‘Don’t wait for permission’: Ava DuVernay as a Black female intellectual and political artist

Hagan, Teresa (2022) ‘Don’t wait for permission’: Ava DuVernay as a Black female intellectual and political artist. Comparative American Studies, 19 (1). pp. 43-62. ISSN 1477-5700

[thumbnail of Hagan_2022_CAS]
PDF (Hagan_2022_CAS) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (772kB) | Preview


Black intellectualism, particularly in the public sphere, tends to be associated with male figures from the academy. This trend risks excluding a broader range of viewpoints and traditions – particularly the contributions of Black women, artists and community organisers whose intellectual praxis has been wrought from experiences outside the academic paradigm. This article argues that filmmaker and activist Ava DuVernay should be recognised as a Black female public intellectual. It demonstrates how DuVernay uses her work to grapple with the racial histories, philosophies and ideologies which have permeated American history and society. An artist-intellectual-activist, DuVernay sits in a historical lineage of Black artists employing visual cultures to interrogate and resist the operation of racism in the United States. Her work centres and explores Black lives, particularly women, rendering Black characters as complex and multifarious – an act of intellectual rebellion against a hegemonic narrative that centres whiteness, a narrative which has long dominated mainstream film. Through intellectual labour adjacent to her filmmaking, DuVernay also works to promote the perspectives of women and people of colour as interventions in the national imaginary. Ava DuVernay’s work and approach demonstrate that a multiplicity of intellectual identities exist beyond the academy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding: This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > American Studies
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 12:30
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 09:58
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/85352
DOI: 10.1080/14775700.2022.2029332


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item