This seminar is intended as a laboratory for discussing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to borders and boundaries across liquid and aquatic contexts. Namely, we will explore how they impact how “we” come to capaciously understand Blackness, Black studies, and Black people through waterways and historic, linguistic, and other modes of perceived continuity.
Seminar discussions will attend to the borders across what Tiffany King describes as the “edgeless” relationship between genocide and enslavement; the limits of humanity/humanism in relation to Black feminism; the aesthetic and syncretic bounds between possibility and imagination; the borders of Black belonging; and possible borders that can be rejected or reproduced within certain disciplinary and methodological frameworks. We will engage Black epistemologies, geographies, politics, and creative practices to consider some intersectional issues impacting what it means to undergo the study of Black life and thought in our contemporary moment.
Blackness + BorderscapesMon, Apr 4, 20221:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Tue, Apr 5, 20221:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Wed, Apr 6, 20221:00 pm to 3:00 pm
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).
Tendayi Achiume, “The Postcolonial Case for Rethinking Borders” Dissent 66.3: pp. 27-32. Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return
Kevin Dawson, “Waterscapes of the African Diaspora” and “Atlantic African Aquatic Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Comparison,” Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora
Anaïs Duplan, Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture
Tiffany Lethabo King, “Introduction,” The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black & Native Studies. Tsedaye Makonnen, “When Drowning Is the Best Option: Astral Sea I”
SA Smythe, “The Black Mediterranean and the Politics of the Imagination,” MERIP
Sylvia Wynter, “Columbus, the Ocean Blue, and Fables That Stir the Mind: To Reinvent the Study of Letters” in Poetics of the Americas: Race, Founding, and Textuality, 141–64.