African Studies

Mourning the Passing of Okwui Enwezor

The Nigerian Okwui Enwezor, the designated director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich. The picture shows him at his presentation, eight months before the start of service (01.10.2011).

Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of art critic and curator Okwui Enwezor, who co-edited our book Antinomies of Art and Culture and contributed to Other Cities, Other Worlds. He was also co-founder and co-editor of our journal Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.

The first African-born director of the Venice Bienniale art exhibition and the first non-European curator of the Documenta art exhibition, Enwezor promoted through his works a more globalized world of contemporary art and art history. His chapter in Other Cities, Other Worlds, “Mega-exhibitions: The Antinomies of a Transnational Global Form,” begins,

“In the last few years a new figure of discourse, one that seeks to analyze the impact of global capitalism and media technology on contemporary culture, has asserted that the conditions of globalization produce new maps, orientations, cultural economies, institutional networks, identities, and social formations, the scale of which not only delimits the distance between here and there, between West and non-West, but also, by the depth of its penetration, embodies a new vision of global totality and a concept of modernity that dissolves the old paradigms of the nation-state and the ideology of the ‘center,’ each giving way to a dispersed regime of rules based on networks, circuits, flows, interconnections.”

Antinomies_of_Art_and_Culture_coverIn Antinomies of Art and Culture, Enwezor’s chapter, “The Postcolonial Constellation: Contemporary Art in a State of Permanent Transition,” considers that modern art occupies an intersection between imperial and postcolonial discourses. “Any critical interest in the exhibition systems of Modern or contemporary art requires us to refer to the foundational base of modern art history,” he writes. “Its roots in imperial discourse, on the one hand, and, on the other, the pressures that postcolonial discourse exerts on its narratives today.”

In 1994, Enwezor co-founded Nka, leading the journal as co-editor and writing the introduction of the first issue, now freely available here for one year. Nka publishes critical work that examines contemporary African and African Diaspora art within the modernist and postmodernist experience. Since its inception, it has contributed significantly to the intellectual dialogue on world art and the discourse on internationalism and multiculturalism in the arts.

Looking back on Enwezor’s work, Duke University Press Editorial Director Ken Wissoker reflects that they “literally redefined the field.”

“The phrase “another world is possible,’ is used to keep people hopeful, imagining that things could be different,” Wissoker continues. “In his too short life, Okwui Enwezor actually made another world possible. In exhibition after exhibition and book after book, he showed us all a different and more global art history, art present, and art future.”

We send our sympathy to Enwezor’s family, friends, and colleagues. Joining them in remembering such a prominent and revolutionary figure in the art world, we echo Wissoker’s sentiments:

“We have lost him far too young at 55. He had so much more to teach and show us. Brilliant and kind, he leaves the rest of us a lot to do in his wake.”

Intersectional Before It Was Cool: A Guest Post by Kristen Ghodsee

Kristen Ghodsee 2017 BW (1)Today’s guest post is by Kristen Ghodsee, author, most recently, of Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women’s Activism and Global Solidarity during the Cold War, out this month.

Four years before Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw’s seminal 1989 paper, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” African women were fighting to have a discussion of apartheid included on the program of the United Nations Third World Conference on Women to be held in Nairobi in the summer of 1985. Ever since the First World Conference on Women held in Mexico City a decade earlier, liberal feminists from the United States had insisted that a women’s conference should only discuss the status of women. Other topics not relevant to the promotion of gender equality, they argued, should be discussed (by the men) in the General Assembly. In response, women from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, together with their allies from the state socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Cuba, protested that a women’s conference should allow women the chance to speak about all global concerns, regardless of whether they were specifically “women’s issues.”

For their part, the Americans in the official delegation considered the discussion of topics like apartheid or the need for a New International Economic Order (NIEO) an unnecessary “politicization” of the meetings. Directives from the Department of State and the U.S. House of Representatives admonished the official American delegates to the women’s conferences to narrowly focus on “women’s issues.” In response, the women of the Second and Third Worlds argued that you could not separate “women’s issues” from issues of racism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. What was the point, the African women asked, of discussing women’s rights in South Africa when the category of “woman” was so obviously divided by race? What was the point, the East European women queried, of discussing women’s rights in societies divided into classes of oppressors and oppressed?

