Formed in fall 2015 by co-conveners Tina Campt and Saidiya Hartman, The Practicing Refusal Collective was created to initiate a new exploratory dialogue on antiblackness in the twenty-first century. Our point of departure is a set of overlapping interests and investments in theorizing the contemporary circumstances of imperiled blackness and vulnerable black bodies. The Collective aims to think through and toward refusal as a generative and capacious rubric for understanding everyday practices of struggle often obscured by an emphasis on collective or individual acts of resistance. To inaugurate the fourth year of this project, the Collective will convene a series of expanded conversations under the title “The Sojourner Project: Dialogues on Black Precarity, Fungibility, and Futurity,” on October 30-31, 2018. The venue for the initial international convening will be the newly founded Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination at Reid Hall in Paris. Our aim is to continue to host successive convenings in other venues, with an explicit intention of moving this conversation beyond the US and Europe to engage communities in the Global South, in particular, Africa and the Caribbean. We are currently in conversation with the The Research Centre of Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD) at the University of Johannesburg as a potential partner to host this event in Spring 2019.
The October convening will include three components: an evening of public events, and two working group sessions. One session will be for members of the PR Collective and the other will host a conversation that brings together the Collective and a group of Paris and European based artists, activists, thinkers and cultural workers to explore the key critical framework we have engaged over the past three years: thinking through refusal as a critical practice of engaging black precarity, fungibility, futurity. Given the interest and resonance many of us have encountered in relation to the work of our group, we have formulated a series of provisional discussion questions:
- What is anti-blackness globally? What are its national or regional idioms or inflections?
- How do we understand these terms in relation to decolonization and postcoloniality?
- How do these critical terms travel or translate?
- What might it mean to pose these questions in majority black communities?
The goal of each convening will be to explore these questions from the vantage point of our interlocutors in each site generate a public dialogue of these questions staged in relation to the work of artists, writers or poets, whose practice offers us insight into these questions.
The PR Collective is comprised of sixteen members: Tina Campt (Barnard College/Columbia University) and Saidiya Hartman (Columbia University),Rizvana Bradley (Yale University), Hazel Carby (Yale University), Denise Ferreira da Silva (University of British Columbia), Kaiama Glover (Barnard College/Columbia University), Che Gossett (BCRW/Rutgers University), Philip Brian Harper (New York University), Maja Horn (Barnard College/Columbia University), Arthur Jafa (Independent Filmmaker), Monica Miller (Barnard College/Columbia University), Tavia N’yongo (Yale University), Christina Sharpe (York University-Toronto), Darieck Scott (UC Berkeley), Deborah A. Thomas (University of Pennsylvania), Alexander Weheliye (Northwestern University), and Mabel Wilson (Columbia University). Since its initial meeting in 2015, the group has met bi-annually as a working group sponsored by the Barnard Center for Research on Women. In additional day-long working group discussions, the group has hosted a series of public events engaging the work of members of the collective, including a lecture and graduate seminar by Denise Ferriera da Silva, a screening and panel discussion on the films of Arthur Jafa at the International Center for Photography in New York, and book salons on Christina Sharpe’s, In the Wake, and Tina Campt’s, Listening To Images.
Kodwo Eshun, Goldsmiths College
Maboula Soumoharu, University of Tours
Christina Sharpe, York University-Toronto
Denise Ferriera da Silva, University of British Columbia
Francoise Verges, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris