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Qui Parle, Volume 28, Number 2, December 2019

Vol. 28 | No. 2 | December 2019

Special Issue: Trajectories in Race and Diaspora: Entangled Histories and Affinities of Transgression


Donna Honarpisheh

The essays in this special issue unfold at the dynamic intersections of race and diaspora in a global context. A concerted attention to entanglement brings these texts together, where entanglement refers to woven histories, synchronicities of experience, untimely failures, and fierce departures, fugitive and rebellious, as well as the slow and reverberating motions of diasporic time. These cross-temporal flows erupt in divergent trajectories that constitute the raced subject in unexpected ways. Each essay is preoccupied with how race—as an ontological category born of violence—produces edges, wounds, or incisions that nurture opportunities for further ontological transgressions with possible liberatory potentials.

Read now at Duke University Press

Diaspora and Entanglement
Michelle M. Wright

This essay interrogates rising interest in the concept of “entanglement” by Black studies scholars. Beginning with its definition in theoretical physics, the essay moves to Karen Barad’s “agential realism” to explore how diasporic ways of knowing are used to define and connect Black identities across space and time. The majority of the essay focuses on close readings of two contemporary novels on diasporic pasts, presents, and futures, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016) and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu (2018), to contrast “vertical” and “horizontal” epistemologies, respectively. Although Gyasi’s novel impressively and warmly constructs a Middle Passage epistemology between the United States and West Africa, this essay argues that its reliance on vertical relations between the past, present, and future is inimical to producing an equality of relations between Black subjects. However, Makumbi’s novel, while defying traditional diasporic narrative structures by focusing on diaspora within East Africa, specifically Gandaland and Uganda, and by rejecting fixed hierarchies of relations for horizontal ones, in which all Black subjects are equally knowing and unknowing, offers a model for more equitable diasporic epistemologies in Black discourses.

Read now at Duke University Press

On “Saidiya”: Indian Ocean World Slavery and Blackness beyond Horizon
Parisa Vaziri

This article attempts to address the contemporary turn to astrophysics lexicons in Black feminism by bringing together scholarship on Indian Ocean slavery and Black studies. Through an experimental reading of encounter with Indian Ocean and African slavery in Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother, the article suggests that exhaustions of representation manifested in the turn to black theories of the subatomic reveal an absolute nonrecuperability of time-as-history. The argument unfolds through an impossible historicization of racial blackness that engages the figure of the black eunuch slave in medieval Persian history. The difficulty of the historicity of race produces and involves crises of origins that manifest in traumatic encounters with trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slavery that explode the scalar coherence made possible by established narratives of racial modernity.

Read now at Duke University Press

Connective Tissue: Memory’s Weave and the Entanglements of Diasporic Ethnicity
Vilashini Cooppan

This essay explores the interlinked discourses of memory that put slavery, indenture, colonization, and apartheid into comparison. The term connective tissue, with its connotations of organic and inorganic interweavings (fabrics, bodies and their microstructures, societies and their networks), elaborates memory that is composed through entanglement and expressed through distinctly networked technologies. These technologies include textuality’s semiotic weave (Barthes, Derrida), the nonlinearity of Glissant’s Relation, and the affective intensities, sensory experience, and inherited memory of diasporic identity, here given shape through critical memoir. Connective tissue models an approach to a comparative memory studies animated by entanglement rather than competitive hierarchization of the events of racialized historical violence.

Read now at Duke University Press

Conspiracy Rises Again: Racial Sympathy and Radical Solidarity across Empires
Poulomi Saha

This essay takes up conspiracy as a discursive, political, and philosophical concept. By tracing the ideological and textual kinship between anticolonialism in India and Ireland and radicalism in the United States, it illuminates transcolonial circuits of a curiously shared revolutionary project. Rather than simply offer a historical account of those interconnections, it theorizes a practice of reading revolutionary violence as perpetual, repetitive haunting, a politics of the undead. It argues for a historiographical live burial by which violences of the past reappear to disrupt the imperial promise of futurity and continuity. From the 1916 “Hindu-German Conspiracy Trial” in San Francisco, during which members of the Ghadr Party—consisting of diasporic Indian students at the University of California, Berkeley, and Punjabi farmers in the Central Valley—were accused of conspiring with German diplomats to arm anticolonial revolt in British India, this essay tracks forms of radical sympathy that emerge, flourish, and stutter in an era of ethnonationalist constriction.

Read now at Duke University Press

Being Ocean as Praxis: Depth Humanisms and Dark Sciences
Alexis Pauline Gumbs

This essay offers a meditation on how the idea of being human as praxis, as developed by Sylvia Wynter and Katherine McKittrick, applies to a melting planet. What is the intersubjectivity demanded by (and causing) the deadly heating of the ocean, and how is it informed by theories of blackness impacted by transatlantic oceanic encounter?

Read now at Duke University Press

The Catastrophe: Black Feminist Poethics, (Anti)form, and Mathematical Nihilism
Calvin Warren

This essay argues that black feminist poethics uncovers a deep philosophical problem between pure form and pure matter. Mathematics is the site of such contention, and the decision to retain form or destroy form presents ontological and epistemological complexities for a philosophy of mathematics in Black studies. Ultimately, this essay offers mathematical nihilism as the only hope for blacks in an antiblack world.

Read now at Duke University Press

    Review Essays

Blackness and Animality beyond Recognition
Jishnu Guha-Majumdar

A review of Boisseron, Bénédicte, Afro-Dog: Blackness and the Animal Question (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018); Johnson, Lindgren, Race Matters, Animal Matters: Fugitive Humanism in African America, 1840–1930 (New York: Routledge, 2018); and Ellis, Cristin, Antebellum Posthuman: Race and Materiality in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018).

Read now at Duke University Press

The Third Revolution: Black Women’s Twentieth-Century Experiments in Ending the World
Jonathan Jacob Moore

A review of Hartman, Saidiya, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (New York: Norton, 2019).

Read now at Duke University Press

Race and Science in Global Histories
Juana Catalina Becerra Sandoval & Shireen Hamza

A review of Gómez, Pablo F., The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Read now at Duke University Press

Cover: Felipe Baeza, En mar abierto, lejos de la tierra, en este lejano exterior salado naufragó mi cuerpo pero nunca fallecio (detail), 2018. More info. 

Volume 28.2 is available at Duke University Press and Project Muse. Qui Parle is edited by an independent group of graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley and published by Duke University Press.