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

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

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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Postcolonial Matters – Naples 14 June 2012

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How Do you Like Your Diversity? Unravelling Multiculturalism, Interculturalism and Cosmopolitanism

      22nd May 2012 at   6:30pm – 8:30pm

@ Rivington Place, London

Panel discussion led by Handel Kashope Wright, with respondents Mica Nava, Roshini Kempadoo and Ashwani Sharma.

Date: 22nd May 2012 from 6:30 – 8:30pm
Location: Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA.

See: <>

Admission: £5 (£3 concs) + booking fee.

Handel Wright will analyse developments and limitations in the theories and politics of multiculturalism and diversity. He will be joined by Mica Nava, Roshini Kempadoo and Ashwani Sharma who will engage with Wright’s analysis from the perspectives of their own research and practice. The discussion will include a review of the usefulness of terms such as multiculturalism, diversity, interculturalism and cosmopolitanism in the contemporary political context. Accelerating global trends in online social environments, the arts and popular culture confound the debate and everyday experiences of difference and social justice. The panel asks if our established theoretical and creative practices are adequate to the challenges posed by neo-liberalism, transnational urban cultures and emergent forms of bio-political racism. <> <>

This event is a collaboration between Iniva and the Centre for Cultural Studies Research (CCSR) School of Art and Digital Industries, University of East London.

Handel Kashope Wright is Professor and Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity and Education at University of British Columbia, Canada and has published widely on Africana cultural studies, anti-racism, multiculturalism and its alternatives. He is currently visiting Research Professor at CCSR, University of East London.

Mica Nava is Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London. Her most recent book is Visceral Cosmopolitanism: Gender, Culture and the Normalisation of Difference.

Roshini Kempadoo is a Photographer, Media Artist and Reader at the University of East London. The photographs State of Play (2011) were recently exhibited in Justina Barnicke Gallery, Toronto. Her chapter ‘Imagining Her(story): Engendering archives’ in Renewing Feminisms: Radical Narratives, Fantasies and Futures in Media Studies is out later this year.

Ashwani Sharma is Principal Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London, and is the co-editor of the online journal darkmatter ( <> ). He is currently completing a book on Race and Visual Culture in the Global Age.

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Then and Now: The changing context of debate?

Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts)                                                      Wednesday 9 November, 6:30pm £5 (£3 concessions) Rivington Place, EC2A 3BA

The current exhibition Entanglement: The Ambivalence of Identity (14th September – 19th November 2011) curated by Iniva provides an opportunity to explore a context for international and artists of the diaspora, their work and its curation.

Cultural policy on identity, advocacy by artists critics and theorists of African, Asian and Caribbean diaspora, and curatorial approaches to multiculturalism have most often shaped and determined the debates about artists from the colonial/postolonial diaspora. Their work and status have been defined by such contexts over the last 20 years in Britain.

Discussing key debates around identity politics as seen through Iniva’s Archives
Roshini Kempadoo, photographer, media artist and lecturer at the University of East London (UEL), will be in conversation with Karen Alexander, independent film curator, writer and freelance consultant; Nina Mangalanayagam, an artist currently showing work at the Entanglement: the Ambivalence of Identity exhibition at Rivington Place, and Ashwani Sharma, principal lecturer in media and cultural studies at UEL. The panel will explore how identity politics, definitions of blackness and internationalism are ongoing concerns for artists and curators albeit set within changing practices, definitions and attitudes. Against a historical backdrop of notes from Iniva’s archive, this panel will explore this legacy in a contemporary climate in which state multiculturalism is declared dead, where there are increasing pressures for public/private arrangements for art institutions, and where artists work within a hyper-globalised art environment.

Find out more:

Book your place at events online: Contact us by email or phone 020 7749 1240 with any enquiries.

The Entanglement exhibition is showing at Rivington Place until 19 November with artists Simon Fujiwara, Anthony Key, Dave Lewis, Nina Mangalanayagam and Navin Rawanchaikul.

