All posts filed under: Issues

Contributors / Issue 32: Rest and the Rest: The Aesthetics of Idleness

Irene Alcubilla Troughton is a PhD candidate at Utrecht University within the Acting Like a Robot Project, where she researches on what theatre has to offer to the development of human-robot interaction and the design of robot behavior. She holds two RMA degrees in Media, Art and Performance, and Theory and Critique of Culture. Other interests include posthumanism, critical disability studies, and queer studies. Emily R. Bock is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago whose research is situated at the intersection of critical race theory, black studies, queer theory, performance studies, and ethnographic methods/writing. Her dissertation, Ordinary Queens: the ball, the streets, and the beyond of survival, is an ethnographic investigation of the everyday lives of members of the underground ballroom scene in Chicago and New York, tracking the diverse aesthetic and performative practices this community has developed for imagining, performing, and securing the “good life.” Before securing an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, Bock danced for choreographers and performance artists in New York City …

Cultivating (In)attention, Listening to Noise

by Emily Bock Featured image: Chantal Regnault, Legendary Voguer Willi Ninja wearing a Thierry Mugler body piece, 1989. Photo courtesy of the photographer. For twenty-five centuries, Western knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand that the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible. — Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music You’ve been invited to a ball. A friend texted you the flier earlier in the day with the address and descriptions of the categories and promises they will be there “on time” (a promise you know they won’t keep). When you arrive, a little before Legends, Statements, and Stars, you meander around the room looking for your friends’ house table to put down the few things you’ve brought along with you to survive the long evening (wallet, keys, phone, lipstick) and talk to folks about things neither of you will remember tomorrow. You won’t remember, not because the conversation is lacking in wit and energy; the opposite really. …

Cracks of Productivity: The Vitality of the “flesh” in Danzad Malditos

By Irene Alcubilla Troughton “Are we not in awe of this piece of flesh called our “body,” of this aching meat called our “self” expressing the abject and simultaneously divine potency of life?” —Rosi Braidotti1 Introduction Idleness is usually seen as the opposite of productivity, with the latter term being a common imperative in our Western capitalist society. In our work, social media interactions, even in our leisure activities, we are demanded to perform, to be in a constant state of productivity. This essay will offer a perspective on idleness by analyzing the cracks of productivity and how its failures can offer novel ways of dealing with this imperative.  Throughout this essay, such an analysis will be made by looking at a case study: the Spanish theatre play Danzad Malditos, a loose adaptation of Sydney Pollack’s 1969 movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? By means of reference to the scenes, the monologues, and the way in which the performance is structured, this essay will offer a practical example of how the vitality of flesh can be presented, …

The House That Ghosts Built (And Mediums Performed)

By Paula Vilaplana de Miguel Featured image: Seances, a popular entertainment in the late 19th century, under a red light. *The following work acknowledges that the phenomenon of haunting is neither uniquely Western nor exclusively related to the Spiritualist movement. Spiritualism, as many have noted, builds on previous histories of witchcraft, mesmerism, hoodoo, divination, and other cultural precedents. Haunting is a multifaceted phenomenon that has developed differently throughout the United States territory, too. Due to the hyper-abundant and multiple forms of haunting this work centers on a very determined timeframe and location: the birth and expansion of Spiritualism in the United States’ East Coast between 1848 and 1924, and the psychic mediums that popularized it Part 1: Trance TechnologiesFurniture and Prosthetics in the Victorian Haunted House Evenings at home in Spiritualist Séance1 The room is grim. The last light of day shyly brightens the furniture of the parlor: bookcases, chintz curtains, a large sofa, and a record player. The sitters gather around a wooden table and hold hands. The séance usually starts with the Lord’s …