978-1-4780-0181-2Although they did not have a name for their shared perspective, those women in the Global South and the state socialist East who believed that you could not discuss the issues of gender independently from issues of race and class were in fact promoting a kind of proto-intersectionality, one fiercely resisted by representatives from the First World countries. In Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women’s Activism and Global Solidarity During the Cold War, I trace the important alliances between socialist and socialist-leaning women in Bulgaria and Zambia and their impacts on the shape of the global women’s movement during the United Nations International Women’s Year (1975) and the subsequent United Nations Decade for Women (1976-1985). I argue that the story of the international coalition of women who advocated for stronger states and larger social safety nets (supported by the public ownership of industry) is one that has been erased by the Western feminist historiography of this era. This political solidarity of non-Western women provided an important challenge to liberal feminism on the world stage, and in many respects, the Cold War competition between the West and the East/South over which economic system could best promote women’s rights proved an important catalyst for rapid social progress.

In her intellectual history of women and the United Nations, the Indian economist Devaki Jain lamented the loss of the Cold War context because with its demise she believed that women of the Global South lost their ability to forge paths independent of Western economic and political hegemony: “The fading out of the Cold War . . . removed a vital political umbrella that had sheltered the women of the South, given them a legitimacy to stake a claim for justice as part of the movements to address domination” (Jain 84). Jain clearly acknowledged the important role of the solidarity between women the state socialist East and women from the Global South: “The Socialist bloc had supported approaches that required a strong state, a thrust toward public provision of basic services, and a more equitable global economic program such as the New International Economic Order. It was often an ally of the newly liberated states as they attempted to forge coalitions . . . to negotiate with their former colonial masters” (Jain 103). The liberal feminists in the United States and Western Europe had access to financial resources that far exceeded those of the women’s activists in the rest of the world, but I argue that the rest of the world’s women forged coalitions that gave them strength in numbers.

Although there is no doubt that larger geopolitical concerns informed these ongoing relationships (the Eastern Bloc countries were always trying to score moral points against the United States and its allies), I argue that the women affiliated with this global leftist women’s movement truly believed in the idea of proto-intersectionality and that issues of gender equality could not (and should not) ever be separated from the larger political contexts within which women lived. The records of the debates at the United Nations as well as countless international publications produced and circulated during the International Women’s Year and the International Women’s Decade clearly show us today that non-Western socialist women were intersectional ­­– before it was cool.

Kristen Ghodsee is Professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is the author of five books with Duke University Press. You can save 30% on her most recent title, Second World, Second Sex, on our website using coupon code E19SWSS.

Decline of the Republic

saq_118_1_coverThe most recent issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly, “Decline of the Republic: Vicissitudes of the Emerging Regime in Turkey,” edited by Ceren Özselçuk and Bülent Küçük, is available now.

“It is as if the rhythm of life in Turkey has sped up, like in time-lapse photography,” the editors write in their opening essay, made freely available. “The extraordinary series of events that have taken place within the last five years include bomb attacks, massacres, mass work accidents, wars and occupations, the Gezi Uprising and other large protests, corruption scandals, mass and targeted imprisonments, the coup attempt, purges, confiscation of institutional, corporate and individual properties, and finally the change from a parliamentary to a presidential regime.”

“What does the cumulative effect of these daily experiences of dislocation tell us about the nature of the social transformation that is taking place at the moment?” they write. “What the Turkish republic is ultimately grounded on is a persistent denial to encounter its constitutive ‘fault lines’ that shape its modern history.”

Contributors study the failed peace process between the Turkish State and the Kurdish movement, develop alternate frameworks for understanding Turkish authoritarianism, explore the restructuring of academia in Turkey and alternative spaces of education, and expose the limits of Erdoğan’s vision of “corporate sovereignty,” among other topics.

The issue also includes an “Against the Day” section entirely authored by students and academic staff involved in the #MustFall South African student movement calling for the decolonization of higher education. Contributors consider the matter of political time, from the use of the historically volatile term decolonization and the retrieval of political traditions from the 1960s to the stretching of time in occupations and campus shutdowns.

Browse the table of contents for “Decline of the Republic” and read the opening essay, freely available.

Global Black Consciousness

The most recent issue of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, “Global Black Consciousness,” edited by Margo Natalie Crawford and Salah M. Hassan, is now available.

nka_2018_42-43_coverThis special issue aims to open up and complicate the key paradigms that have shaped the vibrant work on theories and cultural productions of the African diaspora. Contributors offer a critical and nuanced analysis of global black consciousness as both a citing of diasporic flows and a grounded site of decolonizing movement. As a result, the issue pushes the abundant current scholarship on the African diaspora to another dimension—the edge where we think about both the problem and promise of mobilizing “blackness” as a unifying concept.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, made freely available.

