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Afro-pessimism, Gender, and Performance

CHUM 371
Fall 2021
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: AFAM 370, FGSS 381, THEA 373
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

This class engages African and African diaspora critical thought and aesthetic production (dance, visual art, performance art, installation, film) to think about colonial dispossession, objectification, and reparation. We will address topics such as the repatriation of artifacts and other ephemera taken from Europe's colonies that are housed in the archives of European cultural institutions. The objects in question have been described as either artwork, artifacts, or anthropological fetish objects (depending on which field one engages with). How can we rethink our understanding of objecthood as irreducible to "inanimate" things but as also signaling a regime of imperial domination and enslavement that violently turned African personality into a status of objecthood? What does it mean to think about the object (broadly defined) in relation to loss and the (im)possibilities of repatriation and reparation? How does the Black performer's body's disappearance/remains endow the Western art institution? The course will encourage students to think about repatriation as well as certain losses that can neither be repaired/repatriated nor evidenced in conventional ways. In those instances, how do contemporary critical thinkers and/as contemporary artists help us rethink loss, mourning, as well as the promises and ends of reparation? The assigned readings offer ways to think about colonial archives not merely as neutral repositories of past events, but also as performances; as enactments of power, aesthetic value judgment, and hierarchical arrangements of knowledge production. The theoretical, art historical, psychoanalytic, philosophical, and creative reading materials engage contemporary scholars', artists', and activists' response to both the recorded and ephemeral archives of Black dispossession. Students are encouraged to engage in events and workshops outside of the classroom, such as visiting library archives, attending performances, gallery exhibits, and film screenings.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA CHUM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CSCT)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on MAR-29-2023
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