Dolce far niente, Ärjä

by Nina Luostarinen Ärjä island is known for its long sand beaches, high shoreline cliffs and deep pine forests. The island is a geomorphically important ridge island on the Oulujärvi ridgeline in Kainuu area, Finland. Its cultural history includes ancient indigenous Sámi settlements with grazing grounds and ritual sites. Later it became known as a pirate base in the 1860s, for its pine tar runners, and, since the 1920, as a leisure location for forestry company’s holidaymakers (fig. 1).1 Ärjä is also part of the EU’s Natura 2000 natural territory program and a national beach protection initiative. The Ärjä Art Festival, established in 2018 by the art group Vaara, is a designated anti-festival that provides little in the way of material infrastructure, thus requiring visitors to carefully prepare their visit. As Ärjä island is a delicate nature destination, the event is grounded in a holistic ecological and low-emission approach, with the aim of using art to create new communal forms to engage and deal with the changing world: Experiencing, gathering, and multidisciplinary art forms open …

Apis Mellifera: Towards an Ecoaesthetics of Stillness

By Michał Krawczyk Humanity became the major geo-shifting force on the planet. The current epoch of the Anthropocene sadly affirms our disrupting engagement with the more-than-human world.1 The rates of endangerment among mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects, are overwhelming. Scientists have declared that we are living through the sixth mass extinction, although this piece of news is mostly unheard and unnoticed in our daily lives. Extinction as the backdrop to human life.2 A slow violence occurring “gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all”.3 Among the multitudes of agents enmeshed with us in multispecies relations, the position of Apis Mellifera, the honeybee, is instead highly visible. The honeybee is meaningful to us because our food production system is significantly dependent on their ecosystemic service of pollination. All bees belong to the order of Hymenoptera – ‘veil winged’ insects – which includes around 100,000 species, of which 25,000 are bee species. The social bees, …

Choreography of the Body’s Collapse: The Anti-Capitalist Politics of Rest

By heidi andrea restrepo rhodes Featured image: “Lady reading in berth with curtains down,” Geo. R. Lawrence Co., c. 1905, courtesy of the Library of Congress. The Brooklyn-based project, Rest for Resistance centers rest as crucial to healing work (it is so much work to heal!), bridging the vital importance of psychological and social support; and of individual and collective wellness for marginalized communities, including “Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Asian, Middle Eastern, and multiracial persons” and “LGBTQIA+ …trans & queer people of color, as well as other stigmatized groups such as sex workers, immigrants, persons with physical and/or mental disabilities, and those living at the intersections of all of the above.”1 Published by QTPOC Mental Health, a community justice initiative, the Rest for Resistance Zine features writing and photography that foreground rest as a deeply political activity. In Juhee Kwon’s piece, “We Are Not Machines”, Kwon reminds us that “we’re more complicated than a simple input (x) à output (y) kind of linear function”—questioning the correlations between overworking one’s self and how “success” is …

The Somnophile’s Guide to Cinema: An Interview with Jean Ma

By Amanda (Xiao) Ju, Jean Ma, Patrick Sullivan, and Madeline Ullrich Featured Image: Still from Cemetery of Splendour (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015). Jean Ma was the keynote speaker for the 12th Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Conference in 2019, dedicated to the theme “Rest and the Rest: Aesthetics of Idleness.” Since the inaugural event in 1995, the biennial conference has convened scholars from a variety of fields, such as film studies, museum studies, art history, and cultural anthropology, in accordance with the interdisciplinary approach of the program. This interview took place during Professor Ma’s visit to the University of Rochester in April 2019. Before the conference, students from the graduate program of Visual and Cultural Studies and the English department formed a reading group, which read and discussed parts of Ma’s first two books—Melancholy Drift: Marking Time in Chinese Cinema and Sounding the Modern Woman—as well as a portion of her current book At the Edges of Sleep, forthcoming with University of California Press. The excerpt combined writings from two chapters, both of which closely …

Introduction / Issue 31: Black Studies Now and the Countercurrents of Hazel Carby

Jump to Table of Contents by Joel Burges, Alisa V. Prince, and Jeffrey Allen Tucker Featured image: Ellen Gallagher, Bird in Hand, 2006. © Ellen Gallagher. Image © Tate. She was dismayed when she realized that what she wanted to imagine, what she was struggling to bring into being, now seemed beyond her reach. Was it improbable or impossible? What could she dream in a present of imminent environmental catastrophe? How could she sculpt the contours of a future when the future, any future, had been foreclosed?—Hazel V. Carby, “Black Futurities: Shape-Shifting beyond the Limits of the Human”1 In winter 2019, when Hazel V. Carby came to the University of Rochester (UR) as the Distinguished Visiting Humanist, no one knew global pandemic and large-scale anti-racist protests awaited us one year later in the spring, summer, and now fall of 2020.2 We did not anticipate the rise of an anti-immigrant visa crisis in higher education as we began to write this introductory essay, or the revelation of the death of Daniel Prude as we were finalizing …

