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This article analyses the (re)construction of black identity as a multiracial signifier shared by African, Asian and Caribbean women in Britain, from the framework of recent social movement theory. The collective identity approach calls attention to naming as a strategic element of collective action, but has overlooked the experiences of black women at the intersection of multiple systems of oppression. A focus on the process of constructing black womanhood allows us to move beyond static and unidimensional notions of identity to question how and why gendered racialized boundaries are created and maintained. I argue that multiracial blackness should be viewed as an oppositional identity, strategically invoked by black women activists in order to mobilize collective action. Drawing on everyday theorizing by black women, the article examines the shift from the policing of authenticity claims, to a more open and fluid collectivity, and suggests that explicit interrogations of identity are a prerequisite for effective and sustainable alliances between divers movement participants.


This article was originally published in Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24:1, pp. 29-49 in 2001.

Julia Sudbury has since changed her name to Chinyere Oparah. She has also published under Julia Oparah