This piece is a conversation that explores the space-time paradigm of capitalism as it manifests at the university and the alternative of “shutdown,” a strategy used by black students to interrupt the institution’s business as usual. On the barricades, behind the barricades, and beyond them, reflecting on experiences in the student movement, we consider the complex of militarized violence, on one hand, and, on the other, masculinist, physicalized resistance informed by particular readings, interpretations, and embodiments of Afropessimist positions on black people that seem to take as inevitable and necessary the hopelessness of the black condition. Here, shutdown can get stuck and locked into an antagonistic battle with the state and private security, having the effect of forcibly closing down the imaginative possibilities of what you do with space when you have space. This is perhaps mimicked, mirrored, or informed by Afropessimism, which seems to offer us very little in terms of imagination of ourselves and what we could be or do together. However, as an invented and occupied space while under siege, shutdown also holds the potential for the heralding of alternate timespace realities. These realities exist precariously and dangerously, but they are important because they offer black people new parameters for collective social relations that are temporarily isolated and distanced from the tyranny of colonial capitalism. We are interested in how the external life of a movement—how we confront or react to a hostile world—relates to its internal life, what we are able to create together.
Research Article|January 01 2019
gamEdze, gamedZe; Anxiety, Afropessimism, and the University Shutdown. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2019; 118 (1): 215–225. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-7281732
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