What is Afropessimism? Politics, Society, and Anti-Blackness
Afropessimism is everywhere, and nowhere. For some, it’s too absurd to consider; for others, it’s stark, inescapable realism. According to Frank Wilderson III, Afropessimism describes how anti-blackness is “necessary for world-making at every level of abstraction.” It theorizes blackness as both external to white civil society and necessary for its functioning and maintenance. Anti-blackness, in other words, is essential to the psychic health of all those who are not black, a situation that renders Black people as non-subjects in relation to the world. But what are the political and evolutionary foundations of Afropessimism? How does Afropessimism conceptualize the world, and what would it mean to ponder, or desire that world’s end? Furthermore, how might we position Afropessimism within/outside other critiques of reality like Feminism, Critical Race Theory, or Queer Theory? Can Afropessimism be conjoined with theories and practices of liberation? Or is it inescapably a politics of despair?
In this course we will consider the meaning(s) and genealogies of Afropessimism through its proponents and critics, all the while asking how we might mobilize its critiques for thinking about the social world. How does Afropessimism understand the role and workings of modern history, economy, class, and gender? What are its ethics? And can Afropessimism ever, as a theory and a politics, give us tools for envisioning and realizing its opposite: equality, justice, abolition—in short, racial optimism? Readings will include Jennifer Nash, Frank Wilderson, Saidiya Hartman, Patrice Douglass, Fred Moten, Frantz Fanon, Salamawit Terrefe, Greg Tate, and others.
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
July 12 — August 02, 2022
- New York/General
- New Jersey
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