A matter of consciousness – Introducing Zora Neale Hurston and Katie G. Cannon

  • Hans S.A. Engdahl


This article involves a close reading of two African American authors, Zora Neale Hurston, an acclaimed novelist and Katie Cannon, an influential  theological ethicist. Texts from Steve Biko on black consciousness and from James Cone on liberation theology are used as methodological tools in  trying to ascertain the degree to which Hurston and Cannon espouse a black (womanist) consciousness. A strong resonance of black consciousness  will indeed be found in Hurston’s and Cannon’s texts. The conclusion drawn is that not only is there a resonance of black consciousness, but both  writers also give proof of a black womanist consciousness that reveals new knowledge. Cannon’s oeuvre also begs the question of epistemological  privilege. In addition, an animated critique is registered between these women scholars and male colleagues, in the world of fiction (Richard Wright)  and academia (white European males).

Contribution: This article demonstrates a link from South African black consciousness (Biko) to black  womanist thinkers in the United States (Hurston and Cannon). A connection is also made between male, black liberation theology (Cone) and black  womanist thinking, while expounding the womanist approach, liberated from (white) male dominance, on par with all others.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2072-8050
print ISSN: 0259-9422