A very nice post over at void and form. A selection:
Pardon my leap here, but this reminded me of an important question in Afro-pessimist scholarship regarding the character of anti-blackness, the structuring principle outlined by authors such as Frank Wilderson to explain the pervasive violence enacted against black people and other persons of color in the United States and across the globe. For Afro-pessimism, enlightenment humanism was constructed by way of the enslavement and transport of Africans in the Middle Passage, and while slavery is abolished on paper, its ‘afterlife’ lives on through an anti-black libidinal economy as enacted in institutions like the prison-industrial complex, US imperialism, and neoliberal capitalism. As outlined in texts such as Jared Sexton and Steve Martinot’s “The Avant-Garde of White Supremacy,” anti-black violence operates as a “paradigm,” which is to say that violence is not isolated to “spectacular” events such as a police shooting, but is “mundane,” ongoing, and everyday. In fact, to focus on these isolated events of blatant racial injustice is to miss the bigger picture, wherein race operates as a structuring principle inhering in the very fabric of our social world, influencing where people live, what they are able to do, and what they are free to think about (for a more focused analysis of one element of this equation, see Loïc Wacquant’s excellent work on ghettoization).
James beautifully continues:
Now, the predictable rejoinder would be that this is not a case of different worlds, but merely of structural differentiation (or perhaps even mere misfortune) within the same world. Why bring in the metaphysical notion of world to explain a social or political situation? The answer is that it’s a useful analytical tool to grasp the pervasive and overarching differences in experience between groups. It’s a difference of worlds because the worlds are experienced differently. It doesn’t have to be a theological matter of this world versus heaven or hell; if we know that anti-black violence is omnipresent and ongoing, and if that violence is so significant that it alters
I would only humbly add that I don’t believe that these worlds are only experienced differently– though that is entirely true and that a key issue is that of which is visible and invisible in each world and how to render the invisible visible in another world –but also that they are materially different. Power creates different geographies, different paths, along which people can move, reinforcing social differentiations, exclusions, segregations, and all the rest. There is an architecture of worlds that is not simply experienced, nor symbolically structured, but also structured in the real. There are many cities within each city and this is not only a matter of experiencing a city differently, nor discoursing and narrating the city differently, but is also a physical or material reality. Mieville only gets it half right. These geographies– which are simultaneously phenomenological, symbolic, and real or material –preside over categorizations, structure experience, and preside over paths along which people can move, availability of resources, relations to institutions, and many other things besides. As Butler has argued in her most recent work, symbolic distributions and sortings of bodies aren’t only a matter of the symbolic, but also involve a differential exposure to precarity or structure vulnerabilities and openness to harm. Drawing of the sorting between dark, dim, bright, satellites, and black hole objects I develop elsewhere, there is a core question of how this differential structuration and exposure which is dim or barely appearing between worlds can be rendered appearing so that something rogue (revolutionary) might appear reconfiguring the distribution of relations in a cartography.