Black Studies & The Black Radical Tradition

This reading group will review contemporary theories of “anti-Black racism”; the relationship between Black studies and movements for racial, gender, class, and sexual justice; and the implications of Black studies given the neoliberalization of the university space. Drawing from several schools of Black/Africana/African American thought, this reading group endeavors to understand how “Black studies”—broadly defined and necessarily interdisciplinary, Trans-Atlantic and at times “anti-disciplinary”— critiques the state, the university, capital(ism), markets, and American post-racial fictions writ-large.

Our theoretical lenses include (but are certainly not limited to) critical race theory, Afro-pessimism, Black feminist thought, Black queer studies, and Black trans* studies. The reading group will bring together artists, activists and scholars, and will also serve as a space for strategizing complex political responses to the contemporary rise of neo-fascism and white nationalism.

SCHEDULE & READINGS ( tentative )
*all meetings are from 12:00 PM ~ 1:15 PM unless otherwise noted

  • Thursday, September 20, 2018
    the making of a tradition.
    Robin D.G. Kelley, Foreword to Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), xi-xvii.

    George Lipsitz, “What is This Black in The Black Radical Tradition” in Futures of Black Radicalism (London: Verso, 2017), 108-119.

    Combahee River Collective Statement
  • Thursday, October 4, 2018
    afro pessimism.
    Frank B. Wilderson, “Blacks and the Master/Slave Relation” in Introduction to Afro-Pessimism , open access, 80-91.
  • Monday, October 15, 2018
    black labor.
    Saidiya Hartman, “The Belly of the World: A Note on Black Women’s Labors,” Souls 18, no.1 (2016): 166–73.

    Sarah Haley, "“Like I Was a Man”: Chain Gangs, Gender, and the Domestic Carceral Sphere in Jim Crow Georgia." Signs 39, no. 1 (2013): 53-77.

    Angela Davis, “Reflections on the Black Woman's Role in the Community of Slaves,” The Black Scholar 12 no. 6 (1981), 2-15.
  • Thursday, November 8, 2018
    chronicling revolt.
    Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), 140-166.

    Stephanie Camp, “The Pleasures of Resistance: Enslaved Women and Body Politics in the Plantation South, 1830-1861,” Journal of Southern History 68 , No. 3 (Aug., 2002), 533-572.

    Natasha Lightfoot, “‘Their Coats Were Tied Up Like Men’: Women Rebels in Antigua’s 1858 Uprising,” Slavery & Abolition 31, no. 4 (December 2010): 527-545.
  • Thursday, December 6, 2018
    staging sex and gender (violence).
    Hortense J. Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” Diacritics 17 , no. 2 Culture and Countermemory: The "American" Connection. (Summer 1987).

    C. Riley Snorton, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 55-98.