Table of Contents / Issue 31: Black Studies Now and the Countercurrents of Hazel Carby

Joel Burges, Alisa V. Prince, and Jeffrey Allen Tucker, “Introduction: Black Studies Now and the Countercurrents of Hazel Carby” Hazel V. Carby, “Black Futurities: Shape-Shifting beyond the Limits of the Human” Alanna Prince and Alisa V. Prince, “What’s Haunting Black Feminism?” Jerome Dent, “Athazagoraphilia: On the End(s) of Dreaming” Patrick Sullivan, “Get Down: Funk, Movement, and the End of the Great Migrations” On Hazel Carby: Three Meditations Michelle Ann Stephens, “Attuned Within, Attuned Without: Hazel Carby and the Lessons of Leadership” Anne Anlin Cheng, “Susceptible Archives” Heather V. Vermeulen, “Studying with Hazel Carby” Black Studies Now Kathryn A. Mariner, “On Needing Black Studies” Cilas Kemedjio, “Black Studies and the ‘Ideology of Relevance’” Matthew Omelsky, “Being and Becoming: The Grammar of Black Theory” Brianna Theobald, “Black Studies in Haudenosaunee Country” Darren Mueller, “Black Studies in the Digital Crawlspace” Will Bridges, “Extirpation Is Not an Option: An Esperantic Vision for a Future of Black Studies from the Other Side of the Pacific” In the Imperial Archives with Hazel Carby Hazel V. Carby, “The National Archives” Pablo Miguel …

Contributors / Issue 31: Black Studies Now and the Countercurrents of Hazel Carby

Will Bridges is Associate Professor of Japanese at the University of Rochester. His scholarship has been recognized by the Fulbright Program, the Japan Foundation, the Association for Asian Studies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His first monograph, Playing in the Shadows: Fictions of Race and Blackness in Postwar Japanese Literature, was published in 2020 by the University of Michigan Press. He is currently working on two manuscripts. The first is The Futurist Turn: Anticipatory Aesthetics and Reimagining Possible Futures in Intertemporal Japans. The second is The Black Pacific: A Poetic History. He is also an author of creative nonfiction. Joel Burges is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, where he is also faculty in Film and Media Studies and Digital Media Studies. He is the author of Out of Sync & Out of Work: History and the Obsolescence of Labor in Contemporary Culture (Rutgers UP, 2018) and co-editor, with Amy J. Elias, of Time: A Vocabulary of the Present …

Black Futurities: Shape-Shifting beyond the Limits of the Human

by Hazel V. Carby Please follow each link to images, videos or sound as they occur because they are integral to the narrative. They thought they were tasting the future (which for some peopletasted like cardboard and for other people tasted like sugar).—Alexis Pauline Gumbs1 For the Africans who lived through the experience of deportation to the Americas, confronting the unknown with neither preparation nor challenge was no doubt petrifying. —Édouard Glissant2 Accumulation She was dismayed when she realized that what she wanted to imagine, what she was struggling to bring into being, now seemed beyond her reach. Was it improbable or impossible? What could she dream in a present of imminent environmental catastrophe? How could she sculpt the contours of a future when the future, any future, had been foreclosed? She read widely and absorbed what she read, which erased the last few misconceptions to which she clung. She thought she had rid her home of plastic only to find that microplastics rained down from the sky. She kept chemicals away from her house …

What’s Haunting Black Feminism?

