Prose Studies Special Issue: #BlackLivesMatter Pasts, Presents, and Futures
Special Issue of Prose Studies
Edited by Sherita V. Roundtree, Pritha Prasad, and Louis M. Maraj
Submission Deadline: June 1, 2018
#BlackLivesMatter Pasts, Presents, and Futures
Alicia Garza’s “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement” (2014) historicizes the origins and exigency of the movement as a counter to oppressive neoliberal logics. Garza situates BLM’s aims in relation to the Black power struggles of the 1970s. In calling for attention to be paid to identities sidelined in public discourses on Black freedom, Garza spotlights “the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum,” situating BLM within a continuing history of trans/national, coalitional women of color campaigns. The manifesto builds on women’s movements like the Combahee River Collective (1977), echoing their sentiment that “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” Both the Statement and the “Herstory” prioritize an intersectional approach to identity, history, and resistance.
Additionally, Garza addresses the institutionalization and co-optation of BLM, specifically resisting the resultant “#AllLivesMatter” and its dilution of race, gender, sexuality, citizenship and dis/ability. Only a few years after BLM first became a part of the inter/national conversation on race/racism, police brutality, and resistance, the movement has been commercialized (infamously, for example, through Pepsi’s recent Kendall Jenner ad), integrated into educational syllabi/symposia, and otherwise caught up in the mechanics of global capitalism. But it also persists within, against, and in relation to parallel protests against systemic oppression, such as the 2017 Women’s March, opposition to Trump’s immigration bans, and #NoDAPL.
In the wake of Trump’s election and consequent social upheaval, how might #BlackLivesMatter’s past, presents, and futures be located via analyses of non-fiction within/against histories of resistance? As Garza suggests, “herstory” cultivates a dialogue between “past” trans/national women of color and third world feminisms and their “present” iterations that seeks to resist state-sanctioned racial violence, postcoloniality, and settler colonialism. In this way, “herstory” complicates logics of past, present, and future that inhibit necessary understandings of racial violence as ever-present in our material lives, even while dominant histories articulated in truth-telling discourses suggest the “pastness” of racism and the compartmentalization of racial histories. How, for instance, might reading seminal anti-racist and queer texts such as the Combahee River Collective Statement and This Bridge Called My Back alongside Garza’s “Herstory” help critically break up distinctions between past, present, and future? How might such reading open new possibilities for coalition, solidarity, and relationality?
In this special issue of Prose Studies, then, we are interested in analyses of non-fiction texts and truth-telling discourses that attend to the particular ways in which BLM has been appropriated, institutionalized, or mobilized as a framework for radical, capitalist, juridical, and humanitarian ends. These texts and discourses include ethnography, medical and scientific reports, human rights reports, public policy, political, social and philosophical treatises, the forms that elicit demographic or other data, essays, diaries, letters, autobiography, biography, news and social media, musical performance (particularly rap and hip hop), pedagogical reflections, etc. We invite critical negotiations with social movements that analyze experiences of Black communities and communities of color, and how they address issues of appropriation, the rhetoric of (non)humanness, pedagogical practices, intersectionality, and erasure, in the pasts, presents, and futures of those movements. In the spirit of Garza’s “Herstory,” we are particularly interested in essays that consider these topics as they queer, bend, unravel, or work within and against logics of temporality and contemporaneity in anti-racist organizing, resistance, and theorizing.
TOPICS AND QUESTIONS
- How have rhetorics of #BlackLivesMatter (and related anti-racist movements) been institutionalized to serve neo/liberal, juridical, and/or political ends? How might
that institutionalization further demobilize such movements in U.S. and international contexts?
- How has #BlackLivesMatter contributed to past, present, and/or future understandings of the Black experience in America?
- What are “past” iterations of “herstorical” approaches to resistance that help inform or contextualize contemporary/present and future “herstorical” interventions?
- How has the language and/or principles of #BlackLivesMatter been adopted or repurposed?
- What are the affordances and constraints of deploying #BlackLivesMatter frameworks in critical pedagogies in contemporary US/international contexts?
- What role has technology and/or social media played in the visibility of #BlackLivesMatter?
- How might contemporary radical anti-racist movements revise frameworks of intersectionality in local, trans/national, and global contexts? How might their work help resist the institutionalization of intersectionality in socio-political discourses?
- What are the moments of dissonance surrounding #BlackLivesMatter?
- What kinds of opportunities for coalition emerge from understanding state-sanctioned racial violence across spatialities and temporalities?
- How does vulnerability affect Black potentialities and the sustainability of social movements that centralize racial injustice?
POSSIBLE BOOKS FOR BOOK REVIEWS
Dillon, Stephen. Fugitive Life: The Queer Politics of the Prison State. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2018. Print.
Mbembe, Achille. Critique of Black Reason. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2017. Print.
Graml, Gundolf, Violet Showers Johnson, and Patricia Williams Lessane. Deferred Dreams: Defiant
Struggles: Critical Perspectives on Blackness, Belonging and Civil Rights. Liverpool, UK:
Liverpool UP, 2017. Print.
Glaude, Eddie, Jr. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. New York: Broadway Books, 2017.
Lebron, Christopher J. The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2017. Print.
Submission Guidelines: Manuscripts should be no longer than 9000 words, including captions, footnotes, and references. Each submission should include a 150-word abstract, short bio, and 6 key words.
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