Faculty Advisor

Livingston, Grace

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2015


This work focuses on the former Black Panther, Assata Shakur, and her exile in Cuba. It probes Shakur’s identification with the maroon, or escaped slave, to examine how the experience of exile creates a sense of rootlessness and alienation from national identity, and how memory can come to reshape one’s inclusion within various “imagined communities.” Shakur occupies a liminal space, a borderlands existence, between the two nations in which she has lived. I trace her memories of the terror she experienced in the U.S, the ethnocentrism inherent in the act of becoming American, and how her imagination has been shaped by her experience in the borderlands. Because I locate Shakur’s identity in a borderlands framework, this work is a critical departure from nation-state centered histories that do violence to smaller histories that do not fit into a larger nationalist narrative. By centering my work around a borderlands figure that defies national identity by grounding her identity in a history of transnational Black resistance, I expose the violence of nation based histories, and provide a way to reimagine struggles for racial justice that move beyond the boundaries of nation-states to encompass an array of transnational actors.


University of Puget Sound