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Department for Afroamerican and African Studies pres.

DAAS Diasporic Dialogues: “Theatre, Womanist Knowledge-Making and Violence in Jamaica: Witnessing A Vigil for Roxie.”

Nicosia Shakes (Africana Studies The College of Wooster)

In this talk, Nicosia Shakes analyzes a 2015 performance of the play, A Vigil for Roxie, co-created by Jamaican theatre artists, Carol Lawes, Eugene Williams, Honor Ford-Smith and Amba Chevannes. As part of the Memory, Urban Violence and Performance Project founded by Ford-Smith, Vigil for Roxie draws on the memorial practices of working-class Black Jamaican women who have lost loved ones to gang and state violence over the past three decades. Shakes utilizes a womanist paradigm to explore the racial, economic and gendered dimensions of memory, healing and justice as depicted in Vigil. By representing experiences of gang and state violence through the bodies and voices of Black women, Vigil challenges mainstream male-centered understandings of violence while creating a holistic vision of social justice involving the community, nation and wider region of the Americas.


Nicosia Shakes is Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at The College of Wooster. Her book manuscript, Gender, Race and Performance Space: Women’s Activism in Jamaican and South African Theatre, won the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize in 2017, and is under contract with UIP.

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