by Alanna Prince and Alisa V. Prince Two Black Feminists Go For A Walk On a Wednesday afternoon, we walked down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, our hometown. We saw the center aisle of the street lined with older white people holding signs for Black Lives Matter and cheering each other on. Most cars passing by were honking. The sensation that we felt while passing by this scene is best characterized as when “Happy Birthday” is being sung to you, perhaps by people you don’t know very well. It’s directed at you but you just sort of wait it out awkwardly, unsure what to do with yourself until it’s over. Smile? Almost through the song and dance, a white woman walking toward us on the sidewalk stopped to share in the BLM hurrah with her peers. But moments after, as she approached us, she swiftly put her head down and ignored our hello. This is not atypical. It is a classic and frequent real life demonstration of the character of many white liberals. Their BLM fanfare …

Athazagoraphilia: On the End(s) of Dreaming

By Jerome P. Dent, Jr. In the introductory chapter of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, entitled “When History Sleeps,” scholar and activist Robin D.G. Kelley ties his own political engagement with his mother’s “dream of a new world,” an inherited belief “that the map to a new world is in the imagination.”1 In the remainder of the text, Kelley delves into the various political and cultural manifestations of this call to map out a social-political paradigm through the conscious act of imagining—a “nowhere” or “different future.”2 Thinking through what can be called the unconscious of this act of imagining and the dreamwork that is subsequently produced, I reconsider the consequences of this production.3 What if, as Anthony Paul Farley states, the production of the dream also “does the mental work that keeps the structure from falling apart?”4 Said another way, what if an end of dreamwork is to keep the dreamers dreaming? Though this may seem to effect a call to end the dreaming, it is rather a call to sit with that which …

Get Down: Funk, Movement, and the End of the Great Migrations

By Patrick Sullivan Funk is neither an essence nor a Black metaphysics but rather should be seen as a complex musical and aesthetic form that was created by Black artists to respond to and mediate Black experience at the end of the Great Migrations (1916-1970). Beginning in the early twentieth century and lasting through the postwar period, waves of migrating Black people left the South to urban centers of the North and West Coast, fleeing racism and pursuing economic opportunities. Their movement changed the demographic landscape of the United States. By the 1960s, this social movement began to wane. The promises of mobility were short lived. Black Americans who had come to northern and western cities faced racist economic structures: White flight, deindustrialization, limited community and educational resources, and the decimation of urban neighborhoods through expansion of the highway system. The decade’s series of riots index the social and economic disparity that Black Americans endured. Cities that once offered dreams of freedom became nightmares of social constraint. The end of the Great Migrations embodies a …

Attuned Within, Attuned Without: Hazel Carby and the Lessons of Leadership

By Michelle Ann Stephens I have always been someone who is most comfortable in her head. Whether daydreaming, fantasizing or developing an idea, time spent creatively in my own mind has always come easily. In these strange times, as we all live through stay at home orders and social distancing, that aspect of this global pandemic has not been difficult—time at home, around fewer people, with less obligation to be on the move, is more time to think. One of the more difficult aspects of academia for me has been its more competitive, performative, public face. My own books and scholarship I generated from the inside out, firmly centered in myself. On the public academic stage I find myself turned outward, focused on what others may think, speaking in order to address their concerns and needs. To the observer it appears as confidence, but the inward feeling is that it is based on air. While in the privacy of my own mind my thoughts are grounding, in the public space of academia all of that …

Susceptible Archives

By Anne Anlin Cheng In Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact and Exoticism in Modern America, a study of early Asian American sociologists who contributed to the birth of the famous Chicago School of Sociology, Henry Yu addresses the paradoxes of and for racialized intellectuals engaged in the construction of counter-narratives (that are sometimes narratives of self-identification) in the service of the production of academic knowledge. He reminds us that the racialized scholar is not free from “the ethnographic imagination,” defined as the task of “making a place seem strange and then gradually replacing the confusion with knowledge that make the place and the people seem familiar enough to be understandable and perhaps even admirable.1 What Hazel Carby has done in her new book, Imperial Intimacies, is to turn this insight inside out, making us see that it is not the packageable and digestible narratives of self-identification that may be risky but rather it is the impossibilities and the fractures of a narrative of self-identification that can contest history. It is the profound self-estrangement within Carby’s project—a schism …

