The weave of youth writing: Refiguring authorship and self-representation in Michaela DePrince’s collaborative archive of life narrative texts
School of Arts and Humanities
Young people have to struggle in navigating the complex cultural and socio-political frameworks of production if they would like to reclaim agency and legitimacy to voice their aspirations. This article focuses on questions of authorship and self-representation in both the traditional and digital life writing texts created by and produced for Sierra-Leonean-American ballet dancer Michaela DePrince, which turns out to be highly mediated by her Jewish Caucasian adoptive mother Elaine DePrince. I argue that the manners of Michaela’s collaborative archive of life narrative projects–which bring about issues of authorship–have conformed her self-representation to particular identity frames in terms of race, power, and access to the tools of representation. Correspondingly, through her traditional and digital advocacy, Michaela has performed as a narrator who depicts white privilege and colourblindness in order to appeal to the white middlebrow audience, while at the same time reinforcing the market value of black trauma. © 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.