Rivington Place opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 11am-6pm Late opening every Thursday until 9pm Saturday 12 – 6pm Closed on Sundays, Mondays and Bank Holidays
Iniva Rivington Place London, EC2A 3BA Nearest tubes: Old St/ Liverpool St / Shoreditch High St

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Race forum, Birkbeck College – 16th Feb 2011

An invitation to an evening of talks and discussion on Wednesday 16th February, 6-9pm:

‘Is this England: Who do we think we are? Culture, memory and identity in London as a ‘post-racial’ city’.

In the age of Obama, notions of ‘post-race’ are gaining currency within critical approaches to ideas of ‘race’ or ‘racism’, largely visiting the end of ‘race’ as the starting point with which to think about racial futures. Whether as part of its successful 2012 Olympic bid or as the poster child for cosmopolitanism, London is typically recast across a range of cultural spheres as the quintessential ‘post-racial’ city. Against this the intensification of carceral policing – stop and search etc – and the emergence of second and third generation suicide bombers – offer stark reminders of the continuing fault lines of race and class which underscore much of 21st century urban life.
In this landmark event, part of Birkbeck’s regular ‘race forum’, Ashwani Sharma, principal lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London, co-editor of ‘Disorienting Rhythms’ and co-founder of ‘darkmatter‘ journal ( – and Claire Alexander – reader in Sociology at the LSE, author of ‘The Asian Gang’ and a board member at the Runnymede Trust – draw on their own work to reflect upon increasingly fraught notions of culture, memory and identity in contemporary London. The evening will also include a discussion with the speakers to be chaired by Ko Banerjea, with the prospect of a Q&A and a broader cultural dialogue with the audience.The event will take place in room 151 (first floor) in the main Malet Street Building, Birkbeck College. Free event. No need to book.


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Post-racial Imaginaries – darkmatter Journal CFP

darkmatter Journal –

Special Issue – Call for Papers: Post-racial Imaginaries

Increasing reference to the notion of ‘post-race’ is suggestive of an emergent discursive framework in critical approaches to race and racism. ‘Post-race’, ‘post-racial’, ‘post-black’, and associated ideas, are being mobilized in various theoretical, cultural and political discourses to describe new racial formations. Post-race requires us to question in new ways the precepts of race thinking, positing the end of race as a point with which to think racial futures. The imprecise nature of much ‘post-’ talk means there has yet to be a rigorous assessment of the significance of post-race and its cognate terms, beyond simple endorsement or dismissal.

This special issue of darkmatter Journal is interested in delineating the contours of the ‘post-racial’ turn by asking: what is the post-racial? What are the conditions of its emergence? What assumptions and claims does it make about the logics of racism? What critical and political work is the term doing? What does the ‘post’ in post-race mean? How is racism theorized in post-race? What is the relationship between colonial history and the post-racial? When and where is the post-racial? Who claims post-raciality?

Given the multiple registers of post-race talk, these fundamental questions might be addressed in relation to:

  • The shifts from race to ethnicity, cultural difference and multiculturalism;
  • The ontology and epistemology of race;
  • Obama and the politics of anti-racism;
  • Utopia and the end of racism;
  • Modernity, history, nation and racial memory;
  • After whiteness;
  • Feminism, sexual politics and multiraciality;
  • Neoliberalism, Marxism and class politics;
  • Globalism, Orientalism, anti/post/de-colonialism;
  • Post-black aesthetics, popular culture and politics;
  • Digitalization, bio-technologies, genetic engineering and racial mutations

Submissions: between 1,500 – 8,000 words are welcome, as are alternative formats such as commentaries, reviews, audio, visual and digital contributions. Please email a 400 – 500 word abstract to

Please note: submissions to darkmatter are now subject to external peer review. If your contribution is intended for the less formal (and non-peer reviewed) ‘commons’ section, indicate this on your submission.

For further inquiries about the ‘Post-racial Imaginaries’ special issue, email:

Deadline for Abstracts: 1st Feb 2011
Deadline for Articles: 1st Aug 2011
Publication date: Nov 2011

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