African Feminisms

coverimageThe most recent special issue of Meridians, “African Feminisms: Cartographies for the Twenty-First Century,” edited by Alicia C. Decker and Gabeba Baderoon, is now available.

Read the full issue, freely available until March 5.

As the contributors to this issue show, African feminisms not only vary widely in form but also maintain vibrant and sometimes tense relations with one another around topics such as sexuality, national policies, and transnational solidarity. Such diversity and tensions, far from presenting a disadvantage, spur innovative and politically radical approaches in the field. The multiplicity of feminisms theorized in this issue help challenge patriarchal ideologies and structures both in Africa and beyond. “African Feminisms” includes poetry, memoir, interview, testimonio, and more, alongside essays on topics such as the framing of Nigerian girls as victims in need of saving, feminisms in African hip-hop, and sex worker advocacy groups in Africa.

Also check out these recent recent related titles:

An Intimate RebukeIn An Intimate Rebuke, an ethnography of female empowerment, Laura S. Grillo offers new perspectives on how elder West African women deploy an ancient ritual in which they dance naked and slap their genitals and bare breasts to protest abuses of state power, globalization, witchcraft, rape, and other social dangers.

In Rwandan Women Rising, Ambassador Swanee Hunt shares the stories of over ninety women, who in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, overcame unfathomable brutality, suffering, loss, and seemingly unending challenges to rebuild Rwandan society by addressing common problems ranging from health care, rape, and housing to poverty, education, and mental health.

Hershini Bhana Young engages with the archive of South African and black diasporic performance in Illegible Will to examine the absence of black women’s will from that archive, showing that alternative critical imaginings juxtaposed against traditional historical research can help to locate where agency and will may reside.

New Books in December

Check out our December new releases!

978-1-4780-0292-5.jpgColin Milburn’s Respawn examines the relationships between video games, hackers, and science fiction, showing how games provide models of social and political engagement, critique, and resistance while offering a vital space for players and hacktivists to challenge centralized power and experiment with alternative futures.

Jack Halberstam’s classic Female Masculinity has been called “a landmark study” (Feminist Theory) and a “pioneering document” (Gay and Lesbian Times) and has become one of our bestselling texts of all time. We are pleased to offer a new twentieth anniversary edition of the book, which features a new preface by the author.

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In Can Politics Be Thought?—published in French in 1985 and appearing here in English for the first time—Alain Badiou offers his most forceful and systematic analysis of the crisis of Marxism in which he argues for the continuation of Marxist politics.

Containing over one hundred selections—many of which appear in English for the first time—this extensively revised and expanded second edition of the bestselling The Brazil Reader, edited by James Green, Victoria Langland, and Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, presents the lived experience of Brazilians from all social and economic classes, racial backgrounds, genders, and political perspectives over the past half-millennia.

Jessica A. Krug’s Fugitive Modernities traces the history and meaning of Kisama—a seventeenth-century fugitive slave community located in present-day Angola—by showing how it operated as a inspirational global symbol of resistance for fugitives on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Megan H. Glick’s Infrahumanisms considers how twentieth-century conversations surrounding nonhuman life have impacted a broad range of attitudes toward forms of human difference such as race, sexuality, and health, showing how efforts to define a universal humanity create the means with which to reinforce various forms of social inequality.

Damon R. Young’s Making Sex Public tracks the emergence of new forms of sexuality in French and American cinema from the 1950s to the present, showing how cinema transformed narratives of sexuality and how women and queers were both agents and objects of that transformation.

Prompting a reevaluation of canonical understandings of twentieth century art history, Mapping Modernisms, edited by Elizabeth Harney and Ruth Phillips, provides an analysis of how indigenous artists and art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas became recognized as modern.

The contributors to Passages and Afterworlds, edited by Maarit Forde and Yanique Hume, explore death and mortuary rituals across the Caribbean, showing how racial, cultural and class differences have been deployed in ritual practice and how such rituals have been governed in the colonial and postcolonial Caribbean.

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The contributors to Sound Objects, an ambitious and wide-ranging collection edited by James Steintrager and Rey Chow, explore sound as an object, sound studies as a discipline, and the limits of sonic objectivity.

In Worldmaking, Dorinne Kondo draws on critical ethnographic work and over twenty years of experience as a dramaturge and playwright to theorize how racialized labor, aesthetics, affect, genre, and social inequity operate in contemporary theater.

