Faculty coordinator of liquid blackness, Alessandra Raengo will present a paper entitled, “Black Liquidity and the Weaving of Black Sociality,” at the SLSA 2016 Annual Meeting. Dr. Raengo will present on the “Network Ephemerality” panel on Friday, November 4, from 1:30 PM-3:30 PM (Panel G Ansley 7) in the Westin Peachtree hotel in downtown Atlanta. Read below the paper abstract in full:
While the resilience of the “racial panopticon” and anti-black violence has moved several “Afropessimist” scholars to understand blackness under the rubric of “social death,” the ascendance of the #BlackLivesMatter movement vindicates instead the opposing “Afro-optimist” position, which affirms the generative capacity of black social life. “Black Liquidity and the Weaving of Black Sociality” examines this tension in Arthur Jafa’s essay film Dreams are Colder than Death (2013), a meditation on the legacy of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech,” conducted through interviews with African-American intellectuals and artists. Woven together with lyrical, slow-motion images of ordinary black people, water and cosmological images of deep space, these voices reflect on the ontology of blackness and its relationship to life, death, and the concept of the human. Eventually, through the words of Fred Moten, the film questions the possibility to love black people once blackness is solely understood within the “afterlife of slavery.” This paper reads the film’s rhizomatic structure, which effectively performs the very networks of solidarity, grief, and grievance sought by #BLM, as the evidence of such love. Through its aesthetic liquidity, i.e. the film’s facility to move across scale –from the minute to the cosmological, from the familial to the collective—and the way it disjoins some of the very conditions for black surveillance—voices strategically recorded independently from the image; faces hardly visible because shot against intense light sources—the film claims for blackness the expansiveness that institutes radical networks of black love.