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This chapter situates the wake as the conceptual frame for living blackness in the diaspora in the still unfolding aftermaths of Atlantic chattel slavery. Sharpe begins with a series of deaths through which she theorizes and performs what she calls reading “in the wake” and “wake work.” “The Wake” illustrates the ways that individual (Black) lives are always swept up in the wake and produced and determined, though not absolutely, by the afterlives of slavery. The chapter reads past, present, personal, and historical archives as an orthography of the wake and a dysgraphia of disaster and refusals of them. This chapter begins to ask how Black people might live in relation to this requirement for Black death. And, finally, the chapter begins to articulate that Black people produce something into the wake that is in excess of this ever-present deathliness.

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