Skip to content

Institute of Contemporary Art Miami


SA Smythe in conversation with Nicholas R. Jones: “The Black Mediterranean”

Art + Research
Virtual Events
Wed, Apr 6, 2022

ICA Miami welcomes poet and scholar SA Smythe and prof. Nicholas R. Jones to the Knight Foundation Art + Research Center for a conversation on the “Black Mediterranean.” This virtual lecture is free and open to the public with advance RSVP and is presented in conjunction with the ICA Miami’s Spring 2022 semester.

The Black Mediterranean is increasingly known as one way of understanding Black life and histories both within and beyond the racial geographies that circulate the Mediterranean. This conversation between scholars Dr. SA Smythe and Nicholas R. Jones will discuss the ongoing colonial logics of xenophobia, antiblackness, and racial capitalism undergirding Europe’s self-initiated migration “crisis.” Specifically, Smythe reads collaborative sites of contemporary Black struggle in Italy as well as Black Italian women’s writing to emphasize intertwined Black and migrant experiences and the tensions between citizenship/state recognition and what it otherwise means to belong. This transdisciplinary analysis aims to historicize the presence and politics of Blackness in Italy and at sea with an analysis of literary and other political responses to the violence of national borders and Europe’s economics- driven (de)valuation of human life. Drawing on Black trans thought, the Caribbean and other Black diaspora thinkers, and the poetics of abolition, Smythe theorizes oceanic crossings, arrival, Black belonging, and other diasporic attachments.

About SA Smythe

SA Smythe is a poet, translator, and assistant professor of Black European Cultural Studies, Contemporary Mediterranean Studies, and Black Trans Poetics at UCLA, where they research relational aspects of Black belonging beyond borders. They are also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Applied Transgender Studies. Smythe is the editor of Troubling the Grounds: Global Configurations of Blackness, Nativism, and Indigeneity special issue for Postmodern Culture, and the forthcoming book, Where Blackness Meets the Sea: On Crisis, Culture, and the Black Mediterranean. Also forthcoming is a full volume of poetry titled proclivity, which takes up a familial history of Black migration, trans embodiment, and Black liberation. Smythe organizes with students and other comrades in the broader Cops Off Campus Coalition and other abolitionist/anti-carceral groups across Turtle Island and in Europe. Winner of the 2022 Rome Prize, Smythe is currently based between Rome and Tongva Land (Los Angeles).

About Nicholas R. Jones

Prof. Nicholas R. Jones (UC Davis) is the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center’s (KJCC) Scholar-in-Residence at New York University. He is the author of the prize-winning Staging Habla de Negros: Radical Performances of the African Diaspora in Early Modern Spain (Penn State University Press, May 2019) and co-editor of Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology (Palgrave, December 2018) and Pornographic Sensibilities: Imagining Sex and the Visceral in Premodern and Early Modern Spanish Cultural Production (Routledge, January 2021) with Chad Leahy. Jones also co-edits the Routledge Critical Junctures in Global Early Modernities book series with Derrick Higginbotham. Jones’s research has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and he is completing his second solo-authored monograph entitled Cervantine Blackness. Jones has also held visiting appointments at Georgetown University and New York University.