Studying With Hazel Carby

By Heather V. Vermeulen October 27, 2019 Dear Hazel, I’ve decided to write you a letter. When I think about being your student, I think first of our conversations—in office hours, over coffee, via email—so this makes sense to me as a form.1 You are not one for nostalgia, let alone adulation. When I read the proposed title of this special issue, my reaction was I wonder what Hazel will think about it. Specifically, I imagined you taking issue with “currency.” To my mind, that word most immediately evokes financial transactions and, in the context of academia, the commodification, marketing, and compelled speeding-up of intellectual labor. It conjures a sense of urgency, or a potentially-profitable crisis, something upon which institutions might capitalize. I thought of Barbara Christian’s “The Race for Theory.”2 (An obsolete definition of “currency” is: “Fluency; readiness of utterance; easiness of pronunciation.”3) It struck me that your work has never been current, if “current” means popular and of-the-moment—symptomatic of the times, as opposed to diagnostic, prescient, and seeking alternative futures. If I had …

On Needing Black Studies

By Kathryn A. Mariner Featured Image: Protest at RPD, Rochester NY, May 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. As I was preparing comments for this roundtable toward the end of 2018, I felt a bit like an interloper because I realized I had never—at least in my formal undergraduate and graduate training—taken a proper Black Studies class. Perhaps as a result, I approach Black Studies a bit sideways. Indeed, being relentlessly “thrown against a white background” can certainly make one feel one’s color, and can install a sort of feeling of permanent interloper status, a sense of not really fitting anywhere, disciplinarily or otherwise.1 I have more like what Katherine McKittrick has referred to as a “clandestine degree in Black Studies,” which has involved a lot of self-study (both by myself and of myself).2 As an undergraduate, I was an Anthropology major, with a minor in Spanish and Portuguese, and the bulk of my coursework was actually comprised of Latin American Studies classes. And while I took various courses on “race” in both undergrad and graduate school, …

Black Studies and the “Ideology of Relevance”

By Cilas Kemedjio Featured Image: Pool of Freedom, Washington DC, August 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. The late Professor Francis Abiola Irele (1936-2017) delivered an inaugural lecture at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria on November 22, 1982, which traditionally gave the lecturer an opportunity to intervene in a scholarly conversation; in other words, it had been a purely academic exercise. However, Irele confessed that the specific circumstances of a newly independent country such as Nigeria had impacted this academic ritual, thereby requiring the intellectual to assert the relevance of his or her discipline in the larger undertaking of national development: A sense of social fact is therefore as necessary for us as for the politician and the administrator, perhaps in fact even more so, for in this environment, such hopes are invested in us as men of knowledge that our exercise of the academic calling must need to be informed by a lively sense for the future of our society, and it entails a concern for the practical effects of our efforts upon the real world …

Being and Becoming: The Grammar of Black Theory

By Matthew Omelsky Featured Image: Protester at the Rochester Public Safety Building, June 2020. Photo by Martin Hawk, part of Pressure Gradient. There’s a place in her 2009 essay, “Becoming Modern Racialized Subjects,” when Hazel Carby’s focus feels very much of our moment. Reading a series of early passages in The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Carby notes how, in the encounter with his European captors on the West African coast, a young Equiano is transformed into a kind of nothingness. In the moment of his racialization, she suggests, Equiano is rendered “cargo,” he’s “dehumanized.” “Terror and anguish follow Equiano’s realization of the fragility, vulnerability and possible annihilation of the self, and movement, speech and consciousness cease, registering his symbolic death.”1 The entirety of Equiano’s narrative is a kind of writing back to this moment of dehumanization, so that he might become something other than the abject, annihilated being he became in that inaugural encounter. He exudes, Carby goes on to say, a “constant urge to move beyond” the “body politics of …

