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Rupture and Relation

A Workshop on Black Critical Thought


May 23-25, 2019
Northwestern University

The paradigmatic rupture of racial slavery and its continued reverberations across Africa and the African diaspora raise a set of pressing questions surrounding Global Blackness and the problem of relation. These questions have instantiated a renewed celebratory fervor surrounding the possibilities of a politics of relation, as well as a robust interrogation of its limitations, conditions of emergence, and presumed universality.

This workshop aims to critically examine the compulsory turn to transcendental relation as a mode of disciplining and organizing Black critical thought. Taking seriously the interventions of Afro-Pessimism, Radical Black Feminisms, and related modes of inquiry, we invite papers that respond to the workshop’s theme by attending to/complicating the matter of the “global” and (anti-)Blackness.

Call for Papers

Questions addressed throughout the course of the workshop included:

  • How do we account for the chasm between Black Studies and “Area Studies” (i.e. African Studies, Caribbean Studies, etc.)?
  • What theories of the “global” are provided by and contested in Black Critical Thought?
  • How do divergent conceptualizations of temporality complicate our understanding of the rupture?
  • How has the drive toward neoliberal inclusion and multicultural coalitions set the parameters of acceptable or heretic discourse and performativity within the broader field?
  • What kind of aesthetic and activist practices emerge out of skepticism about relational capacity and multicultural allyship?
  • How do we (at)tend to the violence that subsumes the Black intramural, and what purchase does the concept of ‘relation’ have in the intramural context?
  • What kinds of conclusions about relation can be drawn by foregrounding an analysis of structural position in o/apposition to embodied experience?
  • Does that attention to position provide a useful heuristic for attending to both the question of Black gender as well as the gender of Blackness?

“It was a rupture in history, a rupture in the quality of being. It was also a physical rupture, a rupture of geography.”

— Dionne Brand