Interview: Michael Sawyer on the Political Philosophy of Malcolm X – Epistemic Unruliness 29

In this episode, Sid and John have the pleasure of talking with Dr. Michael Sawyer about his new book, Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X. Offering a systematic account of Malcolm X’s philosophy, Sawyer surfaces the distinctive radical humanism suffusing Malcolm X’s thought. Against the backdrop of ongoing anti-Black state and vigilante violence, we ask: What are the stakes of reading Malcolm X as a political philosopher, and what does it mean to be “Black minded”? How does Malcolm X theorize and practice the body as a site of Black subjectivity and self-sovereignty in the face of white supremacy, especially in white supremacy’s expression through the violent policing of Black bodies? In ways is Malcolm X a “bridge” between W.E.B Du Bois and Franz Fanon, and what do we learn from reading Malcolm X through Audre Lorde? What are the resonances and differences between Malcolm X’s conception of the New Human and the anti-humanism of Afro-pessimism? How should we grasp his often misunderstood notions of Black nationalism, violence, and revolution? Our conversation works though these pressing questions, clarifying the complexity, continued relevance, and radical horizon of Malcolm X’s political and philosophical critique of the white supremacist social order. We close with Sawyer’s reflections about contemporary struggles against white supremacy and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Third Precinct on Fire“; always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Michael Sawyer

 

Malcolm X behind the counter at a restaurant, photographing Cassius Clay.

One of the images analyzed by Sawyer in the book.
Photo originally by Bob Gomel/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images; sourced from http://fightland.vice.com/blog/cassius-x-when-muhammad-met-malcolm

Caribbean Carnival Complex – Epistemic Unruliness 25

In this special installment of Epistemic Unruliness, James brings you a student-assembled episode produced by some the intrepid undergraduates who took his spring 2019 Swarthmore College course, “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.” This course and the podcasts presented here focused on the Caribbean Carnival Complex — a heuristic that has emerged within Caribbean cultural studies that takes the Carnival performance season common across the region as a metonymic expression of a fractalized Caribbean identity, history, culture, and cosmology.

Drawing on complexity studies, chaos theory, the Blackened Afro-Caribbean phenomenology and kinaesthetics of Frantz Fanon, as well as participant-observation at Philadelphia’s El Carnaval de Puebla, this episode plunges listeners into the “Caribbean of the senses” (Benítez-Rojo 1992) through an exploration of the embodied, choreographic archives carnavaleros use to generate and transmit forms of knowing (Roach 1996). This performance modality, called “playing Mas” in the Anglo-Caribbean (Browne 2018), centers the affective immediacy but rhetorical indirection of communicative forms like masking, veiling, costuming and other dramaturgical aspects of Caribbean mytho-poesis. The Caribbean Carnival Complex entails a fugitive praxis that emerges from the fragments of liberatory-emancipatory potential made sensible and perceptible by mass street rituals.

A special thank you to the students who worked on the following segments:

  • “Culture Chat” – Liv Elmore, Alejandra King, Jayna Jones, Megan Ruoff
  • “Caribbean Curries” – Arpita Joyce and Catherine Williams
  • “Sounds of El Carnaval de Puebla en Filadelfia” – Edna Olvera and Miryam Ramírez (click here for a .pdf of their listening notes)

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the opening and interstitial music, “Being in the World,” from their album FutureCommons. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Syllabus for “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.”

The Traditional Mas Archive, an online resource for festival drama in the Caribbean region.

Blue Devils of Paramin. Photo courtesy of Matthew Fung, Traditional Mas Archive

Ep. 43 – Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

In our first text-discussion episode in a while (sorry podcast fam!), John is joined by two special guest hosts, his Beloit College colleagues M. Shadee Malaklou (Critical Identity Studies) and Michelle Bumatay (French). We discuss Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon, focusing on the Introduction, “The Man of Color and the White Woman” (chap. 3) and “The Lived Experience of the Black Man” (chap. 5).  How does anti-blackness make black ontology impossible? How does the white gaze phenomenologically fix and objectify and reify? How does Fanon link temporality, racism, colonialism, and psychic structures? How does Fanon critique the white Continental philosophical tradition? All this and much more, including finding out which one of us has a ‘Humanism is a Racism’ bumper sticker.

Later on, we’re joined by Robin Zebrowski (Cognitive Science at Beloit) to help give some advice on deciding to apply for grad school and analyze a dream about a spectral boss, tree canopies with glass walls, and telepathy.

Remember to support us on Patreon to help offset/reimburse the cost of our fancy new microphone, which we have named Lacan. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion, Rocco & Lizzie, and B for the music. Get the mp3 here.

 

Links!

 

frantz_fanon

 

black-skin-white-masks

Ep. 25 – Walter Mignolo on Decolonial Epistemology

Join Rachel, B, and John as they discuss the decolonial theory of Walter D. Mignolo, reading “The Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Colonial Difference” and “Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and De-Colonial Freedom.” What is epistemology and why is it important? What is the relation between materiality, the body, and epistemology? What is colonial epistemology and cosmology, and how does the colonial difference rupture it? How is de-colonial epistemic disobedience related to civil disobedience. With the help of Frantz Fanon, Malcom X, and Bree Newsome in addition to Mignolo’s incisive work, we take on these question and more. Plus, we advise a listener on jealousy in a budding relation in My Tumblr Friend from Canada, and analyze a dream in which a listener is transported back to high school chemistry in One or Several Wolves.

Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by Rocco & Lizzie and by B.

Links!

  • Mignolo’s website
  • Interview with Mignolo (2012) on “The Prospect of Harmony and the De-Colonial View of the World”
  • Enrique Dussel’s homepage
  • Mignolo on YouTube: “Citizenship, Knowledge, and the Limits of Humanity” lecture and leading a seminar on “The Concept of De-Coloniality”

mignolo