Black Studies in Haudenosaunee Country

By Brianna Theobald Featured Image: Two young Mexican-American protesters at the 2020 Indigenous People’s Day rally at the Seneca town of Canawaugus. Photograph courtesy of Michael Leroy Oberg. In January 2019, the University of Rochester hosted a “Black Studies Now” roundtable, in which faculty members, joined by the distinguished feminist scholar Hazel Carby, assessed the current state of Black Studies at UR and imagined its future. The University of Rochester is located on the ancestral homelands of the Seneca nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; today, the university sits within a few hours of multiple Indian reservations. Carby alluded to this geography—and the exigencies of place—when she emphasized the importance of thinking through issues around indigeneity as we chart the future of Black Studies. What does it mean to think through issues of indigeneity? What does the concept of indigeneity offer Black Studies? We might begin with a definition. In colloquial terms, indigeneity generally refers to the status of being original—or native—to a particular place. International organizations have added greater specificity, even as they typically avoid …

Black Studies in the Digital Crawlspace

By Darren Mueller Featured image: I won’t be quiet so you can be comfortable, Washington DC, August 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. Let our rejoicing riseHigh as the listening skies,Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.—James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”1 Listen to pianist Jaki Byard. About seven minutes into Charles Mingus’s lengthy 1964 performance of “Fables of Faubus,” Byard’s solo emerges out of the slowly decelerating ensemble. He jumps from the dramatic to the playful to the playfully dramatic through quotation, interweaving a number of quick ascending scales between melodic fragments of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Dannie Richmond’s snare drum echoes Byard’s revolutionary invocation (7:30). Rather than the expected resolution to “Yankee Doodle,” Byard instead seamlessly transitions into “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Despite his hymn-like recitation, he dwells in restlessness. A few virtuosic flourishes travel into the highest range of his instrument (7:55) as if echoing the first stanza of James Weldon Johnson’s poem: “Let our rejoicing rise / High as the listening skies.” Eventually, Byard transitions back into a halting, even …

Extirpation is Not an Option: An Esperantic Vision of a Future for Black Studies from the Other Side of the Pacific

by Will Bridges Featured Image: Protestors on the steps of Rochester City Hall, September 7, 2020. Photo by Quajay Donnell. The promise is of “world-wide welcome” for the homeless and those yearning to breathe free. But Trump has no words of welcome for black folks from shithole countries, and he wonders why we can’t court more émigrés from countries like Norway. And, as if to prove he’s lost both rhyme and reason, he removes us from the Paris Agreement, even as the Institute for Environmental and Human Security of the United Nations warns that the world might see some one billion environmental migrants by 2050, with the peoples of Africa deemed “particularly susceptible” to climate displacement.1 But Elon Musk thinks we’ll be on Mars by then—by 2024, to be exact. For it is imperative that we, in this Musky vision of the future, become a “multiplanetary” species. But who, exactly, is the “we” here, and would this “we” be naïve to assume that “multiethnic” lies somewhere dormant and tacit but vowed within the multiplanetary? Musk …

The National Archives

By Hazel V. Carby Featured image: Windrush Stories exhibition at the British Library, 2018. Photo courtesy of Leon van Kemenade. I dressed conservatively; I did not appear to be a disruptive or unruly researcher. I was indistinguishable from the others who arrived at the National Archives early in the morning and who stood, patiently, waiting for the doors to open while swans, graceful in their every movement, nuzzled the weeds underwater. As they raised their long necks and droplets of water rolled on the surface of feather, I became aware of my own poor posture and straightened my spine. We who left late in the evening passed through doors that rapidly closed behind us, and did not notice swans. We marched together to and from the Kew Gardens Tube station everyday carrying computers and clutching umbrellas, too intent on our work to acknowledge each other with more than a brief incline of the head and half-smile. After leaving the locker room and climbing the stairs, all similarity with my fellow travelers ceased: they seem to parse the same historical manuscripts …

“Negros, aquí? Blacks, here?”: Blackness in the Mexican Archive

By Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva Featured image: Black Lives Matter, Washington DC, August 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. “If someone I found disappeared without explanation from a subsequent record, I hoped they ran, ran fast and far and re-named themselves so as to be forever hidden from capture by former owners and the archives.”—Hazel Carby, “The National Archives”1 I have a vexed relationship with colonial archives, especially those located in Puebla, Mexico, my hometown. For the better part of the last fourteen years, I have struggled with Puebla’s archives, with what they reveal and conceal. My work has focused on the intersection of slavery, freedom, urban spaces, blackness, and the social relations that gave meaning to all of the above. I have drawn deeply from the archive of the seventeenth century and am conscious of the violence embedded within it and cognizant of the dehumanization it enabled. And yet, I cannot help but wonder what Afro-Poblano history would be without the colonial archive. Indeed, in the wake of Professor Hazel Carby’s visit to the University of …