In a bold challenge to conventional understandings of Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state. Dean Saranillio’s Unsustainable Empire tracks the disparate stories different groups tell about Hawaiian statehood by returning to historical flashpoints ranging from the turn of the century until shortly after 1959.

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Design Principles for Teaching History

Today we’re pleased to showcase the four books that currently comprise our Design Principles for Teaching History series, edited by Antoinette Burton. The most recent addition, A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History, is newly available this season.

Books in this series provide a guide for college and secondary school teachers who are teaching a particular field of history for the first time, for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their courses, for those who are training future teachers to prepare their own syllabi, and for teachers who want to incorporate specific topics into their history courses. These books are not intended to serve as a textbook nor advocate a particular school of thought. Rather, informed by the authors’ experiences in the classroom, they provide a guide to developing a syllabus around an integrated set of arguments and conceptual orientations. Ideal for teachers of all experience levels, the titles in this series help translate expert knowledge of a field into effective and thoughtful pedagogical strategies for a range of practitioners.

The series currently includes A Primer for Teaching World History, edited by Antoinette Burton; A Primer for Teaching African History, edited by Trevor Getz; A Primer for Teaching Environmental History, edited by Emily Wakild and Michelle K. Berry; and A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History, edited by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks and Urmi Engineer Willoughby.

ckn_24_3_coverAlso of interest is a newly published issue of Common Knowledge: the second part of a two-part symposium titled “In the Humanities Classroom.” The first set of case studies described particular pedagogical experiences rather than simply making general arguments about the value of the humanities. In its recently published second set of case studiesCommon Knowledge continues this approach of describing in detail the excitement and discovery that can occur in a particular humanities class but also expands upon the first to include the voices of graduate students and an undergraduate and to delineate the process by which one teacher put together an online course. This special section argues that descriptions of specific classroom experiences and of the careful planning and passionate commitment of teachers may help to cling to the moral values both professors and their students seem to need and want in troubled times. Article topics include “Teaching Western Civilization,” “Teaching an Online Course,” and “When History Meets Politics.”

New Books in October

It’s October and our fall publishing season is in full swing. Check out all the great books coming out this month.

The contributors to The Apartment Complex, edited by Pamela Robertson Wojcik, offer global perspectives on films from a diverse set of genres—from film noir and comedy to horror and musicals—that use apartment living to explore modern urbanism’s various forms and possibilities.

978-1-4780-0130-0In See It Feelingly Ralph James Savarese showcases the voices of autistic readers by sharing their unique insights into literature and their sensory experiences of the world, thereby challenging common claims that people with autism have a limited ability to understand language, to partake in imaginative play, and to generate the complex theory of mind necessary to appreciate literature.

In Channeling the State Naomi Schiller explores how community television in Venezuela created openings for the urban poor to embrace the state as a collective process with the potential for creating positive social change.

978-1-4780-0105-8.jpgJ. Lorand Matory’s The Fetish Revisited casts an Afro-Atlantic eye on European social theory to show how Marx’s and Freud’s conceptions of the fetish illuminate and misrepresent the nature of Africa’s gods while demonstrating that Afro-Atlantic gods have their own social logic that is no less rational than European social theories.

The contributors to the volume Digital Sound Studies, edited by Mary Caton Lingold, Darren Mueller, and Whitney Trettien, explore the transformative potential of digital sound studies to create rich, multisensory experiences within scholarship, building on the work of digital humanists to evaluate and historicize new technologies and forms of knowledge.

Domestication Gone Wild, a collection edited by Heather Anne Swanson, Marianne Elisabeth Lien, and Gro B. Ween, offers a revisionary exploration of domestication as a narrative, ideal, and practice that reveals how our relations with animals and plants are intertwined with the politics of human difference.

978-0-8223-7075-8.jpgIn Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty J. Kēhaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law, showing how Hawaiian elites’ approaches to reforming land, gender, and sexual regulation in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of indigenous Hawaiians.

James N. Green’s Exiles within Exiles is a biography of the Brazilian revolutionary and social activist Herbert Daniel, whose life and political commitment shaped contemporary debates about social justice, gay rights, and HIV/AIDS.

A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History, by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks and Urmi Engineer Willoughby, is a guide for college and high school teachers who are teaching women, gender, and sexuality history for the first time, for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their courses, for those who are training future teachers to prepare their own syllabi, and for teachers who want to incorporate the subject into their world history classes.

