AfricaNow! July 26, 2017
Topic: The Undercommons and 21st Century Resistance
Topic and Guest: Black radicalism [consequently] cannot be understood within the particular context of its genesis. It is not a variant of Western radicalism whose proponents happen to be Black. Rather, it is a specifically African response to an oppression emergent from the immediate determinants of European development in the modern era and framed by orders of human exploitation woven into the interstices of European social life from the inception of Western civilization. . .Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism (79) How do we map the Black Radical tradition? How can we understand its praxis? If we are to truly to refashion the world…to make it better…to remake its institutions…to address its systemic inequities. Find justice. Seek peace. What language can we use to transmit it once we are able “see” it? What are the concepts that it will produce that will allow us to see the world differently? How can we codify the thoughts and practices in an effort to create a new vision of the world while simultaneously resisting the present? What questions do we need to ask that begins to provide insight, and foresight to muddle through the Man vs. Human conflict explored in the work of Sylvia Wynter. Aimé Césaire argues that we cannot look to Western notions of “man”, as this man has been forged out of an arrested understanding of humanity. A narrow conception which consistently depends on the systematic degradation of non-European men and women. He writes in Discourse on Colonialism: “At the very time when it most often mouths the word, the West has never been further from being able to live a true humanism—a humanism made to the measure of the world” (73). More than this…Where do we look? Fred Moten and Stefano Harney suggest that we pay attention closer attention to the undercommons. It is the space in between space that we should look to study blackness. According to Jack Halberstam in Chapter 0 of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study: “If you want to know what the undercommons wants, what Moten and Harney want, what black people, indigenous peoples, queers and poor people want, what we (the “we” who cohabit in the space of the undercommons) want, it is this – we cannot be satisfied with the recognition and acknowledgement generated by the very system that denies a) that anything was ever broken and b) that we deserved to be the broken part; so we refuse to ask for recognition and instead we want to take apart, dismantle, tear down the structure that, right now, limits our ability to find each other, to see beyond it and to access the places that we know lie outside its walls” (6). Today’s AfricaNow! features a recent conversation between AfricaNow!’s Executive Producer and Co-Host James Pope had with Professor Fred Moten where they are exploring the ideas set forth by radical thinkers ranging from anti-colonialist such as Sylvia Wynter and Aimé Césaire to scholar-activists such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Amiri Baraka.
Dr. Fred Moten is currently Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, where he teaches courses and conducts research in black studies, performance studies, poetics and literary theory. He is author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003); Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works, 2009); B. Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010). Moten is also co-author, with Stefano Harney, of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study.
Click here to listen to AfricaNow! of July 26, 2017 The Undercommons and 21st Century Resistance.
Originally broadcast on WPFW 89.3FM, Washington, DC. Tune into AfricaNow! live on WPFW 89.3 FM in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area or visit www.wpfwfm.org on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:00PM (Eastern).