Despite some setbacks, I made it to Chicago to meet up with avid Speculative Blackness reader and distinguished scholar Alex Weheliye for the Colloquium in African American Studies at Northwestern University. They have a department, how cool is that?
The trip was an opportunity to connect with some senior scholars and emerging scholars (doctoral candidates) working in the same interdisciplinary orbit as my own research: Black and American/Diaspora Studies, literature and cultural production, cultural politics of form and genre, the Humanities in a global frame. Some of them clued me in to other questions in Environmental Humanities and Science & Technology Studies (STS) that I can follow up on, thanks to their intellectual curiosity.
I shared some of my past and present dilemmas with the group and they were, as expected, informed and informative. By itself, the chapter of my book on the Carl Brandon phenomenon doesn’t touch every node in this network, but the sources and methods in there are really integral to the broader agenda that leads me from science fiction fandom to radio drama. These folks were fantastic interlocutors, and I hope to hear (and read) more from them as my #Audiofuturism project develops.
Read more about the work of Northwestern’s African American Studies faculty here.
Meanwhile, I have reached a tentative truce with the wifi networks and credentials involved in UPenn’s libraries for the purpose of the Penn Humanities Forum. A perk of having an ID card there is that my credentials allow me to look for different databases to which my home institution doesn’t subscribe. While I was poking around in this fashion, I took a little time to find myself and located something I’d written that has been in print for some time. I finally uploaded this to my academia.edu page, and here it is.
This is a review of Modernity, Freedom, and the African Diaspora by Elisa Joy White. I was writing this review for the Journal of the African Literature Association when I first signed on to Twitter, and it’s been online and in print for a while. I said it then and I’ll say it again, now: this is a really useful book. It’s interdisciplinary; it engages with ethnography, political philosophy, migration and Diaspora Studies, and history; and it’s so attentive to how race thinking inflects discourses of national belonging and the broader, transnational European and globalization agendas. The comparisons between the US, France, and Ireland are essential, in this regard. I had a similar assessment of Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisions, by David Rayside: some books are just spot-on as resources for understanding the persistent power and the limitations of the nation-state as we come up against those limits.
There will be video from the Colloquium at Northwestern, so stay tuned! Next stop: the Society for Utopian Studies conference in sunny Florida ☉.