978-0-938989-42-4.jpgPop América, 1965-1975, edited by Esther Gabara, is a bilingual, fully illustrated catalogue that accompanies a traveling exhibition of the same name. Pop América, 1965-1975 presents a vision of Pop art across the Americas as a whole. The exhibition appears at the McNay Museum of Art in San Antonio from October 4, 2018 until January 13, 2019 and then moves to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from February 21 to July 21, 2019. It will finally be featured at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University from September 21 to December 8, 2019.

In the still-timely twentieth anniversary edition of Written in Stone—which includes a new preface and an extensive afterword—Sanford Levinson considers the debates and conflicts surrounding controversial monuments to public figures throughout the American South and the world.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for Subject Matters, our e-mail newsletter, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

New Books in September

Welcome to September! As the new academic year begins, we’ve got some great new books for you to dig into.

978-1-4780-0081-5Imani Perry’s Vexy Thing recenters patriarchy to contemporary discussions of feminism through a social and literary analysis of cultural artifacts—ranging from nineteenth-century slavery court cases and historical vignettes to literature and contemporary art—from the Enlightenment to the present.

Providing a history of experimental methods and frameworks in anthropology from the 1920s to the present, Michael M. J. Fischer’s Anthropology in the Meantime draws on his real world, multi-causal, multi-scale, and multi-locale research to rebuild theory for the twenty-first century.

In Jezebel Unhinged Tamura Lomax traces the historical and contemporary use of the jezebel trope in the black church and in black popular culture, showing how it disciplines black women and girls and preserves gender hierarchy, black patriarchy, and heteronormativity in black families, communities, cultures, and institutions.

978-1-4780-0021-1.jpgGathered from Rafael Campo’s over-twenty-year-career as a poet-physician, Comfort Measures Only includes eighty-eight poems—thirty of which have never been previously published in a collection—that pull back the curtain in the ER, laying bare our pain and joining us all in spellbinding moments of pathos.

In Garbage Citizenship Rosalind Fredericks traces the volatile trash politics in Dakar, Senegal, to examine urban citizenship in the context of urban austerity and democratic politics, showing how labor is a key component of infrastructural systems and how Dakar’s residents use infrastructures as a vital tool for forging collective identifies and mobilizing political action.

Gunslinger-50Edward Dorn’s Gunslinger is an anti-epic poem that follows a cast of colorful characters as they set out the American West in search of Howard Hughes. This expanded fiftieth anniversary edition of Dorn’s wild and comedic romp includes a new foreword by Marjorie Perloff, an essay by Michael Davidson, and Charles Olson’s “Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn”.

In Technicolored Black feminist critic Ann duCille combines cultural critique with personal reflections on growing up with TV as a child in the Boston suburbs to examine how televisual representations of African Americans—ranging from I Love Lucy to How to Get Away with Murder—have changed over the last sixty years.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for Subject Matters, our e-mail newsletter, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

 

 

 

Series Launch: On Decoloniality

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new book series, On Decoloniality, edited by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh. Two books are available now, and we look forward to watching the series grow.

On Decoloniality interconnects a diverse array of perspectives from the lived experiences of coloniality and decolonial thought/praxis in different local histories from across the globe. The series identifies and examines decolonial engagements in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Americas, South Asia, South Africa, and beyond from standpoints of feminisms, erotic sovereignty, Fanonian thought, post-Soviet analyses, global indigeneity, and ongoing efforts to delink, relink, and rebuild a radically distinct praxis of living. Aimed at a broad audience, from scholars, students, and artists to journalists, activists, and socially engaged intellectuals, On Decoloniality invites a wide range of participants to join one of the fastest growing debates in the humanities and social sciences that attends to the lived concerns of dignity, life, and the survival of the planet.

Cover of On Decoloniality by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. WalshOn Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis, authored by the series editors, is the first book in the series. Mignolo and Walsh explore the hidden forces of the colonial matrix of power, its origination, transformation, and current presence, while asking the crucial questions of decoloniality’s how, what, why, with whom, and what for.

The second book, What Does It Mean to Be Post-Soviet? by Madina Tlostanova, traces how contemporary post-Soviet art mediates this human condition. Observing how the concept of the happy future—which was at the core of the project of Soviet modernity—has lapsed from the post-Soviet imagination, Tlostanova shows how the possible way out of such a sense of futurelessness lies in the engagement with activist art.