Black Quantum Poetics: A Re-Orientation of Black Life

Authors: Cornel Grey*, University of Toronto
Topics: Cartography
Keywords: Black Geographies, Black Life, Black Feminist Theory, Black Epistemology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Black geographies and the politics of Black place-making demand a theoretical framework capacious and layered enough to grapple with the multifaceted dimensions of Black life. Black feminist theorists, scholars of the Black radical tradition, Afropessimists and Afrofuturists alike have all gestured to the ways that Black people have been positioned outside the realm of the human, civilization, and conceptions of nationhood. This in mind, I propose a way of reading blackness and Black life that takes as its landscape not just the Earth but the larger galactic field in which it is located. Using Evelynn Hammonds and M. Nourbese Philip’s articulation of the ‘black w/hole’ as my foundation, I work through the ways that Black life is positioned within a constellation of forces marked by the onset of the “Big Bang”, which, in this framework, refers to the collective event of New World ‘discovery’, dispossession of Indigenous lands and the enslavement of Black people. The ‘black w/hole’ generated by this cosmic event is both the site of Black production and radical thought but is that which Man has come to fear, sought to surveil and learned to exploit for his own purposes. I offer black quantum poetics as a spatial reading practice and lens through which we may develop a different way of reading history and practices against Black humanity. Drawing on the work of major thinkers in Black studies, black quantum poetics presents both a map and vocabulary that seeks to put in conversation works pertaining to Black livelihood.

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