Intersectional Assemblages: Scales of Dissent in May 1968 and #blacklivesmatter

Authors: Abraham Weil*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: #blacklivesmatter; May 1968; Political philosophy
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

This paper examines scale trough two spaces: student protests during the political unrest of France in May 1968 and current political practices occurring in the #blacklivesmatter movement. Drawn from the conceptual vocabulary of cultural theorist Félix Guattari as well as recent work in black studies, this paper seeks to intervene in debates about the complexity of embodied subjectivity and the politics of life. What geographical interventions might be possible through extending radical politics beyond the familiar contours of identity politics both in contemporary space and through a major fracture in the cannon of continental philosophy?

#blacktranslivesmatter—much like the May ‘68 and the related ethnic nationalist, black liberation, and feminist and gay movements of the 60s and 70s—engages with the biopolitics of identity, in ways that both enact and inspire new potentials for revolutionary transformation. It also raises new questions about scale and political space. This movement represents a new kind of decentralized social entity/body—even while it borrows from previous social movement strategies, including identity politics, liberation movements, even Occupy—shifting the focus from the molar, or large scale collectives (which remain important), toward molecular potentials where attempts to co-opt or violate begin to slide past one another without the ability to bind to social reality. Documenting how the new practices work, and how (or if) they are transversally connected to previous practices calls into sharp relief our schemas for understanding life itself and the politics of hierarchizing life according to these animate hierarchies of political life.

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