Watts, Alison Page
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An effigy, according to performance studies theorist John Roach, is an uncanny object that “summons the dead to enable the living to get a bearing on what they are becoming” (Roach 83). For writers, theorists and activists working to negotiate traumatic silences within the historical narratives that shape the Black Atlantic experience, effigies have the peculiar, uncanny potential to both stabilize and problematize formations of subjectivity and community. This ambivalent potential stems from the fact that the dead summoned by these effigies bear biographies that are partial, ambiguous, or even contradictory. By examining short fiction by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie (“Imitation”), Edwidge Danticat (“Nineteen Thirty-Seven”) and Veronica Henry (“My Soul to Free”), this paper will explore the symbolic and semantic role effigies play in relation to characters’ work of negotiating their identities and their position within social, cultural and historical frameworks.