The Movement of Black Thought – Study Notes

A piece collectively written by the Black Study Group (London). It forms the basis of a roundtable that we have organised for the Black Studies Association conference in Birmingham at the end of October.

We would welcome thoughts and comments.

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darkmatter Journal looking for book reviewers

darkmatter Journal is looking for book reviewers.


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Speculative Blackness: Re-imagining the Human in Afrofuturism

Abstract of the paper I presented at the Black Portraiture(s) II Conference in Florence, Italy 28-31 May 2015:

The histories of slavery and colonialism are informed by the violent hierarchies of racial distinction in which human subjectivity is possessed only by whiteness. In Eurocentric visions of the future whiteness claims ‘post-humanism’ in ‘post-racial’ apocalyptic worlds. Afrofuturism as a philosophical critique and a cultural practice challenges this temporal teleology of humanness. By recoding the traumatic histories of enslavement and biopolitical colonial terror through imaginative projections of technological pasts and futures, Afrofuturism questions the racial assumptions of the ‘human’ and ‘life’ in global history and memory.

In contrast to the idealization of the body and the human in traditions of photography and visual art, Afrofuturism presents images of the black body as cybernetic, robotic and alien. This presentation considers examples of Afrofuturist visual art, popular culture and sci-fi imagery to interrogate the fate of the human, humanism and futurity in black critical thought and postcolonial critique of biopolitics and ‘bare life’.

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The sublime time of race: rethinking black history and contemporary film

Another talk I did on temporality and black film at Open School East as part of the CCSR In Theory seminar series.
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The sublime time of race

A first of some talks on race and temporality that I have been working on. This ones at Coventry University:



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Black Capital

I recently spoke at this event:

Out of Sight: Constructing, Experiencing, Changing Peripheries – 20 March 2014

The peripheral is not only what is imagined as geographically distant, but encompasses those seen as the distant amongst us – the stranger, the outcast, the pariah.

What does it mean, in the age of digital technologies, to be “peripheral” – on the fringes and out of sight? How are communities imagined as peripheral empowered or disempowered through networks and practices? How is the peripheral constructed and mediated by new media, as place, as geography, as relationship and as a category of being?

This event will discuss the idea of the peripheral, examining communities and subjectivities imagined as distant, aiming to explore the nature of peripherality, to examine experiences of being strange or far away, and to debate whether new media changes or impacts how categories of distance/difference are constructed.

I gave a talk around the notion of ‘Black Capital’ – a short abstract below.

Black Capital 

The mutations of contemporary communication capitalism are reconfiguring notions of centre/periphery, inside/outside, subject/object, self/other, past/future, material/immaterial, west/non-west, whiteness/blackness. This talk focuses on black cultures incorporation into the workings of a ‘post-racial’ media that fetishes, abstracts and exploits difference, marginality and otherness. I consider how the ‘grammar of (racial) suffering’ is coded and ‘traded’ in the spectacle and circuits of paranoid info-capitalism and global empire.  I speculate on the possibilities of the aesthetics of the ‘black radical tradition’ as critique, and in reimagining contemporary futurity and the fugitive subjectivity of resistance.

More details of the talk to follow….


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Recordings of the lecture/workshops with Fred Moten, Stefano Harney and Laura Harris at Goldsmiths last month: …

Details of the event below.

Black Studies: Grammars of the Fugitive
A public lecture with Stefano Harney and Fred Moten
Friday 6th December 2013 @ 6.30pm
Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre / Whitehead Building / Goldsmiths College, University of London

Black Studies Group (London) and Centre for Cultural Studies (Goldsmiths College) are delighted to host a public lecture to be delivered by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney. The publication of their Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Minor Compositions, 2013) marked a culmination point in an ongoing project in which they have sought to reinvigorate contemporary social thought and aesthetic critique by way of the black radical tradition. Deploying concepts such as “study”, “undercommons”, “debt”, “speculative practice”, “blackness” and “fugitivity”, Harney and Moten have loosened what for many now seems like the strained and distant relations between intellectual thought, academic labour and collective (under)common action. We hope you can join the Black Studies Group in coming together to make delusional plans with both Moten and Harney.

Fred Moten received his Ph.D. in English from UC Berkeley. He is a student of Afro-diasporic social and cultural life with teaching, research and creative interests in poetry, performance studies and
critical theory. His books include In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, Hughson’s Tavern, B. Jenkins, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (with his frequent collaborator Stefano Harney) and The Feel Trio.

Stefano Harney is Professor of Strategic Management Education, Singapore Management University and co-founder of the School for Study, an ensemble teaching project. He employs autonomist and postcolonial theory in looking into issues associated with race, work, and social organization. Recent books include The Ends of Management (co-authored with Tim Edkins) and The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (co-authored with Fred Moten). Stefano lives and works in Singapore.

Goldsmiths Events Page:
Contact the organisers:
All welcome, no registration required.

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Hal Foster’s critical turn

Ash Sharma:

Hal Foster via The Charnel-House on the continual importance of critique…more to follow.

Originally posted on The Charnel-House:

There’s a good review by Jeffrey Petts over at the low-key online publication Marx and Philosophy of Hal Foster’s excellent The Art-Architecture Complex (2011). Currently I’m writing a double-review of Foster’s book along with another very good book, Gevork Hartoonian’s recent Architecture and Spectacle: A Critique (2013) for the LA Review of Books. Petts covers all the major points of Foster’s study with clarity and concision; I especially appreciate the way he elucidates the connection with Kenneth Frampton’s advocacy of “critical regionalism.” Indeed, the opposition between image and building, the visual and the tactile, the scenographic and the tectonic — frames the entire discussion. (Same goes for Hartoonian, incidentally).

But one thing I’m really grateful to Petts’ review for was its reference to criticisms Foster has recently leveled against the post-Marxist philosopher and aesthetic theorist Jacques Rancière. He cites an November 2013 review Foster wrote of Rancière’s Aisthesis, just translated…

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Southern Discomfort

I have started a new writing project with my long-time friend Ko Banerjea. Southern Discomfort is an experiment in developing a poetic form of critique of our contemporary situation. Maybe a sort of literary zine.

This was my initial entry to the About page of the Zine, it gives a sense of where we are at:

No Future

‘What does not happen defines the contemporary’ (Agamben)

The invocation of the punk refrain ‘No Future’ is not some simple nostalgia for a time gone by, or hipster retromania desperately trying to give stylistic legitimacy to its ever-so-comfortable incorporation into contemporary ‘friction-free’ capitalism.  Rather, it is the dialectical unraveling of the historical present in which the future has already been sold to the highest bidder. The hedge fund managers and futures traders have pre-emptied the time to come.  A future in which co-ordinates of life and death are inscribed in the corporate data banks, to be exchanged through the social networks of the new masters of the universe. Resistance is futile.

The future had already gone, and we just didn’t know it. Maybe the ruins of the past are just fragments of the future that could not be integrated into the stories that we are told. In our times of digital distraction and boredom, of violence and spectacle, of  ethnic branding and racial tourism, do we just provide a distorted rear mirror to our slow death? What if the fragments can be combined and remade to offer another future in the present?

Our refusal is a negation of the sold-out future. Through the psycho-geographical speculative reimagining of the spaces of the city in ruins, we remember what we can be. We are the last fools standing, laughing out aloud, scavenging for bits of subterranean culture; holding on against the maelstrom of banality, we live now by re-inventing the present.

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‘The Trouble with Research’

'The Trouble with Research'

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