Archival-Futurism: Archives as Social Justice

By Miranda Mims Featured image: Inscriptions at MLK Park community installation “The Empire Strikes Black,” created by public artist Shawn Dunwoody. Photo by Quajay Donnell. There should be a space for alternative realities, alternative ways of knowing, in the archive. There should be room for imagining a world in which justice not injustice triumphed. —Hazel V. Carby, “The National Archives”1 As an archivist, reading Hazel Carby’s “The National Archives” is a reminder to me of the precedent on which archives were built, and the continual work we in the profession have towards transforming archival practices to reflect a social justice framework. Archives are spaces of truth and understanding as much as they are about secrecy and erasure. That which has been documented and preserved within a repository is so often duplicitous. Although archival practices have evolved, becoming more inclusive, the history of privileging the elite or powerful is still deeply entrenched in societal forms of racial and economic inequity and cultural hegemony. Archives are typically a reflection of the society in which they exist. Careful …

Knowing Yourself, Historically: An Interview with Hazel Carby

By Joel Burges, Jerome Dent, Alisa V. Prince, Patrick Sullivan, Jeffrey Allen Tucker, with Hazel V. Carby Hazel Carby was the University of Rochester’s 2018/2019 Distinguished Visiting Humanist. Since 2012, the Distinguished Visiting Humanist program has brought scholars and artists to campus for three to four days in activities that are both academic and public. This interview took place on the last day of Hazel Carby’s visit to University of Rochester in February of 2019, closing three days of formidable exchanges between Professor Carby and the Rochester community. During this three-hour discussion, graduate students and faculty from the university’s English Department and Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies engaged Professor Carby on her latest work, Imperial Intimacies, asking what inspired her to approach British imperialism through autobiographical writing, or what she calls “auto history.” The conversation centers on Carby’s imperative to think about ourselves as historical subjects. To trace this theme in her body of work, the interview covers her career trajectory from the United Kingdom to the United States, as she developed foundational …

Introduction / Issue 30: Poetics of Play

Artwork by contributor Iasmin Omar Ata. For Issue 30, the editorial board of InVisible Culture is honored to present a special introduction by Dr. Aubrey Anable. In my book, Playing with Feelings: Video Games and Affect, I make the claim that video games are the most significant art form of the twenty-first century.1 It was meant as a provocation and, by settling the matter, a call to move the discussion away from the question: are video games art? And toward the more interesting one: What do video game aesthetics do in the world now? This move takes its inspiration from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s definition of “reparative reading.” Interrogating the critical habits in the humanities that keep us fixated on taxonomies, ontologies, and what they hide, Sedgwick compels us to instead ask, “What does knowledge do—the pursuit of it, the having and exposing of it, the receiving again of knowledge of what one already knows? How, in short, is knowledge performative, and how best does one move among its causes and effects?”2 Paraphrasing Sedgwick we might …

Contributors / Issue 30 : Poetics of Play

Iasmin Omar Ata is a Middle Eastern & Muslim award-winning comics artist, game designer, and illustrator who creates art about coping with illness, understanding identity, dismantling oppressive structures, and Arab-Islamic futurism. Their recent graphic novel, Mis(h)adra, has resonated with readers and reviewers alike with its vivid and searingly honest account of epileptic lived experience. Iasmin has been reviewed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, The Electronic Intifada, Library Journal, NPR, and such; they’ve taught & spoken at the New York Public Library and Harvard University. They thrive on dedication, dreams, and hard work — and believe wholeheartedly in the healing power of art. Grant Bollmer is the author of three books, Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection (2016, Bloomsbury), Theorizing Digital Cultures (2018, SAGE), and Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction (2019, Bloomsbury). He is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at North Carolina State University, where he teaches in the Department of Communication and the Ph.D. program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM), and is an Honorary Associate of the Department of Media …