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Stephanie Y. Evans - “Black Women’s Historical Wellness: Yoga, Tea, and Traditions of Collective Self-Care”

photo of woman, book shelves in background
204 Caldwell Hall

Stephanie Y. Evans is a professor of Black Women's Studies and served as director of the Institute for Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University until 2022, concluding a dozen years of departmental administrative leadership. She is affiliate faculty in the Department of Africana Studies and the Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma and Resilience.

Her research interest is Black women's intellectual history, particularly mental health and wellness in memoirs. Evans is the editor of the Black Women's Wellness book series at SUNY Press and has authored three books: Black Women’s Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace (SUNY, 2021), Black Passports: Travel Memoirs as a Tool for Youth Empowerment (SUNY, 2014), and Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History (UF, 2007).

In this presentation, hosted by the Institute for African American Studies with support from the Institute for Women's Studies and the department of history, Evans will discuss the study of Black women's narrative histories of health, healing, and wellness. Evans explores what she calls #HistoricalWellness: Black women’s traditions of simultaneously practicing inner peace and working collectively to resist oppression. Specifically, she will answer the question, "How have Black women elders managed stress?" By illuminating histories of yoga and tea, Evans examine a long and complex history of what Angela Davis calls collective self-care.

In more than 50 yoga memoirs, Black women discuss practices of reflection, exercise, movement, stretching, visualization, and chanting for self-care. Similarly, over 320 narratives create a historical tasting map of black tea, green tea, senna, hibiscus, and iced tea from the African Savannah to Savannah, Georgia – and beyond. By unveiling the depth of a struggle for wellness, Dr. Evans explains how memoirs offer lessons for those who also are struggling today to heal from personal, cultural, and structural violence.

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