger of having their performances turned against them. In this regard, these archetypes were akin to Jim Crow laws: they created racialized spaces within which African Americans could build prescribed identities. These racialized archetypes, also like Jim Crow laws, allowed the dominant culture to indiscriminately use real or imagined racial transgressions to punish and thereby further maintain racial hierarchies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harris, Jessica
Commitee: Cali, Elizabeth, DeSpain, Jessica, Stacy, Jason
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: Historical Studies
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 55/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: History
Keywords: Abolitions, philanthropist, Civil rights, Mary ellen pleasant
Publication Number: 10127607
ISBN: 9781339856391
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