Interview: Zakiyyah Iman Jackson on Becoming Human — Epistemic Unruliness 30

In this episode, Emily is delighted to talk with Dr. Zakiyyah Iman Jackson about her new book Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World. Turning to African diasporic literature, Jackson theorizes the relationship between blackness and animality, bringing black critical theory and posthumanism to bear on one another. Our conversation traces Jackson’s intellectual journey to the book project and to the question of animality more broadly, examines the methodological approaches of the book and the possibilities and poetics of language, and unpacks the project’s political stakes. On the way, we discuss plasticity, Jackson’s ontology, the importance of cultural production for theorizing the human, the relationship between science/positivism and colonialism, and more.

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, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

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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.

 

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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

Interview: Frank B. Wilderson III on Afropessimism – Epistemic Unruliness 28

In this very special episode, Sid and James sit down with Dr. Frank B. Wilderson, III for a lively and wide-ranging conversation about his new highly-anticipated book Afropessimism. Culminating much of Wilderson’s critical theoretical ouevre of the last twenty years, the trio discuss this coming-of-age narrative that chronicles Wilderson’s youthful journey via radical political movements in the US and South Africa and intimate relationships through which Wilderson came to realize his iconoclastic premises of Afropessimism: “Blackness is coterminous with Slaveness…[and] social death” (102). How does Afropressimism view the relation between the libidinal and political economies in generating and sustaining anti-Blackness? Are liberationist-abolitionist projects the ruse of the Human? Should one read Afropessimism as a slave narrative, in anticipation of aporia and oxymoron? And in an Always Already exclusive scoop for our listeners, Wilderson details the wild scene from one memorable night during his stint as a bouncer at Prince’s Minneapolis nightclub.

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, “Desiring Machines,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

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Image: Photo of Frank B. Wilderson III, facing the camera in a black jacket, with a rock formation in the background

via frankbwildersoniii.com/

 

 

Ep. 57 – Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom”

In this episode, James, Shadee, and John settle into unsettling the ongoing colonial project with Sylvia Wynter’s “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation–An Argument.” The trio work through Wynter’s textured genealogy that traces the transmutations of the European conception of the human from its early days as a Christian subject within the Latin Church to the emergence of Man1 as a political subject during the Renaissance, followed by the Enlightenment’s Man2 — an evolutionary biological-economical creature that still dominates Western ideologies today. The discussion relates Wynter’s project to post-humanism and Afro-pessimism, and questions whether the problem of antiblack racism is a problem of the human category generally, or if Wynter’s move to rehabilitate the human by thinking it through genres is a more generative tack to take. It also takes on the ways Wynter’s anti-Man humanism engages anticolonial movements in the 1960s.

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. Thanks to listener Jordan F for the Wynter suggestion. 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. We are part of the Critical Mediations network. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, and always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Portrait of Jamaican novelist, dramatist, essayist and academic Sylvia Wynter, circa 1970s.”
Found at: http://kalamu.com/neogriot/2016/12/23/pov-are-you-an-intellectual/

 

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.

 

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