“‘When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead’: The Future of the Human in Suzan-Lori Parks’s The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World” puts thing theory in conversation with theorizations of temporality, claiming that things rupture the subject/object binary by dislocating subjects and objects in time. The essay shows how the things in Suzan-Lori Parks’s play The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World and Kara Walker’s cutout Middle Passages reorient subjects in time. Demonstrating a relationship between history, as a temporal category, and notions of the human that perpetuate the devaluing of blackness, this essay examines, through an analysis of Parks’s play and Walker’s cutout, what I call an aesthetic of “disalienation,” which loosens the hold of ever-present racial signifiers ready to reinscribe racist formulations of blackness. Through their acts of artistic innovation, Parks and Walker recalibrate time and permanently relegate the subject/object binary, and therefore black inhumanity, to a thing of the past.

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