The 2021 Pop Convergence: A Virtual Pop Conference, April 22-25th
Artwork by Alex Nero; Design by The Art Dictator
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Zalika U. Ibaorimi

The University of Texas at Austin
PhD Candidate (African and African Diaspora Studies)
The (Ho)rror of It All: Ganja & Hess, Summer Walker and the Soundtrack of Ho Ontologies

Mireille Miller-Young postulates that hos exist as outcasts—part victim and part threat. The ho is articulated by Black feminist scholars and sex workers through triangulated dialectics which identifies the ho as the racialized sex worker permeated through the logics of Blackness, the self-determined or prescribed grammar through “non-normative” sexual decision-making practices or engendered through the “othering” of Black women determined by racialized scientific sexist logics. Her concept “ho theory” analyzes “the representation of working-class black women’s corporeal labors to insert themselves in the marketplace of desires, and to both take pleasure in and benefit from the fetishization of black women’s bodies.”In this essay, I use Mireille Miller-Young’s “ho theory” and what I term “ho ontology” to undrape the visual and sonic registers of the ho figure captured in Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess (1973) and Summer Walker’s debut album Over It (2019). This mapping tethers the affective logics of horror, desire, and pleasure to the spectatorial conceptualization of the ho figure’s corporeality and ontology.

Zalika U. Ibaorimi is a multidisciplinary artist, doctoral candidate of African and African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin and 2021-2023 Carter G. Woodson predoctoral fellow. She engages Black material and digital publics as the landscape to trace the human sexual geographies between the relationship of the Black femme and spectator. She uses Black gender and sexuality analytics to engage Visual Culture Studies through the logics of Black Porn/Sex Work Studies. She uses experimental approaches of research-creation to engage Black Study.