Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.
Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.
Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.
Campus-Only Access for One (1) Year
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Education (also CAGS)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Blackness and Black womanhood as a mark of one’s inferiority are ideas largely unopposed in American culture and therefore present an immediate challenge to any theory or epistemology that claims the contrary. For this study, I will present and justify Black mother-ethnography as a framework for speaking back to the notion of the inherent inferiority of Black femaleness in the American (and global) academic understanding. As a mother and a researcher, I will examine the intrinsic tensions of investigating the schooling experiences of my teenage son, as well as the experiences of two other Black boys with IEPs, as mother and researcher. I theorize about these overlapping/intersecting issues using the lens of womanism, Black feminism and critical race feminism. I draw from the principles of performance auto/ethnography which align seamlessly with the afore mentioned theoretical frames, and which provides the platform for resistance of white male dominance and the discourse of deficit that is used to generally characterize Black women, Black motherhood and Black scholarship.
The mother’s narratives were collected through semi-structured interviews/conversations, journals, educational artifacts and analytical memos. Using mother ethnography as both theory and method, I analyzed the lived experiences of these Black boys and their mothers from the mother’s perspectives, and highlighted the connection and sisterhood shared by Black women for each other and the shared pain and joy of othermothering of each other’s children.
Johnson-Anderson, Sonji, "MOTHER ETHNOGRAPHY: A PERFORMANCE OF POSSIBILITY" (2018). Doctoral Dissertations. 1250.