From “Black Collectivities: A Conference,” held May 3–4, 2013, at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator. This article places the informal as a social ideal within a larger history of collectivism by distinguishing between two root forms, one derived from formal enfranchisement of political life and the state and the other from the laissez-faire informality of economic life and the market. While we are very aware of the social and political costs associated with collectivisms that derive their organizational principle from the state, on the whole we are much less attentive to the costs borne by collectivisms that derive their form from the market.

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